Background Info on both
We will be leaving shortly for Mexico for a month. We will split our time between San Miguel de Allende and Bahias de Huatulco. We have written a bit of background on both places as they are very different.
San Miguel de Allende is a city and municipality located in the far eastern part of the state of Guanajuato in central Mexico. It is 274 km (170 mi) from Mexico City. Historically, the town is important as the first municipality declared independent of Spanish during the Mexican War of Independence.
However, the town waned during and after the war, and at the beginning of the 20th century was in danger of becoming a ghost town. Its Baroque/Neoclassical colonial structures were "discovered" by foreign artists who moved in and began art and cultural institutes such as the Instituto Allende and the Escuela de Bellas Artes.
This attracted foreign art students, especially former U.S. soldiers studying on the G.I. Bill after the Second World War. Since then, the town has attracted a significant amount of foreign retirees, artists, writers and tourists, which is shifting the area’s economy from agriculture and industry to commerce catering to outside visitors and residents.
The schools spurred the opening of hotels, shops and restaurants to cater to the new visitors and residents. Many of the American veterans who came to study in San Miguel would later come back to retire, and have been credited with saving the town.
The city took on a Bohemian quality in the 1960s and 1970s as counterculture hippies moved in. Many of the old "ruins" of colonial houses have sold for more than a house in Mexico City.
The city and nearby sanctuary were declared a World Heritage Site in July 2008. It was chosen both for its well-preserved Baroque colonial architecture and layout as well as its role in the Mexican history. The area which has been inscribed includes 64 blocks of the historic center and the sanctuary of Atotonilco with the title of "Villa Protectora de San Miguel el Grande y el Santuario de Jesus Nazareno de Atotonilco”.
The layout of the center of the city is mostly a straight grid, which was favoured by the Spanish during colonial times. However, due to the terrain, many roads are not straight. There are no parking meters, no traffic signals and no fast food restaurants. These roads are lined with colonial era homes and churches. With a few exceptions, the architecture is domestic rather than monumental, with well-tended courtyards and rich architectural details. The houses have solid walls against the sidewalks, painted in various colors, many with bougainvillea vines falling down the outside and the occasional iron-grated window. Many of the larger structures have large front doors, which were used by horses and carriages.
In the historic center, there are an estimated two thousand doors, behind which there are at least two thousand courtyards of various sizes. Many of these have been restored to their former colonial state, with façades of ochre, orange and yellow, windows and doors framed by handcrafted ironwork and made of hewn wood. The interior roofs are flat, of heavy mortar supported by large beams. Very few structures have atriums or front yards; instead, open private space is behind the main façade in courtyards. These courtyards are private gardens protected from dust, excess water and intruders.
We will be staying in an old hacienda that has been divided up into appartments
Bahias de Huatulco is located in the state of Oaxaca where the foothills of the Sierra Madre del Sur Mountains meet the Pacific Ocean approximately 500 km south of Acapulco.
Huatulco is a resort region with white Pacific coast beaches. It’s made up of 9 bays, including the port of call Santa Cruz. Tangolunda Bay is home to resort hotels and a golf course. The inland community of La Crucecita has some restaurants and shops around a central plaza.
Huatulco's tourism industry is centered on its nine bays thus the name Bahias de Huatulco but has since been unofficially shortened to simply Huatulco. The area has a wide variety of accommodations from rooms for rent, small economy luxury hotels, luxury villas, vacation condominiums, bed and breakfasts, as well as several high-end luxury resorts on the ocean.
Until resort development began in the 1980s, Huatulco was little known except as a coffee-growing area. In 1984 Fondo Nacional de Turismo a government agency dedicated to the development of tourism in Mexico, acquired 21,000 hectares of land to develop a tourism center, similar to that in Cancún. The existing population was relocated to Santa María Huatulco. The plan resulted in the improvement of roadways and other infrastructure. It also has populated areas mixed with "green zones" to make the area ecologically friendlier.
About 80% of all tourism in Bahias de Huatulco is domestic in nature. Only about 20% of Huatulco's tourism is foreign, mainly because international air access is limited. Bahias de Huatulco has a small international airport just 20 minutes from the main resorts in Tangolunda Bay. This airport has increased tourism, and helped to popularize the Pacific Coast backpacker route through Huatulco, Zipolite, Mazunte, and Puerto Escondido.The peak season for foreign tourism is typically from December through April. Sunshine can be expected about 330 days a year with the average temperature of 28 °C (82.4 °F).
Fred visited that part of the coast in the late 70s and spent time in nearby Puerto Escondido and Puerto Ángel when they were both sleepy little Mexican fishing villages with only one of two small gringo hotels for young hippies. While there Fred met and got a ride from a fellow traveler, driving an old school bus he purchased in New Jersey going to Guatemala to be sold. The bus owner had picked up along the way a number of young folks, who were willing to chip in a few bucks each for gas, all heading south. Fred stayed with him until San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas. Can you find him in the old photo?