01 September 2011
Red Hot in Mexico
On the pulse of the liveliest events and activities in town. When in San Miguel de Allende, feel the heat!
Pack some heat on your body's tensest spots with a hot stone massage at the stunning Laja Spa, a stucco-and-dark-wood oasis of serenity in non-stop San Miguel.
The stones don't just feel good, they do good - restoring your energy so you can burn as bright as the city. There's also a temazcal (Mexican-style sauna) and a range of other treatments. Visit the website >
Independence Day and San Miguel Day
The temperatures in September don't climb very far up the thermometer, but in all other senses it's the hottest month of the year. Mexico celebrates its independence and then San Miguel its founding. Cue: festivities of all kinds, the louder and livelier the better.
San Miguel marks Independence Day with special verve and because Ignacio Allende - who was born here and gave the town its name - is considered one of Mexico's founding fathers. Soaring towers of fireworks, called castillos, are set off in the jardin every September 16th.
On the heels of the Independence Celebration comes the more local, but just as thrilling, Festival of San Miguel, the city's patron saint, on September 30th. The parades for this event are some of the best of the year. Dancers spin and stomp their way through the streets wearing indigenous adornments - elaborately feathered headdresses, leather loin-cloths, bodies painted like skeletons. Again, the castillos crackle and sparkle and there's even a mock war between the good and bad angels that involves shooting at each other with roman candles in the jardin at 4 a.m. Not to be missed, but wear protective clothing.
Learn Mexican cooking at Sazon
Want to learn the difference between an ancho and a chipotle pepper? And how to make the most of their spicy flavors in Mexican dishes that, when you prepare them back home, will have your friends voting your kitchen the Best Mexican Restaurant in town? Sign up for a class with a master Mexican chef at Casa de Sierra Nevada's acclaimed Sazon Cookery School. Every class includes samples, so prepare your taste buds for some fun. If savouring rather than serving is your thing, then head to the Casa's Andaza restaurant, for Mexican tradition with a modern twist in atmospheric settings that include an outdoor courtyard, Wine Room and Art Room.
Within minutes of downtown San Miguel are a string of hot springs that you can enjoy year-round. With its water slides and water-spewing giant mushrooms, Xote is devoted to children; Taboada features an Olympic-sized pool for lap swimmers. The best option for pure, idyllic lolling about is La Gruta, where you can order a fine lunch after exploring the man-made grotto that doubles as a steam bath. and for the ultimate indulgence choose The Mayan Baths: swim through underground crystal grottos to outdoor pools with fabulous valley views, then walk through candlelit tunnels to a pyramid chamber and relax to music in steamy waters.
Zumba in the Park
Every Saturday morning at 8:30 or thereabouts (this is Mexico, after all), Parque Juarez is filled with fiery salsa, flamenco and merengue music and scores of people shaking hips and booties to get in shape. Join the party and get jazzed for the rest of your day.
By Jeannie Ralston, a US-based writer for many international publications.
Can you suggest any other places in San Miguel that sizzle?