Friday, July 01, 2016

Mosaicos Colibrí in San Miguel de Allende

If you've ever traveled with a kid, you know how thrilling it is when you stumble on a fun way to kill an afternoon that doesn't involve ice scream or screen time. Such was our delight at discovering Mosaicos Colibrí, or Hummingbird Mosaics, which is owned and run by the utterly delightful Dulce. Dulce was once an art teacher in California, and she has brought her love of mosaic-making (and apparently boundless love and patience with children) to San Miguel, where she offers drop-in mosaic classes! 
Chloe and Lizzie, embarking on the daunting task of selecting pieces to make mosaics on their bird houses. Dulce has literally thousands of pieces of glass, tile, ceramic, beads - you name it - to choose from.
She helps the kiddos cut the pieces. Notice Lizzie's daddy in the background, working on his own mosaic mirror.
The glueing-on of the tile selections. This took at least a couple of hours! Although Lizzie's mom and I made our own little mosaic necklace pendants, we stepped out for a while at this point to get some coffee (Dulce encourages dropping your kids off!!).

The finished products. Gorgeous little bird houses. Muchas gracias, Dulce!

Chloe quickly begged to return to the mosaics place (I think she was a little jealous of Lizzie's new mirror), so we returned this week with some new friends, and I now have a new heart-strewn mirror to pack. :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Day trip to Guanajuato

The next day, Dali took us on another drive, to Guanajuato! Eric and I had briefly visited this fascinating city before, but it had been a long time and we didn't have the benefit of having Dali and his impressive breadth of knowledge with us.

The girls used the 1 1/2-drive to make Father's Day cards...
A view of the city from the vantage point of the El Pipilla statue, and impressively HUGE

As you can kind of see here, there's pretty much no right angles in GTO - it's all crazy angles and tiny narrow streets. I wish I'd taken some photos of the tunnels. Many of the city's streets are fully or partially underground or carved in a mountain. It's like driving in and out of subway tunnels!

El Pipila, a hero in the battle for independence from Spain.
Another view of El Pipila, from below in the city square. See him up there?
Apparently a "must-see" in GTO is the Museo de la Momias - the Mummy Museum. I won't like - it's creepy. It made me (I think all of us) feel pretty uncomfortable, seeing the remains of these humans. And they're not actually mummies, they're decomposed remains of bodies that were kept somewhat in tact by their burial method (pine boxes). Most of them were unearthed because their descendants didn't pay the taxes for their graves. Sad face! They're all from the past 150 years or so.
Onto more pretty things! Our next stop was Teatro Juarez, or Juarez Theater. This impressive building opened more than 100 years ago, after 30-ish years of construction (which means is holds many architectural designs and styles - I see French, Italian, Moorish and of course Spanish elements).
Inside the theater. It still has its original seats! It's a gorgeous space. I'd love to see a performance there some day. Happy Father's Day to these awesome and adventurous dads!
In front of the theater - a parade! The history and meaning of this parade is way too lengthy for me to go into here, apparently over the generations it has turned into "La Fiesta de los Locos," or the fiesta of crazy people. I didn't capture all the wild and hilarious costumes very well, but let's just say lots of kids were dressed up looking pretty crazy and cracking whips!

Just a really cool door.
The girls loved watching this spray paint artist in the Jardin.

A special Father's Day lunch - hey look, I made it into a photo!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Santuario Cañada de la Virgen

On Saturday we went on a little adventure to Santuario Cañada de la Virgen, truly one of the most special spots I've visited in Mexico. Again, I won't go into the whole history since Wikiepedia makes it so easy - click here for their info. But in short, this pyramid was recently discovered - it had been buried under dirt and rocks for a thousand years, and people just thought it was another hill among many hills. It sits on private property, so access is tightly controlled (don't go without a reservation). It has only been open to the public for five years.
The site is only about 20 miles from San Miguel.
You have to ride a government bus to the entrance to this walkway, and then it's still a 20 minute walk to the pyramid. It's quite a journey!

Arriba y arriba! It's hard to believe that this is all private property, apparently belonging to a family from Argentina.
About 100 members of the Otomi people lived here. As Wiki says: "These people used astronomical criteria, religious beliefs and agricultural cycles in selecting the Laja River Valley for the construction of this Pre-Hispanic burial site."

Our awesome Discovery Tours guide Dali, who is from San Miguel and appears to know all there is to know about the entire region. Here he is describing the House of the longest night.” As with other similar archeological sites, this Pyramid and is adjacent gardens were designed to study the constellations and stars. On the longest night of the year - December 21, the winter solstice, the sun would hit a corner of this area perfectly. The entire sight is situated in perfect design with the sun and the moon settings. It's pretty incredible. They would fill this huge area with water, and then study the constellations in the reflection of the water.
Walking along the pyramid. Many pieces of jewelry, pottery and other artifacts were discovered here, along with 19 bodies. It's all currently in storage, awaiting the funds to restore and display them.

We made it! The walk up and down the steps was really precarious, the steps were super narrow. This is at the top of the front part of the pyramid. The shaman as his family would live at the back part, at the highest point. At the time they built the pyramid, an adult Otomi would stand at about four feet tall - shorter than Chloe is now! This site would be so spectacular to visit at night, and view the constellations from the perspective of the Otomis and they architecture. The family that owns the lands does not yet allow nighttime visits - hopefully they'll loosen up soon! What a treasure this is.
It was a big outing and the girls did great, but we were all kind of beat. Somehow we managed to get the girls to rally to walk to the Puertacita for a special treat. They are loving these dolls! This is outside the gate to our house.
The beautiful setting at the Puertacita always seems to inspire our little illustrators....

Sunday, June 19, 2016

We found our pizza, and Sabores San Miguel

The other day I took the girls back to that cool open air market, Mercado Centro San Miguel. After some fine gelato, we decided to get a pizza, and the ladies were totally fascinated by the from-scratch method of the pizza maker. Check out his cool little oven! I have to say, that pizza was REALLY GOOD. We took it home to share, and we all agreed that next time we need to get three or four. I can't seem to find the name of the pizza place, I'll track it down!
That evening, Eric and I stole away to Sabores San Miguel, a "gastronomic festival." A FOODIE FESTIVAL!! It was incredible. If anyone happens to read this who also happens to be a food-lover, GO TO SAN MIGUEL FOR THIS FESTIVAL! It happens every year at this time, in Juárez Park. There was an overwhelming selection of food stalls, from restaurants offering their dishes, to mom-and-pops selling pre-packaged goods. And there were also an amazing array of tastings of beer, wine, whiskey, tequila and, of course, mezcal, all produced in the region. It was delightful.
Here we purchased some jam...the ingredients: peaches, almonds, vanilla and calendula. YUM! This was from a restaurant we've been to called Nectar, but we call it the Hummingbird Cafe because of all the hummingbird-related merchandise.

Lots of sweets...

I'm not a big whiskey person, but this was actually pretty delightful. Super smooth. Strangely, I can't find a link to it, even on the festival's site. If you happen to see O'Donnells White Wolf Whiskey and that's your thing, give it a shot!
No modern food festival is complete without a local cerveza. Cerveceria Allende fits the bills, and their tastings were delicious and refreshing...
More pics from that lovely outing...

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Lizzie is here!

Two weeks into our trip, sweet Lizzie and her awesome parents arrived for a two-week stay! I think they arrived just in time, Chloe was getting pretty bored with us and was super ready for some gal-pal fun!

Lizzie hit the ground running, and made it to Spanish camp the morning after she arrived. Her Spanish is much stronger than Chloe's, so I think Chloe is extra-happy to have her there!
The craft that day - flag making!
After camp, we took to the girls to the market for some fresh juice.

That's the face of a kid soooo happy to have her buddy at her side!

Peas in a pod - they love to draw (lots of drawings of each other!).

Chloe's birthday kicked off with matching hair do's.

The wonderful teachers at their camp sang a Mexican version of Happy Birthday.

Strolling the town after camps - strolling can take a while, there are so many lovely things to stop and admire.

Dolls dolls dolls! These handmade dolls are such a hit with both of them. The ladies who make and sell them must be very happy with us....
The afternoon was capped off with - of course - swimming!
And, of course, another round of sweets. These are the cupcakes we bought at the market, made by the girls who are students at the School for the Deaf. They were so beautiful!
Lizzie gets to practice her reading, and we get a break from bedtime reading...
This morning we woke up to hot air balloons in the sky! The girls were thrilled. You can kind of see it there in the distance.
I had to throw in this photo, from the first time the girls "met." Chloe was about a month old, and Lizzie had just turned 1. They really haven't spent much time with each other over the years, since we moved to LB, but every time they get together, they don't miss a beat and just have a total blast. It's so sweet!