A New Day Dawning

25 Apr

In contrast to Panama when the night sky would recede by 5:30 in the morning and the sunrise seemed to come at warp speed, morning arrives slowly in San Miguel — almost reluctantly.  It is still dark at 6:30 in the morning and there’s a leisure about the way the morning comes on.   This aura of placidity translates to the sense of things here, to the ease with which people move about; one senses a lightheartedness, a kind of joie de vivre.

We have been easing into our new life slowly, having contracted some sort of virus on our third day here, the remains of which continue to linger.  Our one-month rental obtained over the internet, sight unseen, has turned out to be perfect.  It is located in the central district (“colonia centro”) just off of a pedestrian walkway a block from a major (albeit narrow) cobblestoned street.  Steps from our door is the Cafe Monet, a charming restaurant owned and operated by our landlord which serves excellent food at reasonable prices (a delicious omelette is 35 pesos or about $2.60 USD, eggs benedict 65 pesos or about $5.00) and excellent coffee “Americano.”

Inspired by Oliver’s eagerness to explore, on our first morning out he led us to Juarez Park just a few blocks from here down a lovely tree-lined street.  Parque Benito Juárez is a large and beautiful park designed in the French style with fountains, wrought iron benches, old bridges and footpaths.  Established at the beginning of the 20th century on the banks of a river, there is a children’s playground along with a couple of basketball courts.  It is here on these basketball courts that I have encountered a large aerobics class on both Saturday and Sunday mornings, with at least 100 people participating, both Mexican and gringo, mostly women but about 10 percent male.  The garden area is filled with lovely lush plants and trees of the region including large pepper trees and jacarandas, now in full bloom.  Fountains and ponds abound and I’m told to be on the lookout for the numerous white egrets that reside here.  There’s a charming gazebo, the site of impromptu concerts by local musicians late in the evenings.  In the morning hours the park is filled with a combination of dogs on leash, joggers, tai chi practitioners, coffee drinkers, and almost always a pick-up basketball game; it is a delight.  And speaking of Oliver, although I may be imagining it, he seems happier with a new spring in his step and a renewed eagerness for adventure.  Fully recovered from the trauma of his journey, he has responded to the cooler temperatures and lack of humidity that, in retrospect, weighed us all down in Panama.  As evidence of his improved temperament, he has resumed playing a hide-and-seek game with me that he hasn’t played since we left California and many people we pass on the street have commented, “What a happy dog!”

Indeed we are all thriving from the weather which has been nearly perfect.  Cool nights, cool mornings (I usually have to wear a sweatshirt for our morning walk), with warm afternoons (mid to high 80s).  There’s almost always a breeze with extremely low humidity; with the altitude the air is reminiscent of a summer afternoon at Lake Tahoe.  It turns out that April and May are the warmest months of the year with temperatures during the summer cooling into the 70s.  And it is the summer months that bring the rains, generally about 5 inches a month for a total average annual rainfall of around 20 inches

We spend our days looking for a home to rent and have found it to be an excellent process by which to learn about the city.  It is indeed a beautiful city with a well-preserved historic center populated with 17th and 18th century Baroque colonial architecture.  I will take pictures to post here but for the moment I can’t find the cord that connects my camera to my computer; I apologize.  It is easy to see why in 2008 UNESCO designated San Miguel as a World Heritage site; it is reported that the city looks much the way it did 250 years ago with the charm and feel of old Europe.  The cobblestone lanes rise and fall over hilly terrain, not unlike the streets of San Francisco.  There appear to be no zoning regulations and residential and commercial establishments sit side by side.  It is said that there are some 2,000 doors in San Miguel, behind which are 2,000 courtyards.  Unlike the United States where we tend to show off our homes to passersby, i.e., curb appeal, here everything is hidden behind doors of many colors.  We have gone to see a house which appeared unimpressive from the street only to walk into a courtyard which took our breath away.  We’re hoping to make a housing decision by week’s end.

So far we’ve met several interesting people including Barry, a retired ad executive from New York; Beverly, a widow from Newport Beach; Joseph from Raleigh, North Carolina; Peggy from Austin, Texas; and “Hutch” and Mary from San Francisco.  We’ve already been invited to a dinner party and met up with some other folks this afternoon for cocktails (and ginger ale) at Harry’s Bar, a fabulous place complete with Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole for musical accompaniment. To quote a line from the Disiderata, “no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”

2 Responses to “A New Day Dawning”

  1. Ernie April 29, 2012 at 12:21 pm #

    Well done and written. Can see competition for Rick Steve’s travels features in future.

  2. Jeannette Bowes November 24, 2012 at 6:51 am #

    Hey! Suzanne just passed along your blog to me, so here I am at the beginning, so a lot of catching up to do! Sounds absolutely FABULOUS!!!!!! You may want to submit your writing to travel magazines, you write, and I feel like I am there!!!!!! love to you both!!!
    Jeannette and Brian

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