Headed Home.

At least for a month.

Left San Miguel de Allende about 9 this morning and got to the Mexico City airport about 2. The ride wouldn’t have taken quite so long but we were the first folks (out of six) picked up and the last to be dropped off.

And oh yea, the runaway bull in the middle of the highway didn’t help. The driver had to slam on his brakes and apparently damaged them as a little while later there was an insistent beep from the van. After a quick roadside stop, the driver was on the phone to his office. Luckily we were on the outskirts of Queretaro (larger city 45 min from SMA and where the closer airport is) so within 15 min of the stop we were moved into a new van and on our way!

Our original plan had been to take this shuttle to the bus station in Queretaro and take one of the luxury busses to the airport. But yesterday when they called to confirm our pickup, they offered us a ride all the way to the airport for the same price as long as we were willing to leave at 9 rather than 10. I guess they already had this van going and it saved them a separate vehicle and driver for the 45 min that we had booked.

So being the bargain hunters we are, we said sure. Called and canceled the bus ride and hopefully will see a credit on our account tomorrow for that $44. So our trip to SMA in the private car cot $230 and the shuttle back which would have been $75 only ended up costing us $34!

We are now at the Hilton literally in the airport terminal with a view over the gates and of the runway. Hopefully the landings and takeoffs won’t disturb us too much…I’m enjoying plane watching!

We broke down at lunch and had a hamburger…the first in several months. We were gonna wait but when we saw the Chili’s sign beside the elevators up to the Hilton we were done for. The burger was tasty but not quite the same as in the USA but the refillable Coke Zero made up for it!

We leave tomorrow at noon and should be in Raleigh about midnight.

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Always too late.

It always seems we find our favorite restaurant just before we leave. Two months before we left Houston the place we had been searching for finally opened around the corner. And now today we had lunch at the same place we had breakfast earlier in the week.

El Rinconcito is on the street into town about a 10 minute walk from our rental condo. When we had breakfast there the Owner told us about their lunch and told us we had to come back. We are sure glad we did.

The ladies there prepare 10 or more traditional dishes and for 55 pesos you choose two of them for your plate that comes with beans and rice. Today the choices included mushrooms two ways, chicken mole, chorizo and potatoes, mixed vegetables, spaghetti, chile releno and a couple of others.

As you can see in the picture at the top I had mole (surprise surprise) and mushrooms in a creamy sauce with chili’s and corn. Mike chose meatballs and the chorizo. We added aqua Fresca (mine was lemon and Mike’s was Jamaica which is really hibiscus but tastes like cranberry – 20 pesos each). So everything you see cost a grand total of $9.15. Again not Cuenca prices but we had more food and it was more flavorful.

We may go back tomorrow for our last San Miguel meal! And if not, it will definitely be our first meal when we return.

San Miguel de Allende

We have had a relaxing and uneventful two weeks here in Mexico.  We have ventured out for meals and happy hour a couple of times but frankly really haven’t done much sightseeing.  The town is picturesque and the center is only about a mile stroll (mostly flat) along cobblestone streets and narrow sidewalks from our place but other than the churches and shopping there isn’t that much to see…its more about being here.  And we have enjoyed that!

The locals and the expat Gringos are all very friendly and helpful.  The weather has been incredible.  We have had a day or two of temperatures above 80 degrees but the humidity is so low that as long as you aren’t in the sun it is very comfortable.  In the evenings the temperatures fall to the lower 50s.  So while most of our friends and family have been suffering through a very hot summer, we have been most pleased that we elected to be here! And having the pool has been nice in the warmer days.

Our “Vacations Rental by Owner” (VRBO) condo is one of about 30 in a small complex with a pool.  While there is a huge rooftop terrace, it is accessed by a very tight spiral staircase from the kitchen balcony with the view of SMA you see at the top of the post, so we haven’t really used it.  But I have enjoyed coffee in the morning and wine in the evenings from the kitchen balcony.

Several have asked about any issues with visits from Mantazuma.  The condo has purified water in one of the kitchen faucets and by law all SMA restaurants have to use purified water for ice and since its such a tourist town, most of them use it for everything…so thankfully, we haven’t had any issues  It is strange to have to wash everything from the store that isn’t going to be cooked in anti bacteria solution.  But given the issues in the USA with romaine and such this summer, maybe we ought to all be doing that!

We visited the “Tuesday Market” this week.  AMAZING.  I couldn’t get over how big it was.  Imagine the largest flea market you have been to, combine it with a farmer’s market and an arts and craft show, add in some food trucks and then double or triple it and you might be close to this spectacle.  We had intended to eat lunch there and there were certainly lots and lots of tasty morsels we wanted to try but our lack of spanish combined with the crowds and not being sure how to order (do you order and then sit down, sit and order?) meant that we simply bought some veggies, fruits and aqua frescos (fruit waters) and then grabbed a cab back to the condo.  Then we walked towards town for lunch.

Never seen huge chicoronnes before:

And who knew you could buy peeled watermelons?

Speaking of food, below is the SMA food porn to date.  I am particularly enjoying the abundance of beans and mole’.  We have also made good use of the well equipped kitchen here to eat in.  There is a huge supermarket a short walk away (with $2 taxis waiting to bring us home) that has not only mexican foods but also american ones….peanut butter was a welcome sight after four months without any!

Chicken Mole and Chicken Enchiladas

There are a ton of places with Tacos El Pastor-stacked marinaded chicken cooked on a vertical spit and served with a slice of pineapple, onions, cilantro, lime and your choices of salsa. Yummy! Usually only 7 pesos each or about 35 cents!

Black bean soup, goat cheese stuffed chili’s in mole and “Mexican Vermicelli”

Mexican breakfasts-huevos with chorizo and chicquiles ( nacho chips with verde sauce) and eggs.

We are here until next Monday and then we head to Raleigh (via Mexico City, DFW and MIA) for two nights. From Raleigh we go to Seabrook Island for a few days to celebrate Claudia Freidank’s birthday (her 29th of course) before heading to Danville and Mike’s mom where we will generally be until we leave with her for Copenhagen and the Baltic Cruise.

While we have been here, we have also been working on our travels after Lois leaves us in Lisbon on 9/27. Jenny and Brian, a couple of Brits we met on the Viking Transatlantic foolishly invited us to come visit them in Scotland and to their surprise, we are taking them up on their offer.  Hopefully they won’t come to regret it!  We will leave Lisbon a few hours after Lois and spend four nights in London before flying to Aberdeen where if all goes as planned, Jenny will pick us up and take us to their place nearby.  After some time at their place visiting the sights near Aberdeen (we have been promised the best fish and chips in the world) all four of us are going to spend a night near Loch Ness and then two in Glasgow.  They will then head back to Aberdeen and we will jump a train to Edinburgh for two nights before we fly to Dublin for three.  From there we fly to Porto where we will have rented an Airbnb on the coast for two weeks.  Yost and Sam (our friends from DC who invited us to join them on our River Cruise a few years back) are coming to spend five nights with us there.  From Porto we will fly on the 29th of October to Milan to meet Peggy and Lowell on the 30th.  The four of us are going to take the next six days to drive to Rome (two nights outside Milan plus four more in Tuscany somewhere) to catch the transatlantic cruise home on November 5th.

We also have had several discussions here about our future plans.  We agree that we both miss having our own place so I don’t think we will be becoming full time nomads…but we also agree that we have enjoyed slow travel and being someplace longer than just a few days. So we are beginning to think about what 2019 holds for us.

The possibilities are broad – Tommy Barrett, Mike’s friend from college is working up a plan to go to Cambodia and we are considering that, we really enjoyed the transatlantic cruise so that would be fun to do again, and we are loving the cool summer here in San Miguel so that is also a possibility for next year. Lucky for us, we don’t have to make any decisions anytime soon!

San Miguel de Allende!

Arrived and now in our lovely casita. The view of old San Miguel de Allende from the huge rooftop deck is incredible.

We made one comfort and snack stop during the 4hour drive from Mexico City. Had delicious barbacoa tacos, tasty tasty lamb cooked between cactus leaves then chopped and served on handmade tortillas.

Off to forage for food and then back to finally get some shuteye.