“Huevos con calaca; desayuno en San Miguel de Allende 1-26-2017”
Hidalgo 50 was our favorite breakfast spot in San Miguel. Fried eggs over easy is hard to order in Mexico; it seems that individual restaurants call it different things. The proper name is huevos estrellado, but that confused many of our waiters. Hidalgo 50 made our eggs perfectly! Most likely because San Miguel is a cosmopolitan city with many travelers and residents from around the world. While waiting for breakfast, I made this sketch.
Día Del Muertos, observed throughout Mexico, has become a 3-day celebration, Oct 31-Nov 2. The Mexican government made it a holiday in the 1960s, as a unifying national tradition based on indigenous tradition. It seemed to me that the Day of the Dead is one of the most beloved Mexican celebrations because one sees calacas, (skeletons) throughout the year.
My drawing was inspired by the skeletal Catrina figures. In 1910, the Mexican lithographer, José Guadalupe Posada created a famous zinc etching of a figure he called, “La Calavera Catrina,” also known as “Dapper Skeleton” or “Elegant Skull.” Catrina is Posada’s parody of a Mexican upper-class female wearing a hat befitting the upper class European of her time. Through this satirical portrait, Posado pokes fun at Mexican natives who aspired to European aristocratic traditions, abandoning their pre-revolutionary indigenous culture. Today, Catrina figures are a prominent part of modern Día de Muertos observances, used in Mexican decor throughout the seasons, and commonly offered in craft and souvenir shops.
Mexican art, design, and crafts are charming and whimsical. I was delighted to encounter the following examples.
Many days we spent wandering the city, exploring neighborhoods, taking photos, sampling food, and of course drawing. The Plaza Civica has two churches that bookend the square. Kurt and I took opposite ends of the plaza, each portraying a different church. I chose the Templo de Nuestra Señora. My sketch captures the vibrant street life found throughout Mexico.
Here are a few more examples of the charm portrayed across Mexico, particularly in Mexican colonial cities.
San Miguel became an important military and commercial site by the mid 16th century when silver was discovered in Zacatecas. The town was a melting pot, first for Spanish and indigenous peoples, and later for other European settlers too. Major roads connected San Miguel with the mining communities, Mexico City, and the rest of the state of Guanajuato, serving travelers’ needs and providing supplies. In particular, the textile industry flourished. Locals claim San Miguel is the birthplace of the serape.
Wealth from San Miguel’s crossroads status brought a rise in Baroque and Neoclassical architecture, including many mansions, government buildings, churches, and cathedrals. The beauty and charm of the city still bring San Miguel many visitors.
From Guanajuato, we traveled east by first class bus to San Miguel de Allende, another Baroque-Neoclassical colonial city. San Miguel de Allende, birthplace of the revolutionary leader Ignacio Allende was the first city to declare its independence from Spain. Though historically significant, it was its beautiful architecture and charming culture that saved the city from almost becoming a sleepy near-ghost-town when post-WWII artists rediscovered it, founding fine art and cultural institutes.
The legend of the Barrio del Chorros tells of the founding of the city of San Miguel, (dedicated to the Archangel, Saint Michael.) In 1555, Friar Juan de San Miguel discovered his missing dogs drinking from the two springs. The village of San Miguel was moved to this valley below the springs. In 1802 pipes were installed to bring water to the city’s homes at a cost of $18,000.
Washerwomen Square, San Miguel de Allende is located just below the springs. we did not see anyone doing laundry on the day we visited; the site is still used by some locals for washing clothes.
More charming signs from San Miguel De Allende; (my daughter’s first pony was named Capriceaux, (the French spelling.)