Monday, November 9, 2015

San Miguel Homes

Today, I scooted on up to the Library to go on the SMA House and Garden Tour, which is conducted weekly to raise funds for the Public Library. As was explained by one of the Volunteers, the public library is public in only name - everyone can use it - but in fact it is privately, not government supported. Community volunteers work the weekly tour as well as other fund raising events, plus use the proceeds of the café sales to provide the money needed to run the library and the programs.
It has been in operation for 61 years thanks to the donations and time given by local SMA residents and visitors. It provides English language books, not only for the Gringos which live here, but also for Spanish students who are learning English. In addition to providing books, the library hosts all sorts of free programming such as English language instruction, music and art classes. The library also supports the rural school's English language programming as well as provides University scholarships for Mexican children, The tour cost $270 pesos and there were 3 bus loads (~20 seats each) and as such the tours provide the lions share of funding, aside from private donations.
Everyone got to enjoy the Mariachi band as they waited for the tour to begin.
The first home we visited was Casa de la Cuesta and the Mask Museum - the home of Bill and Heidi LeVasseur.
The entranceway (tunnel) to the Casa
Bill is a collector of Indigenous Ceremonial Masks. According to wiki:
"Through his visits to often remote indigenous communities and his observation and documentation of masked dancing, he has also acquired an extensive knowledge of masks and masked dancing that he is eager to share." Bill was on hand to answer questions about the casa and about his collection of over 600 masks.
It is a true colonial home with all two floors of rooms coming off a big centre courtyard and on the second floor served by a balcony overlooking the courtyard and the view south. There is a spectacular view of San Miguel from the second floor. There are numerous courtyards and patios, terraces and balconies - each space a comfortable place to enjoy a book or a drink with friends. The home serves as a B&B with a few rooms open for paying guests. One would be very happy to spend a few days here for sure, but I will let you be the judge based on the pictures below.
The central courtyard
The 2nd floor balcony

The next house on the tour was a remodelled contemporary home in the west side of San Antionio, not too far from where I am staying. It is listed for sale with a local realtor, priced at $389,000 USD. The key feature of the 2,900 sf 3+ bedroom 3 bath house is the outdoor space - the 2nd floor terrace, covered patio with, of course, a spectacular view.
Over the rise to the south/west is a dam forming a large reservoir. There are several reservoirs in the area daming local streams and to catch runoff and prevent flooding during the rainy season serving not only for drinking water but also for irrigation.

After the tour I tagged along with the volunteers (Marc and Sue among them) for a late lunch at the Hecho en Mexico. We were there for dinner on my first night in SMA, but we were in the courtyard that time. This time we were in the "Toller Cranston Room", which features works from this artist. Toller Cranston was a Canadian figure skater (1976 Olympic bronze medal winner) and painter. Toller retired to SMA in 1997. He passed away last year.

One of the Toller Cranston paintings in the Hecho en Mexico
A self portrait
I was surprised when I first arrived to see a for sale sign on the Casa I am renting. The building houses 3 self contained apartments and according to reports, has been on the market for some time. The fact that it has not sold tells me it is priced high at $340 USD. I understand from my friends that the market is picking up though, so I guess it will sell at some point. Maybe it could be had now for under $300. Hard to believe you could get 3 separate apartments in an excellent location for that little money. One could rent two units and live in the third. Too bad I am not ready to invest in something like this right now. You can get the details here.


  1. Too bad the library volunteers have to work so hard to fund a public institution, but certainly seems like a worthwhile effort - you will have to work to keep to your writing schedule, with so many opps to be social and learning.

    1. Yes, for sure Darlene. I am having to turn down some activities, but even so - there so many activities that I just can't say no to.

  2. The art work is fascinating, Peggy.

    Seeing the numerous displays first hand which are shown in your photographs in this post alone would be enough to make the journey to San Miguel worthwhile. One of my "descendants" is relatively hot at the moment, and has participated in shows in Tokyo, Paris, Stockholm and (of all places) Baku, Azerbaijan, in recent months.

    I recall Toller Cranston on the ice rink, but I was not aware of his accomplishments as a painter.

    1. I knew you had an interest in art, but wasn't aware that you had an artist in the family. SMA is quite the artists community. I have hardly shown a small fraction of the interesting pieces I have seen. Tomorrow's blog will explain a little about how SMA became to be such an artsy community and a bit more about the Gringos here, if I can generalize. Stay tuned.

      Actually, Toller was an artist first, and then a skater. He came from an artistic family.