Friday, December 11, 2009

San Miguel de Allende's Place in History

The city of San Miguel de Allende is right in the seat of the 1810 Movement for Independence from Spain. It is the home of the Revolutionary leader Ignacio Allende, a Captain in the Spanish army who grew sympathetic to the plight of the Aboriginal peasants whose numbers had decreased under Spanish rule from an estimated 25 million to fewer than 1 million. Because of this exploitation and murder of Mexico's indigenous population, Allende joined in the conspiracy to overthrow his own countrymen. The name of the city of San Miguel was changed in his honor. The Revolution started at five AM on September 16, 1810 when the Priest, Miguel Hidalgo of nearby Dolores (now named Dolores Hidalgo) woke his Congregation with Church bells and issued his "Grito de Dolores", calling for Independence from Spanish rule. He was then joined by Allende and others and soon an army was formed and the Revolution had started in earnest. There had been skirmishes of resistance here and there over the previous few years but the Insurgents were without skilled leaders and were easily defeated. People like Allende provided this needed leadership.

San Miguel de Allende is a favorite place for expatriate Canadians and Americans and has developed into an artists community. It is the home of Toller Cranston, the Canadian Figure Skater, bandleader Doc Severinsen and the actor Antonio Banderos, among others. This NOB influence is seen in restaurant, hotel and real estate prices which are more in the Los Angeles range than that of rural Mexico. Nice condos can go for $250,000 - $800,000 USA. It is easy to see the attraction for artists. The light here is unlike anywhere else I have been, perhaps partially a result of the thin atmosphere at it's 6,200 foot altitude. The streets are lit with the reflected light from other brightly coloured buildings, giving everything a surreal glow. The doors, windows and balconies of San Miguel are spectacular. It would be very easy to spend a month or two here and fill a hard drive with photos. I have one month.

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