This article will be a more in-depth look at my life, my “senior living life”, in San Miguel de Allende. I hope you find this real-world information useful.
Today is my birthday and tonight I will be going to the local Gringo bar, Hanks. This pub/restaurant used to be called Harry’s up until 2012 and Bob, the owner has this New Orleans style establishment in about 4 different locations in the USA and 2 in Mexico. The food is moderately priced (for SMA) and the quality is excellent. Try the salmon BLT, wow! That sandwich with a ton of french fries is priced at 140 pesos, about 10 USD. I do not eat here a lot because frankly, $10 for me is too expensive for my tastes and totally not necessary, plus I would put on weight if I were here more than a few times a month. The music is also awesome at Hank’s playing mostly 70’s music along with all the standards. All in all a great place to hang out, good food, music, decor and vibe with both Mexicans (the wealthier ones) and gringos alike. The later, enjoying their gringo senior living life here in beautiful San Miguel de Allende.
At the other end of the dining-out scale is street food. Eating a taco from street vendors can be very hit and miss. However I, fortunately, do not have any first-hand information on the bad ones that may/will give you a stomach upset or worse. Word-of-mouth can be a killer for any place of business so how accurate these second-hand accounts are I am not really sure. I go to one street vendor in the evening, for beef tacos and they are just mouth-wateringly fantastic and cost 10 pesos each.
The nightlife for me may mean that I sit on a park bench in front of La Parroquia and watch the families, kids playing soccer, young teen lovers and often a town organized art performance. These performances include music for all tastes, folk dancing, choirs from local schools and more. The plaza is also a huge source of people watching for most people. The Teatro Angela Peralta, in the town centre, has events on a weekly basis and also offers a wide range or live performances and some movies. Speaking of movies, we have 2 movie theatres here in San Miguel de Allende. A short bus ride out of the old city centre takes you to a small shopping mall, which has a large multi-screen modern movie theatre. They offer movies in both Spanish and English dialogue, but some with only English subtitles.
In another article, I describe my USA plated van here as a “boat anchor” and so I got rid of it. Getting around San Miguel is often accomplished on foot now. I live at the extreme east end of the cento area and to walk across town to the west side is about 1.5 km and 20 minutes of walking. Mostly downhill and returning home a 30-minute walk, uphill. This town is not for everyone. The altitude here is about 2,000 meters, so less oxygen available for stuff like breathing. It is also a VERY hilly town and there are not too many occasions that will not take up a rather steep hill. The stroll across town can also be accomplished in a tax for 35 pesos and the 10-minute bus ride to the shopping mall is just 5 pesos.
Many people have accidents when walking in San Miguel de Allende. All the streets are some sort of cobblestone. Very smooth and slippery cobblestone. My feet are big, so my shoe spans at least one stone, those with smaller feet do not and sometimes twist an ankle or worse while navigating the beauty of the street! This town is like many others (all perhaps?) in Mexico; there are lots of obstacles on the sidewalk that, if you are not paying attention, will trip you up. Friends have had their foot/leg trapped and broken down deep holes, fallen through storm drains, and tripped over the myriad of smaller stuff that sticks out the sidewalks. Welcome to Mexico and Third World Country, culture?
Getting around Mexico from San Miguel de Allende is easy without a car. First class buses travel from SMA to all over Mexico and these buses are very comfortable indeed. These buses often having luxurious seating, WiFi and electrical adapter and even a cappuccino machine on the ETN bus line! The cost is around 100 pesos for each hour of the journey. Book online for discounts. If you are over 60 you can use your INAPAM card for a huge 50% discount on the bus fares. The cost of plane fares are on par with those in USA, so not cheap and trains only connect a few cities. Driving a car here is only cost effective when there are 3 or more in the car. The cost of petrol, maintenance, meals along the way and the road tolls add up to a 2 or 3 person break-even cost. Add to that the stress of driving and well, why bother with a car?
Lastly, there are the holidays and processions. Holidays in San Miguel de Allende are amazing festivities of light, colour, and sound. Most of the events are centred around Catholic holidays and tradition. Semana Santa, Easter was the end of March this year, is perhaps the biggest of these celebrations. People from all over Mexico come to this pueblito for the Semana Santa procession and cultural events. The next biggest holiday is the celebration, September 27, of Mexican Independence from the Spanish. The fireworks are not to be missed and this festival last about 5 days!
My life and your life, here in San Miguel de Allende can be as lively or as quiet as you want. A low budget can still be a lively time here because all the cultural events are for the public in the streets and plazas. Plan a visit soon, you will have no regrets.