Muerte y Viva la Vida

Basicmente no nadar para un mes es…muerte!

The last two swim workouts in Bend have felt like death. Entonces, let me explain why…as part of our “next chapter” adventures we have spent the last month in Mexico studying Spanish and un poco swimming. Reader be aware you may get some Spanish phrases and palabras in this blog.

After a successful trip to the central highlands of Mexico, specifically San Miguel de Allende to celebrate Shannon’s milestone birthday in February we decide to regresar. The goal of this trip was to immerse ourselves in the culture and to take Spanish lessons five days a week a couple hours a day. Ejercicio of the mind versus the body if you will…

We took an Airbnb in the historic zona centro. It was a three story unit with an azotea terrazzo with vistas of the Parroquia and the pueblo. A perfecto spot for a copa de vino and to watch the sunset. It was a short walk to the Principal Jardin the hub the city’s activity. More on that in a bit.

Nuestra Casa Bibliotecta, 52 Relox
The vista from our azotea

Would there be swimming? Por suepesto, however it wasn’t the focus of this adventure. I will quickly highlight the agua adventures and then I will get to the corazon of this adventure. There aren’t many real swimming pool options however a little recon before our trip led me to the Rosewood Hotel as the best option. While there are a lot of upscale boutique hotels in San Miguel, the Rosewood is a larger bougey resort style hotel. We became members of the health club for the month which allowed us to use the pool too.

Rosewood Hotel San Miguel de Allende

The pool was quite warm and there were no painted lines on the bottom or lane lines. Nonetheless it was a beautiful setting a chance to get some in some light swimming with a focus on drills and occasionally hang out poolside in the afternoons. Quite often I was competing for space in the pool with a very determined muerja aqua caminar at…grrr.

The only other stand out water adventure was a day trip to La Gruta Hot Springs. La Gruta is about a 20 minute Uber ride from Centro. It kinda felt like it was middle of nowhere. It’s a nice-ish park like setting with various hot springs scattered throughout. It was clearly a place where many locals would go to picnic and spend the afternoon.

La Gruta

Post La Gruta we walked a mile or two to the small aldea of Atotonilco (place of hot waters~hence the nearby hot springs).

Nuestros caminar a Atotonilco

We toured the Mexican Baroque styled Santuario. It was very simple on the outside with beautiful detailed frescos inside. Some tour books call it the Sistine Chapel of Mexico. A quick lunch at food stall and a ride on the public bus made it a very memorable afternoon.

Santuario
Frescos

As stated, we were there to ejercicio our minds and experience the culture, and that we did! A typical day started by going for a long walk or going to the gimnasio o piscina, followed by a light breakfast, a stop at the local cafe for a shot of espresso to get the brain firing and then off to class.

Cafe

We enrolled at Habla Hispana escuela about a 7 minute walk from our casa. It is a small school owned by two sisters. Class was two hours a day from 11:00-1:00 and I was placed with maestro Enrique. There were only two students in the class and Enrique spoke Spanish 90% of the time.

Note the UW notebook y manzana por el maestro
El ofrenda in the patio of Habla Hispana
Maestra Marta-note the writing on the bench

I can count the number of times on one hand in the last ten years when I was as focused in a meeting/class room setting as I I was with in that Spanish class. And yes…we had homework. My 1100+ day streak in Duolingo certainly was a bonus however there is a lot more to learning Spanish than an app. We also really enjoyed meeting and socializing with like minded new friends. A great experience to be sure.

Immersing ourselves in the culture was easy to do whether it was observing the colors of the bright colonial architecture, listening to the sounds of people in the street or whatever cultural or events or music was taking place in the Principal Jardin.

Parroquia y Principal Jardin

The timing of our trip was perfecto as it coincided with Dia de Muerto festivities. While the name translates to Day of the Dead it is a joyful celebration of remembrance of deceased loved ones. Bright flowers primarily, cempasuchils (marigolds) festooned the calles, tiendas, restaurants and public spaces along with ofrendas (alters) to recorder (remember) the dead.

Papel picado y Parroquia

Every morning it was a treat to get up and walk the streets to see what new decorations had been set up overnight. The Principal Jardin is home to culture, music and dance year round however even more so during this celebration.

On November 1st, the actual Dia de Muerto when when the dead are suppose to come visit their loved ones we went all in and got dressed up as traditional Catrinas y Catrins. We weren’t the only ones as the streets were a buzz with celebrants.

Catrina
Catrin
Enfrente de Parroquia

Were the goals of this trip accomplished? Absolutamente! My Spanish improved markedly from a very low base…improvement nonetheless! I am now looking to take onlinea clases. Immerse ourselves in the culture~si, it was a truly special time to be in San Miguel. In many respects it is hard to describe. My overall impression is that generally speaking the Mexican people are hardworking happy people, value family and friends and enjoy life!

Was it worth it to basically not swim for the month..SI…I just need to suck it up and get back into shape! Viva la Vida!!!

3 comments

  1. You will win EVERY race when you have that Catrin face, Bob. What a great trip and those photos were gorgeous. Thanks for adding that place to a future trip list.

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