Merry Christmas from San Miguel de Allende Mexico.We have come here to spend Christmas. This is a small 450 year old town in the interior of Mexico, some five driving hours from Mexico City. It is is over 6000 feet in elevation with temperatures in the day in the mid 70’s and at night in the mid 40’s. We have rented a 300 year old house which is five blocks from the center of town – the main square. The streets are narrow and cobblestone. The sidewalks are narrow – less then two feet wide so you often have to step into the street to let people by. There are walls against the sidewalks on both sides with doors that open up into small shops and homes like the one we are staying in. This is a town of hills and the villa we are in is several levels with stone steps everywhere so it means lots of exercise. Today, Christmas day, is bright warm and sunny after two days of wind and cool weather.
We have solved the mystery of the frequent wrong number phone calls we were getting from the United States which began a couple of days before Christmas. The house staff said they were wrong numbers so we didn’t pay much attention. Once we did pick up the phone and it was a child asking for Santa which surprised us. We put the phone on answer phone and ignored the calls. But the volume began to build Christmas day until it was every few minutes in the afternoon. Once my wife picked up the phone and it was an adult who said she was calling from the United States for her child. She explained that when you Google "tracking Santa" it gives numbers to call to talk to Santa and this was one of the numbers. I got on the Internet and checked. I found that a federal agency, NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) had a number to call Santa which was exactly the same as our U.S. incoming phone number except for one digit. The calls were obviously children who had misdialed the number and got us instead. I found an AP wire story about a man in Texas whose phone number was one number off of NORAD’s as well and who been flooded with calls too. I wish I would have figured out the problem sooner as I could have left a message for the children.
On Christmas eve we walked to the main square of this town, El Jardin which was full of people. There were 15 to 20 Americans standing in a circle holding candles and singing Christmas music. They sang for over half an hour and it was wonderful to hear the music. The beautiful cathedral in the main square was fully lit and an amazing sight. In the center of the square there is a park with benches and a band stand. There was a full size manger scene in the band stand with straw and full size figures. In front there was a pen with a donkey and several sheep inside. All the vendors were out and people strolling around or listening to the music. The large Poinsettia Christmas tree in front of the church was lit as well. It was very festive.
We found a restaurant that was open and ate dinner. It was full of mostly American people. There is a large number of Americans who have moved here or stay for long periods. About 10:00 at night the church bells began to ring all of over town. They kept it up for some time. Then loud explosions of firecrackers began going off periodically around town – the traditional way of celebrating holidays here. When it was midnight, it sounded like an invasion with firecrackers going off. It was like our 4th of July. This continued for an hour or so and then it was quiet.
Unfortunately, the next morning, Claudio, the household rooster pet, was not bashful about letting us know it was sunrise along with a few more early fireworks as well. There is no possibility of sleeping. Alice, the household pet rabbit, is also waiting at the bottom of the steps from our upstairs bedroom. She expects to be fed as well. At night, she hops up the stairs all the way to the 3rd roof level where she sleeps. My wife, Lita, bought her carrots at the market and some lettuce which she enjoyed as Christmas breakfast.
After a small Christmas celebration we walked back to the square and found it crowded with people. The temperature is about 75 degrees and it is very pleasant. All of the vendors were out and people were photographing the manger scene. The benches were full of people sitting and watching the passing parade. Everyone was enjoying the weather and the experience.
Happy Holidays to all – December 25, 2006 Mexico