About four hours northwest of Mexico City, a mile above sea level, is a quaint collection of 64 city blocks surrounded by a typical Mexican town: roosters, noisy trucks, music and church bells peeling throughout the day. The air is dry, the temperature hits 70 degrees F every day (it might start near freezing, but it warms up in the winter; in July you’ll always have a cool breeze in the evening) and 16,000 gringos from north of the border make up 16 percent of the town. Named for a patriot who helped in the fight for liberation in 1810, the town is protected from development by strict rules that keep the exteriors of the homes looking the way it did a hundred years ago.
Have you heard enough to want to know how to spend a vacation here?
The FOUR DAY Schedule (make one of these days on TUESDAY for the market)
Day 1 — arrive, get picked up byMario, who talks for an hour about the culture. Walk into town and get a copy of ATENCION. Find an activity (such as talking with locals on Tues. and Thurs 5-6:30 pm)
Dinner: San Francisco Cafe, Jardin
Day 2 — MARKET DAY Tuesday
Look for “Mesa de Plata” (the silver table) and look for the silver haired guy. LUNCH: El Buen Cafe
Afternoon: real estate tour with Gaby Cabello Rivas or one of Gaby’s colleagues. Email her at email@example.com
Day 3 — Tour of the City with Mario.
He will show you the parts that a local knows, such as a metalworking shop in a residential area — noisy at 10 am, quiet by 5 pm, providing employment for neighbors. Clever!
Afternoon: walk to Instituto Allende, meet Keith Keller at the Escuela of painting and drawing — if you sign up for a class, you can drop in during daylight hours to practice.
Dinner: Cha Cha Cha for Mexican delights, or try 10-10-Pie (stay on your feet wiht this food) — delicious fruit salad and “batidas” (smoothies)
Some people recommend Mama Mia (music)
Day 4 — ADVENTURE $160US per person, early morning hot-air balloon ride, meet outside Recreo 68 at 6:30 a.m.
After breakfast: Walk through the Artisans Market.
Lunch at Bugambila ($28, pricey but romantic).
Tour at 3 pm with Jilda on the 2-hour tour bus (9 to 9, every two hours from Juarez Street). You can write to her and practice Spanish (she wants to practice English) at firstname.lastname@example.org
JIlda ZAvala Tour guide
Snack: San Agustin, Mesones, owned by Margarita, a TV and ilm star who lives in Mexico City.
Dinner: 10-10-Pie, El Buen Cafe or Pegaso
Day 5 — Time to leave. Call Mario. Keep lots of video tape or digital space available to record Mario’s every sentence!
Many call this the “heart of Mexico” — with good reason. The conspirators who plotted to overthrow the rulers of the country did their planning in this area.
Retirees from other countries (mostly the USA) make up one-sixth of the central city’s population (around 80,000). The total metropolitan area is around 115,000. You can live close to the suburban lifestyle in the USA (drive to a mall and place groceries in a car, drive home into a garage and walk 50 feet to a refrigerator). You can also live like people do in Venice, without a car and shopping at a local market.
Restaurants: lunch for two under $10
Dinner for two under $28 at Pegaso in Centro (near the Jardin).
What to do
You can take art courses at the Instituto Allende or look at real estate for sale in the “Golden corridor” north of the city. You could take a tour on the trolley bus or take a cooking class and learn some local recipes. You could even give free English lessons at the local school – get to meet some of the locals while you are there. It’s better than hanging out at an Internet Cafe. Get to know the locals at the Public Library (biblioteca publica).
You can fly into Mexico City and then to a nearby city (Queretaro QTO or Leon BJX).
Or you can fly to Houston and then south to BJX or QTO. Before you fly, reserve a driver to pick you up — Call Angelica tours at 52 415 152 6305 and ask for Mario.
Where to Stay
We tried Hacienda de las Flores. Delightful location, sweet dog (the gordita Coquette) and friendly staff. Ask for the TV room and you’ll be able to catch the morning shows on satellite: NBC, ABC and CBS, plus CNN. Rooms have basic cable. Delicious eggs for breakfast.
AngelicaTours.com, ask for MarioTransportation from the airport
Francisco Marquez #33
Office: (415) 1526305
Toll free number: 1.877.446.0721
Get a good map.
Take the tour of the city with Mario (AngelicaTours.com, but the web link is not reliable)