The colours are an ever-shifting kaleidoscope of surreal beauty, as the sun, like some celestial lighting director, changes the light from softly luminous to crystalline and dazzling, and then, paints a tableau of glorious pinks, violets and molten gold before the star-studded velvet curtain of darkness descends on the horizon.
San Miguel de Allende, a colonial city perched on the Sierra Madre Mountains in Mexico’s central highlands, is not only a haven for of all artists from photographers and film makers to painters, writers, potters and sculptors- but a work of multi-media art in itself, a feast for the eyes and indeed for the soul.
The light is invariably perfect, the sun’s warmth gentle and caressing, never harsh and scorching, and the colours are as a medieval artist would imagine the colours of heaven.
The sky itself is a moving cavalcade of colour. As the day progresses, it shifts from pale blue to a dazzling cobalt, then aqua before the sunset artist paints the canvas with his magic brush.
As the early morning sun rises gently over the Sierra Madre mountains and warms the city below, the pale blush-pink -and- grey stones of the parish church– San Miguel de Arcangel– turn rose-gold in the light. Its neo-gothic architecture and soaring towers, reminiscent of Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain, form a kind of focal point for the crowds that begin to gather at the Jardin or central square of the city.
Clanging church bells mark the passing of each quarter hour, and the sounds of children’s laughter mingle joyfully with the chatter of tourists and the cries of street vendors as they ply their wares of balloons, hand-made crafts and snacks of corn and chicharron (crisp-fried pig’s belly) around the square. Joyful music emanates from the instruments of street musicians and practicing mariachi bands, while groups of people pose for photographs against the backdrop of the magnificent 16th century church
As I sit on a park bench in the dappled shade of a perfectly pruned tree in the little park across from the church, I am happy I left behind the sub-zero temperatures in Ottawa, Canada. I am here for a writing retreat, and this is the ideal place for it.
“Every day is a perfect day,” is my mantra each morning. No unpredictable weather or sudden snow storm here to spoil my plans for the day.
Indeed, every day is a day to celebrate life and the sheer joy of being alive, as the locals do whether there is any special holiday or fiesta or not.
After strolling around the Jardin for a while, soaking up the sun and the mood-lifting, upbeat atmosphere, I hail a taxi and head for the Aurora Fabrica.
Once a bustling mill that spun vibrantly coloured textiles, it has been transformed into an exquisitely beautiful centre of art and culture, filled with galleries, and shops where you can watch artists and work, buy paintings, antiques, scarves and jewelry, one-of-a kind décor pieces for your home or just wander around exploring and admiring each curated collection.
Finishing off the day, with a relaxing drink at the centre’s café, I take another taxi back to my temporary home on Aldamas Street, marveling at the renaissance and re-creation of this space after it closed its doors as a centre of industy.