By Jim Ferri
A rewarding aspect of travel is discovering the unexpected. I had one of those moments recently.
I was in Mexico City, and decided to take a quick side trip to San Miguel de Allende with my friend Greg. He’s lived and worked in Mexico for many years and since he’s raved about San Miguel for as long as I have known him, I set my sights on it.
I had rented a car and despite having gotten a late start (I was pushing the car hard to make up time) when I saw a sign for Querétaro we decided to stop even though we knew it would delay us more. I turned off the highway and with Greg directing, we headed for the old center of the city.
We bounced along the cobbled streets and after finding a parking spot, set out on foot for the center. A few minutes later the two of us had our moments of discovery.
It was about 9pm on a Friday and as we headed towards the plaza we walked through a little park that was bursting with activity. A group of teenagers were gathered by a small fountain, as parents sat on benches chatting with friends and neighbors while children ran and played all about them. The mini-park quickly tumbled into an old colonial plaza where folk dancers were performing for the neighborhood. There wasn’t a tourist in sight except us, and amid the swirls of color, with the music and laughter resonating off the colonial walls, it was if we had stepped into our own little movie set.
We watched for a while and then wandered down another block to another little plaza, this one ringed by restaurants. At one we took an outside table to be better able to watch the passing parade, a parade of lovers, children, old people, vendors selling all kinds of things and people walking by singing along with the music coming from our little restaurant.
We had been there 1½ hours, and we knew we had to get going since we had already been here way too long. But we sat back, nevertheless, and slowly finished our beers as our little Querétaro movie continued to unfold all around us.
And with not a tourist in sight.