One of the things that makes travel fun for us is the opportunity to become a temporary local. We love the adventure and discovery that travel provides, but we equally enjoy the luxury of being “homebodies” abroad. Occasionally we do stay at hotels or B&Bs, but our preference is to rent a house or apartment from a local. For us, vacation rentals offer more bang for your buck, but it also provides a fantastic opportunity for cultural immersion.
Rancho Xotolar (show-toe-lar) is an authentic, family-owned, working ranch just 18 kilometers from the center of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. This 1250-acre ranch is set amid pristine rolling pastures and dramatic canyons – all adjacent to the newly opened pre-Columbian archaeological site of Cañada de la Virgen. The Morín family has lived and farmed Rancho Xotolar for six generations and now welcomes guests to experience ranch life that is untouched by modernization.
The National Museum of Anthropology (Museo Nacional de Antropologia) in Mexico City is widely considered one of the world’s best and most important museums. The extensive museum contains the world’s largest collections of prehispanic archaeological and anthropological artifacts from Mexican and Mesoamerican civilizations.
Taking a cooking class in San Miguel de Allende is not only a great way to learn a little about Mexican culture and cuisine, it’s also a lot of fun. You’re often introduced to new flavors and ingredients that you aren’t familiar with and shown new methods or techniques that you can’t wait to put into practice in your own kitchen. You can look forward to meeting some locals and other travelers, sharing a meal, and perhaps making some new friends. Best of all, you get to take the recipes and your new found knowledge back home with you. What could be a more perfect souvenir?
Founded in 1542, the colonial city of San Miguel de Allende is a UNESCO World Heritage site within Mexico’s hilly central highlands, about 170 miles northwest of Mexico City. Known for the beauty of its well-preserved colonial architecture, vibrant art scene, cobblestoned streets, and eternal spring-like weather, it’s hard not to fall in love with this charming and picturesque city. Many do. In their November 2013 issue, Condé Nast Traveler named San Miguel #1 in their Reader’s Choice Awards for Top 25 Cities in the World.
We were waiting on the side of the road to catch a bus to take us back to San Miguel de Allende after spending the day at one of the nearby hot spring. It was the rainy season in Mexico’s central highlands and, sure enough, as we stood there in the late afternoon, the rain began to fall and our little family huddled together to stay warm.
Situated 14 km outside of San Miguel de Allende in central Mexico, you’ll find the sleepy hamlet of Atotonilco (ah-toe-toe-NEAL-co). As you enter the town, you’ll be greeted by a statue of Miguel Hidalgo and an unremarkable whitewashed church. The simple exterior of the church, known as El Santuario de Atotonilco (Sanctuary of Atotonilco), belies the unexpected Baroque gem found within.