Friday, February 27, 2015

Impossible but true: a city without traffic lights

By Brent Harold at CapeCodonline, writes, "One of the most striking things about this small city of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, is that there are no traffic lights or stop signs in the whole city. How can that be?

"By what we know and how we live traffic-wise in el norte, such a thing is impossible. Traffic lights and signs are a fact of life, a fundamental element of civilization. We need traffic lights to protect ourselves from ourselves. At a crossroads, how would you know who goes first? What would keep us from crashing into each other? How else to give pedestrians a break?

"We accept as perfectly natural that without such amenities of civilized life as traffic aids we would naturally, people being what we are, be running each other over at a fearful rate.

"Imagine Boston or even Hyannis without the guidance and structure of traffic lights. Recipe for disaster, right?

"There is plenty of traffic here, a busy city of people trying to get where they need to get. Hundreds of little green taxis plying their trade. But there seems no competition to be the first into the intersection. The unspoken rule seems to be for automobiles, especially taxis, to defer to pedestrians, going so far as to wave us through, Pase le.

"So what’s going on in San Miguel? what’s different? Only, it seems, people acting differently, putting into play different human qualities, different values, different assumptions. Tolerance. Patience. Deference. Respect for other people. Live and let live. Golden rule. And if the more stressed, entitled m.o. of the north make traffic aids seem natural, these more laid-back values and attitudes seem natural enough here. And seem to get the job done.

"The irony of the old cautionary tale of the man who ”died maintaining his right of way” seems not to apply here."

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Flights Cancelled After Mexican Volcano Spews Ash

For the second time in 10 days, writes the AP, the Popocatepetl volcano east of Mexico City spewed ash into the sky, forcing cancellation of flights at the nearby Puebla International Airport.

A statement from the government's airport oversight agency Wednesday said operations in Puebla were suspended at 6:30 a.m. (7:30 a.m. EST) to allow airport personnel to clean runways and other areas covered in ash. Officials expected the airport to resume normal operations soon. The suspension affected three flights Wednesday to Houston, Monterrey and Guadalajara.

On February 15, a similar eruption caused the cancellation of three flights at the airport.

According to Mexico's National Center for Disaster Prevention, a series of explosions at the volcano overnight tossed hot rocks 760 yards (700 meters) down the volcano's cone and sent a column of ash nearly 2 ½ miles (4 kilometers) into the sky.

The national civil protection agency said Wednesday the volcano is experiencing a period of frequent low-intensity explosions following a series of tremors on Sunday. Similar episodes were observed in May and July 2013, and likely have to do with the growth of a new dome.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Brooke Binkowski: Chinese influence growing in Mexico

BROOKE BINKOWSKI at the Dallas Morning News reports that "Chinese immigration to Mexico is rising rapidly. The 4,743 Chinese who arrived in 2013 made up the second-largest group of immigrants after the 12,000-odd Americans who were granted permanent residency.

Mexico is also seen as a prime destination for Chinese foreign investment, thanks to its abundance of natural resources and proximity to the U.S.

Chinese trade with Mexico has also increased in recent years: According to the Mexican government, imports and exports between the two countries grew from about $15 million in 2004 to $65 million in 2014.

Mexico City’s 5 Most Beautiful Churches

Local expert Cristina Alonso reveals in TRAVEL+LEISURE:

"During Mexico’s 300 years as a Spanish colony, we were heavily influenced by many of their customs and traditions—most relevantly, we acquired their language and religion. During those years and from then on, Catholic churches became ubiquitous all over the country, often located in every city and town’s main square and functioning as a place of social importance as well as religious. And of course, Mexico City is no exception. There are dozens of churches of all sizes and styles all over town, but the ones chosen for this list have the biggest visual impact and historic importance (and they’re also located in bustling areas you’ll probably visit at some point)."

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Protection From The Sun

Mexico retold: On a casual trip into a natural health shop in Puerto Escondido in search of natural suncream, I didn't find protection from the sun, but protection from everything else possible. There were potions, lotions, amulets and idols as well as lots of healing herbs...

Monday, February 16, 2015

Antigua Trattoria Romana

Now that was a great meal. You can smell the corner restaurant a block away; garlic and hot bread and marinara sauce. Antigua Trattoria Romana sits on  a triangle formed by two streets, Zacateros and Cody,  since 1989 has been serving great Italian food to the residents and visitors in San Miguel.

Each couple split the POMODORI CIPOLLA ROSSA  Slices tomatoes, red onions, blue cheese, lettuce walnuts, raisins and olives for 82 pesos.  The olive oil and vinegar dressing weren't overwhelming for the lettuce, tomatoes, and onions. Then three of us ordered SPAGHETTI POMODORO E BASILICO  for 125.00  pesos. Spaghetti in a fresh tomato sauce and basil. The spaghetti was al dente and hot and the sauce stuck to the pasta perfectly.

The inside looks Italian and the serving staff, including Gustav were very attentive and joked with us.

Casa Sundance Umaran #66

We did it. We signed a year lease on a rental in the heart of San Miguel, We move in on April 1st just before what will be a memorable Easter. It is a 2 1/2 bedroom, 2 bath home, furnished with lots of original art on the walls. It has two or three terraces to sit in the sun and entertain. We think it will be perfect for the two of us and any guests who venture south of the border. We thought we had a place before, but it turned out to be just a little small.

Here's a link to pictures of our new home for the next year:

Don Taco Tequila

We finally hit a bummer of a dining experience. It was Sunday night and many restaurants were closed. We thought tacos sounded good, so we sat down in Don Taco Tequila's restaurant near the Jardin. We ordered something to drink and some chips. Another couple was seated near us and after us, They were served first. Our wait person finally brought us some chips and various condiments. The chips had no flavor and neither did the condiments. One small dish was supposed to be Guacamole, but it didn't have any zing. We chose to their specialty, the Don Taco with ribeye steak. It looked pretty when it was served, and filled a small salad plate, but the meat was inedible. It was gristly. We were still hungry. We could have said Un mas, one more, but that would have been adding insult to our taste buds. Would we try it again? Only if Taco Don Felix closes down.

Hernández Macías 83 Zona Centro, San Miguel de Allende, GTO, Mexico
01 415 154 9608

Sunday, February 8, 2015

We Dined at Tacos Don Felix

Tonight we had the pleasure of dining with Valerie Tapscott and writer and journalist Monty Dennison at Tacos Don Felix in San Miguel de Allende. People come from afar to dine in the house of Don Felix.

The restaurant that seats 60 is open only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The wait until the weekend is worth it. I had the enchiladas Gloria, named after Don Felix's wife Gloria of over 29 years. The hot plate of four enchiladas was delivered by Lolo sporting a shirt with the name of Karen. All the waiters are related to Don Felix and speak English. The four enchiladas, two of pork and two of chicken, were muy caliente, but the best enchiladas I have ever tasted. Topped with cheese and served with refried beans, pretty tough to beat. I can understand why the restaurant was hopping.

For a real nice story about Don Felix and how he built this successful restaurant turn to "Atencion San Miguel" and the article Monty Dennison wrote about Mr. Taco. Monty was impressed by the values of Don Felix: work hard, learn English, get an education, and serve great food.

The restaurant has grown with Don Felix and climbs up from the street adorned with boveda (ceilings), brick, tile, and parrots. Yes, parrots! Take a moment to watch the babies held in mother's arms experience the joy of the birds that call to the patrons coming up the stairs.

Don Felix estimates he has served over 300,000 tacos since he opened over nine years ago. One visit and you'll see why.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Denver's Olivo Verde!

It is fun to discover a new restaurant and that's what we did tonight. Denver's Olivo Verde! The concept is unique. You are given two slips of paper and a picture book. The first is a Customize Salad menu. The second is Customize Pasta menu. I ordered a small salad and I chose to add croutons, tomato, red onions and parmesan. You can also add eggplant, chicken, fish and mushrooms. The salad came with a dressing of oil and vinegar.

The second menu is a choice of pasta: spaghetti, fettuccine, rotini, penne or a gluten free pasta. Then you choose a sauce of marinara, ragu, or alfredo.  

If you don't know what rotini looks like, the picture book shows pictures of the kinds of pasta offered, I chose spaghetti in a marinara sauce, and meatballs. 

The meals are cooked off to the side of the spare room by Denver the chef. Soon there will be a new location. Too many diners are turned away because of lack of space.

This is seriously good Italian food at a price that lets you enjoy again and again ... all happily done for you by a former Olive Garden chef.

Denver's Olivo Verde
Colonia Aurora #5 cerca IMSS

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Mexican Peso begins new period of depreciation against US Dollar

Posted by Peter L Brandt on January 24th, 2014:

The longest term chart shows that the Peso has been in an historical trend of depreciation against the USD. The charts below shows the exchange rate — the number of Pesos required to purchase one USD. When I started trading the Peso at the IMM in the 1970s, the Peso was at a premium to the USD.

The Peso is coiling within a 5-year symmetrical triangle on the monthly chart. The key challenge within this triangle will be the 14.50 to 15.00 level. A clearance of this level will indicate that much greater depreciation of the Peso against the USD would occur — very possibly a move to 17.0 to 18.0. The last period of substantial depreciation was in late 2008. I am looking for a similar move within the next year or two.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Dinner at the Food Factory

Tonight Marsha and Darryl invited us to dinner at Food Factory at Fabrica La Aurora. The menu was written on a blackboard. We set at a table by a fireplace and glossy, black-framed windows that reached the ceiling. Bev, Marsha, and Darryl ordered chicken kabobs. I ordered Pasta Medetrenea. This was the finest meal I've eaten. Think Caprece in penne pasta. It was a creamy concoction of tomatoes, onions, cheese, black olives, basil and pasta.  My God it was good. A must to visit again.

Here's the best part: The meal was 700 pesos including tip or about $50 for four! I'm used to spending $50 for two in the states no matter where we went.

LA FABRICA LA AURORA is one of San Miguel's most unique destinations, a beautiful art and design center housed in a former textile factory from the turn-of-the century. Come to La Fabrica La Aurora to enjoy a meal or a cup of coffee, take an art class, attend a gallery opening, or simply to wander through one of Mexico's finest collections of art, galleries, design, furniture, more...

Sunday, February 1, 2015

So Where is San Miguel

Click on map to enlarge


Did you see The Top Chef episode set in San Miguel. The contestants competed by incorporating xoconostle, a particular type of prickly pear that is known for its tartness, into a dish highlighting this fruit. Now that we are in San Miguel, you can bet we will be on the lookout for a restaurant that serves a dish with xoconostle.