33. MEXICO – San Miguel de Allende (Part 1)

San Miguel de Allende. Could be a hit and miss place. Some come here for a holiday and never leave, some thinks the place is far too westernized and expensive. (I have to mention it here, John didn’t really wanted to come here. He knew it wouldn’t do it for him, and he’s not much of a “town person”) But one for sure, Allende is a very attractive town with well preserved cobblestone streets, beautiful colonial buildings, churches, gardens, super cute boutiques, cafes, posh restaurants and very friendly expats.

SM Allende July 2013

SM Allende
July 2013

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SM Allende
July 2013

SM Allende July 2013

SM Allende
July 2013

SM Allende July 2013

SM Allende
July 2013

SM Allende July 2013

SM Allende
July 2013

For us it was a “hit” as soon as we arrived but not in the good way. On our arrival we managed to knock a crack on a wall opposite the super tight entrance of the RV park we meant to stay in. In Allende the streets are narrow and can be steep too and this street, in particular, was one of them. Luckily the wall wasn’t a structure wall (so there was no house collapsing or anything but it was enough to make my heart stop for a minute) The wall was an old, already falling down, part-of-a-fence, single brick wall but still, we damaged it. Straight away, we managed to get hold of the young couple who owns the property but live elsewhere (currently this one is empty as it’s falling apart) After 5 hours negotiation with them, an “architect” and a policeman we settled at an amount that was closer to fair than the amount they wanted from us in the first place (which would have been enough to build a smaller house in Mexico!) It was well after 9 PM when we finally agreed and made the necessary admin. We went to bed without dinner, feeling tired and quite deflated.

In the RV park we met two delightful couples. Both camped up here in their overland rolling homes. One couple was from Germany and arrived in SM Allende 4 years ago!! They loved it so much, they never left to continue their travel further. Now, they have their life here with friends and all. And another fun couple from Switzerland, Franzeska and Felix, who are on the road for 4 years, travelling from Argentina and heading to Alaska, Canada or wherever the wind blows them. They have been staying here for quite a few weeks too. This town and its conveniently placed RV park seemed like a good base for longer rest for busy travelers.

SM Allende campsite July 2013

SM Allende campsite
July 2013

With our new neighbors’ help, John and especially I quickly found our way around town. Which was lovely. Soon I was there at the handy-crafty-arty-pretty organic market every Saturday, strolled to the more authentic fruit and veg market on Tuesdays, having frappuccino at Starbucks in the mornings, stuff myself with delicious sugary cakes and generally living in LA LA LAND.

Craft market SM Allende July 2013

Craft market
SM Allende
July 2013

Ice cream SM Allende July 2013

Ice cream
SM Allende
July 2013

More market SM Allende July 2013

More market
SM Allende
July 2013

SM Allende July 2013

SM Allende
July 2013

Enjoying the market SM Allende July 2013

Enjoying music at the Saturday market
SM Allende
July 2013

Meanwhile John…. well, we needed a job done on Burt (that bothered Johnny for quite some time) and Joachim – our German neighbor recommended a few places to check. One of these places was Hammarlund Racing. A Swedish owned company that builds vintage race cars for very wealthy people all around the world. We thought “hm, yes let’s just try the average, non-millionaire workshops first” Even if this Swedish guy would talk to us, he’d be way too busy for our job or we couldn’t afford it. So John started visited the local guys. Day after day it was becoming clearer and clearer that neither these workshops were interested, capable or quite frankly, reliable.

Days, then a week, then two weeks went by in wonderful Allende. During these couple of weeks we got ourselves into some very odd state. While still looking for the workshop for Burt (or waiting for some Mexican mechanics’ appointment over and over again who never shows up), somehow we managed to go out every night and drink ourselves to the ground. We didn’t know how it happened, EVERY single night but it just did. Obviously feeling awful the following day and not just physically, we were wasting our budget (Allende ain’t cheap) and not progressing with Burt so because we felt down again, we couldn’t wait till beer o’clock to get to Hank’s by happy hour.

SM Allende July 2013

SM Allende
July 2013

Although there was a jolly good side of being a couple of old lushes in Allende. Within just a couple of days (ahem, nights) we made tons of friends. Soon we were group emailing about the next do, rushing to meet friends for coffees, lunches or further drinks or dinners. We were invited to guitar evenings, private dinner parties or a family day-out to the pools, or some days Burt was heaving of people coming over for dinners, morning coffees or just to hang out for the day. It was utter mad fun with a touch of guilt.

SM Allende July 2013

SM Allende
July 2013

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SM Allende
July 2013

Sometime in these weeks, John finally decided to get in touch with the Hammarlund company. Turned out, they were more than happy to meet us with Burt and take a look at the problem in question. Seemed promising… One Friday we rolled up at the shop for the appointment where Mats -the owner of the business greeted us. Turned out, Mats and his wife, some time ago were world travelers so he understand where we were coming from -having a problem on the road and finding people to work on it etc, plus he seemed very impressed that John built our vehicle. After he showed us around in the tidiest and most organised shop we’ve ever seen with gorgeous vintage cars lining up neatly, Mats and John looked at and discussed the problem then we were booked in for the following Monday.

SM Allende July 2013

Hammarlund Racing
SM Allende
July 2013

Hummurland Racing SM Allende July 2013

Hammarlund Racing
SM Allende
July 2013

As we were driving away from Mats’ shop, John and I felt such a relief, we were really happy to found a so professionally run workshop with a great guy who’s happy to take us on. So happiness all around.

We got back to our RV park -no wall breaking this time. Yay! Though we managed to scrape some paint off on the right side. Damn! For our delight we found new neighbors in the campsite. A couple travelling for 4 years from Argentina throughout South and Central America. A delightful Swiss husband, Paul and his beautiful Inca wife, Ana from Argentina. They were a fascinating pair with amazing life stories that we could listen to for hours. They happened to mention that there will be a small, quite intimate Native Gathering in the next few days, up north, in Zacatecas…

After hours, maybe even a day of discussion we decided to go to the Gathering. Of course, there was our golden-found workshop with Mats where we now were booked in, plus this Gathering was 500 km back up north in Zacatecas, where we’ve already been. Still somehow I felt “we’ve got to go”. Monday morning we turned up at Mats’ workshop, to see if we can jiggle time and postpone the job. No problem. Great! Off we went…

Next, Zacatecas and the Gathering…

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