February 2, 2017
My Attraction to San Miguel
Things I really like about SMA are the sunny skies and intense sun. I also enjoy the colorful houses, one next to the other, covered with flowers. There are beautiful houses with vibrant colors and bougainvillea readily visible to anyone walking down the street. I appreciate that they are not hidden behind gated communities, but can be found everywhere.
Well-kept high-end houses are right next to empty or neglected houses. There are tons of artists here and plenty of stores if you’re in the market for art or just like to look.
I arrived the first week of January and it was winter here. Temperatures dropped down into the 30’s at night and rose up to 65 or 70 during the day. The only heater I have in my apartment is a small propane space heater. My hostess said she would show me how to start it, if I wanted. When I just arrived, I thought I could dress warm at night and early in the morning, and that would suffice.
Well, these masonry floors and walls do not hold any heat from the day, it seems. Talk about cold; during my first full day, I was sitting and working at my computer wearing yoga pants, a T-shirt, a sweatshirt, and a fleece vest. I also put a blanket over my lap and sat on my hands whenever I wasn’t typing. I was chilled to the bone until I finally went out into the sun around 4:00 that day.
After that, I started using the heater every morning and some nights, before going to bed. It was only cold like that for about 1 week. Now, it only gets down into the 40’s at night and that makes a huge difference.
I also try to go for a quick walk before noon to get my blood flowing and get warmed up. At my apartment, the sun shines in at the right angle around noon. Surprisingly, if I open my door and sit in the doorway, I can actually get too hot. The sun is very intense, but as soon as you get in the shadows, it can be very chilly.
Someone I met here described the climate like this: it’s like we get all four seasons each day. I think that is pretty accurate.
Getting around on foot
They have real cobblestone streets here. Most of the streets where I’ve been walking are made of rounded stones with concrete around them. They are VERY uneven and require your full concentration when walking to avoid twisting an ankle. Sometimes, the tires on cars actually make squeaking sounds when turning corners on the cobblestones and it’s not because they’re driving at a high speed.
The sidewalks are better (flatter and less treacherous), but there are often obstacles to walking on the sidewalk. Sometimes, they’re too narrow and sometimes there are trees occupying most of the width of the sidewalk. One also has to watch out for holes in sidewalks, drop-offs, steep stairs and driveway slopes.
One day my first week, I was walking down a sidewalk and there were some small piles of gravel on the sidewalk. I thought it was kind of strange and stepped between them. Then I realized why they were there. I was now standing on wet concrete! It wasn’t so wet that I sunk into it, but I hopped off to the side immediately. I have yet to go back and look to see if I left foot-prints in the new sidewalk.
I’ve written about the astounding number of women who wear very high heels in other Latin American countries such as Panama and Costa Rica. You don’t see it much here. I think the cobblestone streets discourage that. I did see a woman wearing spiked heels one day. I was walking behind her on the sideway, which was pretty flat. I kept watching her ankles wobble and hoped they would remain strong and healthy.
I can walk into the center of town, referred to as “El Jardin” in about 20 minutes. It’s mostly down-hill going into town and uphill coming back. Combine that with the fact that I’m at 6,000 feet and I figure I’m getting a pretty good workout. On top of that, I’ve been walking to get groceries quite frequently and carrying them back. One day, I had a particularly heavy load spread between two bags and the total weight was 17 pounds. It took me about 25 minutes to carry them home!.
There are ex-pats all over the place here. Whenever venture out, I pass some. Most of the wait staff in restaurants speak English. They cater to the expats here, for sure. Most of the restaurants have menus in English.
There are still more observations and stories that I’ll be sending out soon, so stay tuned.
I welcome your comments and questions in the comment section under each article.
Yours in prosperity,
Sophia Hilton (A Savvy Woman)