Thursday, June 25, 2009

Corners and Taxis

The historical district of El Centro encompasses 69 blocks. There are no stop signs, no yield signs, no crosswalks painted on the cobble stones. People walk everywhere; if they are not walking they are in a taxi or on the bus. (Oh, and for the tourists there is a street car that makes an hourly tour circuit around town). The main streets are VERY busy.

So, how does the traffic flow with no stop signs? And how do pedestrians get across the street?
First in line for polite are the taxis drivers, they will always yield to people on the street. Next are the bus drivers. The buses are BIG, they take up the WHOLE street, but will always yield to pedestrians. And often, people are not crossing at a corner! Add a couple kids, a baby, and an abuela and the whole scene comes to stand still while the family crosses the street!

A picture from a roof top would be perfect to catch the traffic during the busy times. These were NOT at busy times, but do show typical intersections. See street name and direction arrow on side of buildings.

Adding some people to the mix.

This taxi is turning onto a two way street. Some 'T' intersections have traffic cops.

By the way, taxis are everywhere. It costs 20 pecos to ride anywhere in the city, no meters, no tips, just 20 pecos.

This is a busy two way street with a plaza on one side. No worries for the taxi who is passing between the walkers and the autobus. That's the *best* ice cream stand under the tree, there's often a long line of people on the side walk and cars stop at the curb to order a cone *to go*.

The taxi drivers and the bus drivers are the most polite. Not only do they stop for people, they make eye contact and a hand gesture to indicate it's ok to cross.

At first I didn't get this system and was kinda scared to step out into the street, but it throws everything off if someone hesitates, better just to go with the flow and it all works out.

Added to the mix are many scooters and quads. Whole families ride on the quads, maybe dressed for church! Vegetables and flowers are delivered. Next to a 1960 VW bug, a quad maybe the perfect form of transportation for San Miguel.

Except for walking....walking is the very best!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Week-end Walks - Sun

My post on May 30 has some shots of the front of this little church on El Chorro. From the courtyard I didn't realize this arch lead to one of my favorite things in San Miguel...a stair street!

Looking back down toward the courtyard. These are really steep!

The trees in front of the church were full of cranes. It was neat because when I was heading back across town on one of the top streets I used the cranes as a way to orient myself to my starting point.

These bells are on the top of the Casa de Cluture. I got to hear them ringing!

This was a good place to rest.

Before continuing up, up, up......

After reaching the top of the stair street I took the next uphill street. The flags are almost as bright as the buildings!

Another abuela out for a morning walk.

Mary in a window of a private house near the top.

And finally, the Cruz de la Puebla. Much of the town can be seen from up here, and it's above the big buildings and traffic so it's possible to hear music from all over town. There were at least three different bands I could hear this Sunday morning.

Week-end Walks - Sat

Early in the morning on week-ends I go for a long loop walk....across town, up one of the hill streets, back across town on the top, and then drop back down into El Centro.

All the flat roofs have drains out over the street, some onto the sidewalk, many are fish and animals.

Every Saturday morning there is an aerobic dance work-out called Zumba at Parque Juarez. People of every size, shape and age show up to dance to energizing music.

The leader....

This is a beautiful rockwall.

This one shows how pebbles are often used to decorate the mortar.

Another unbelievable power pole. I have to send this to an old friend at work!

Archway over a garden gate.

Red house with cross.

Yellow house on the way back down.

This is the "blue door" bakery. It's traditional with all baked goods open to the shoppers who pick up a tray and a pair of tongs to gather baked goods.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Squash Blossoms

My new favorite food is squash blossoms! Maricruz has been cooking them for us a couple times a week. They are available fresh every day at El Mercardo and often vendors have them along the street.

So, first snap off the stems and rinse.

Roast a pepper over an open flame.

Chop the vegetables.

Then saute.

Serve with fresh tortillas (also from El Mercardo) and black beans.

Bellas Artes

The street side wall of Bellas Artes is a continuation of the yellow wall of the La Concepcion and was originally a convent for the church. Now it is an art school. If I had to pick two favorite places in San Miguel, the "stair" streets would be one and Bellas Artes would be another. It is the classic colonial design with a courtyard in the center.

The arched walkways surround the courtyard on all four sides with a second story.

The doorways are all of this unassuming design.

Two stairways lead to the upper level.

A wooden craving of Christ on the Cross hangs in one stairwell.

The upper level has a new exhibit since I took these pictures, maybe I will get a chance to see it tomorrow before we leave.

The dome of neighboring La Concepcion and the courtyard of Bellas Artes.

A double set of stairs leading down with mural of spinners.

There is also a bookstore and a cafe in the Bellas Artes. It's favorite stop for pizza!

Instituto Allende

A ten minute walk west of El Centro is the Instituto Allende. It's an art and language school in a large, very beautiful colonial building that was originally owned by the de la Canal family whose main residence was a block square compound on one side of El Jardin. The view of La Parroquia from the back patio is amazing.

The archway through the main entry....

The fountain in the central courtyard has a huge bouquet of flowers in the center.

A mural on an exterior wall is a recent addition.

There aren't any photographs of Allende, but many paintings and sculptures show him on his white horse.

Just a small side entry.....

Arches along the interior walkways.

This spectacular mural is on the ceiling of the entrance to new offices.

Biblioteca Publica

The Biblioteca Publica is one of the largest bilingual libraries in Mexico. It has over 60,000 books. English on one side and Spanish on the other. The Biblioteca has been in it's present location since 1958. There is a large central courtyard with a fountain. A gift shop, a daily walking tour, and a sunday home tour all contribute to support the library. This is a second more interior courtyard that houses a cafe and is currently Bernie's home office away from home office.

Just an aside, the many fountains in San Miguel are all incredibly clean. Today a city inspector came by to check out the two fountains in our guest house. Evidently even private fountains are regulated by the city.

A gorgeous rock stairway leads up to a balcony area with super views of the city. Also to several offices and a children's area for daily art and science and music classes.

Wall flowers.

The side support arches of the church next door.

And a chair against the sunset wall color.