While our tequila (and women) come from Jalisco, our office is located in the colonial city and UNESCO world heritage site San Miguel de Allende. Wikitravel says, “San Miguel is, first and foremost, a city built for relaxing.” While this may be true for some, I must disagree. Small towns often lend themselves for unwinding, and certainly there is enough new-agey yoga, meditation, energy work and the like to go around, but beneath this tranquil surface churns the never-ending current of local celebrations.
I’m not trying to back-talk Wikitravel, mind you. It’s just that all those Americans, Canadians, and Europeans who've been swindled by San Miguel’s charm and “bought a house in the first few days” have also created a subculture, somewhat akin to the outsiders. Asking around many ex-pats (or semi-ex-pats) say that to them San Miguel is a place to “discover themselves” or “take time for themselves;” it’s “downtime,” “magical,” and “full of interesting people.”
Mittie iguana, with one clawed foot on each side of the cultural line, can’t fault them. It’s always easier to congregate with people from similar backgrounds or experiences, especially if they speak your native tongue. In every big city in the world you can find neighborhoods like Little Italy or Chinatown (a personal favorite of mine, just east of New Orleans, is Little Vietnam. Yummy Pho soup!)
However, behind the uni-cultural, modern façade of what my Mexican friends call “the relax,” there are a plethora of festivals based in indigenous customs that rock pretty hard. To me, these fiestas (nearly every weekend) are the heart of San Miguel - like the Alborada that starts at 4 in the morning or the parade of Los Locos in which costumed demons, ghouls and animals dance down the streets all day. These are people who revere their traditions and know how to throw a serious party to celebrate them (drinking tequila, of course.)