festival de cine – san miguel adventure fun time part three

san miguel adventure fun time part three of six-
festival de cine 

The major take-aways:

talk to strangers sometimes
if you still have your hearing, always keep earplugs handy
partying is difficult for 20% of the population
a good thunderstorm should never be ignored

Onto the film festival!

The Guanajuato International Film Festival –GIFF is essentially three film festivals happening back to back in three different locations in Guanajuato. Films are shown first in Leon, then San Miguel De Allende and finally Irapuato. Theoretically, we could have driven out and seen our film in the three different locations, but that would have been, shall we say, over-doing it.

In San Miguel, our film was showing on a Monday evening in this building that had a few lives before becoming a cultural center named after a fellow with the nickname “El Nigromante.”

As a writer, poet, journalist, lawyer, and politician Juan Ignacio Paulino Ramírez Calzada was an important voice in the shaping of Mexico in the 1800s. But some how I’m hung up on the fact that he could easily have been called Nacho the Necromancer.

Admission was free. There were no tickets to get in the theater. You just had to line up and hope there was a seat available. Even for our own showing we had to get in line to secure seats. 

Our little short film played in a block with several others that were all quite strong pieces. It felt well curated. Showing along with the film that actually won in the Best Mexican Short category felt like a nice nod from somebody.

So then it’s Monday night. 

There’s a official film festival party mere spitting distance from the cultural center at some bar (the Duke). Hugo and I went over the check it out. Gotta network somehow.

There was a wall of bouncers at the entrance who would not let us in even a minute before the start of the event. Wristband and lanyards notwithstanding.

When we finally got to peek in through the milling bodies at the entrance, there was a cluster of press, a logo wall, and  folks dressed like this was a high end fashion parade. 

There was no way we would even really get into the place without disrupting some important uppity-shmuck.

Instead we went out to have a drink at a dive bar with some other film makers we just met. They were also out on the sidewalk equally under-dressed and wondering what was supposed to be happening.

We had a lovely time chatting. My brain DELIGHTED in the way they fell in and out of Spanish and English and I could still follow most of what they were talking about.

By the time we got back to the party it was well down-graded from ‘fancy.’ The press had packed up and were long gone. Everyone was so drunk they didn’t care what your societal status was.

With the immediate sensorial onslaught, we lost track of the people we had just been hanging out with. We took a turn around the place looking for familiar faces. There were two floors of nonsense to search. The second floor was a deafening dance party. 

Hugo convinced me to go back up and have another look around there, but we were held up by the night’s live entertainment:

Freaking fire dancers.

I could not believe open flames were allowed in that crowded space.

The energy was exuberant in an unhinged way. Many were in the abandon of drunkenness and were randomly throwing themselves into dance. You had to forcefully plow through to get anywhere.

I remember seeing a group of imposing drag queens- a shade of queens glittering in one corner. I did not have to plow through them. They were not in the way and behaving foolishly.

I would not have lasted a moment in that space without earplugs. Not only was the music rather ‘basic af,’ it was infernally loud.

Nothing about the situation was making me feel happy. The music and people’s drunken vibes only made me feel like I would just start screaming nonsense things and eventually become violent. So I tried to be still and film stuff. This is all part of a film festival right? Is that not appropriate? What do I know?

We did manage to find and say good night to a couple of people and then get the heck out of there.

That was enough industry partying for me.

Through the first three days of the week, Hugo and I got to see just about all the short films that we were in competition with. Ours was the only animation shown and people took notice notice! And like it! That’s a confidence boost when you are in unfamiliar film world territory.

We saw a couple of famous faces in person even! At least Hugo knew who they were. 

During one of the film showings we attended, a thunderstorm almost completely distracted me. I don’t get to experience many thunderstorms where I currently live. I had this quiet desire to get out of the theater. I wanted to go out where the lightening could find me. Not the rain, but the lightening. Perhaps I just needed some fresh air. The theater was stuffy. And it had been a while since I experienced thunderstorm. I don’t take them for granted.

Would you have gone to that party?

Are you a thunderstorm person?

Don’t forget to tip the writer!

primeras impresiones – san miguel adventure fun time part two

san miguel adventure fun time part two of six-

primeras impresiones

The major take-aways:

Um, I love old wooden doors 😍 😜

Eh, well, the start of the trip was a little rough. 

But that means things can only get better! 

For Hugo and I, our visit to Morelia in 2020 for their film festival in the COVID times was a decent primer for the colonial Mexican experience.

So coming into San Miguel we did not have such a huge time shock. Even so there was a certain wow factor to the place. 

There are no glowing signs on the buildings, no neon lights in the streets, no giant billboards for feminine rejuvenation. You can focus on the stone work, the doors- the wooden doors that were hundreds of years old- I LOVED the doors!- 🫠

Oh, where was I? 

The layers of history in San Miguel go back centuries; layers both grand and mundane. Coming out of Rosarito (which only became its own city in 1995) I was reminded again of how much I deeply miss antiquated things.

We passed through the plaza principal in the evening on a Sunday and what a dizzy mess that was!

I’m used to general Mexican chaos so I didn’t have too much of a culture shock, but your preferred divine helper help you if you aren’t used to it.

There were two, maybe three different musical groups playing at the same time, couples dancing, vendors selling wares, people eating at cafes, children dashing after one another through the crowds with oversized inflated crayons shaped toys, people stopping to pose stupidly for cameras- and-

Expect fireworks! Not sparklers, but the ones that launch and go bang. Fireworks were being launched out of a tower next to La Parroquia. I think. I was too busy trying to protect my ears from the noise to see clearly!

There are benches that invite one to linger as they are under the manicured shade of a topiary jardín. The temperature IS noticeably cooler under the dense foliage. It’s a fine place to have a sit down and eat ice cream. And people watch.

You too can people watch from where ever you are thanks to some real estate company-  

Live WebCam  

It’s too bad you can’t hear the mariachis though.

My ears buzzed with all the English spoken around me. If you are scared of not knowing enough Spanish, you need not panic in this city. In a previous post I said this was the gringo-est of all Mexican cities. Well that’s because the place is crawling with gringos: usually Americans and Canadians ex-pats, usually retirees. As far back as the 1930s (or so) there has been an enclave of ex-pats in San Miguel. Rest assured, someone nearby is going to know enough English to help you out. 

As custom in the churches of very Catholic countries, you will find the devout pouring their hearts out in fervent prayer even as tourist gawk at the splendor of these old sacred places. Be respectful as you gawk. 

I loved that La Parroquia kept large bouquets of flowers inside. To match it’s aesthetics, it also smelled 𝓭𝓲𝓿𝓲𝓷𝓮. 

You can find vibrant ribbons and dried (and plastic) flower arrangements adorning everything: lintels, posts, iron work on windows, and women’s hair alike.

More than decking yourself out with flowers and ribbons, wear the most comfortable, most reliable shoes you own. 

Walking the varying cobbles and the varying grades of the narrow streets is a work out you need to be prepared for. 

If you doubt your physicality, try not to have any reason to run. Twisted ankles can happen easily depending what street you are on. Wheeled rides will be bumpy and noisy. This doesn’t stop people from whizzing through the streets on them.

Sidewalks seem like a comical afterthought. Many of them are barely wide enough for one person to walk easily. You have to be ready to step into the street to dodge pedestrians and hop back onto the sidewalk to dodge cars and motorbikes. Or get real cozy with with architecture. Everyone is generally very polite about all of this. 

Tidy streets. Hardly any trash anywhere! The exact opposite of Tepito market at closing time! 

Tidy shops. Tidy as in workers will dust every item on the shelves and then the shelves and then sweep and mop… plus they give you attentive service. I was a little shocked at how well kept a lot of the places where. Dusty beach town Rosarito does not match this level of care. From what I have experienced. 

Don’t worry. I am not going to punish anyone with a hyper-fixated post dedicated to nothing but doors! 😜

What do you think of San Miguel so far?

Don’t forget to tip the writer!

la mierda – san miguel adventure fun time part one

san miguel adventure fun time part one of six – 

la mierda 

The major take-aways:

-Don’t forget your passport book. It saves you a lot of undo stress.

-Make sure your driver really knows where you are going. Unless you want to walk.

I was excited to go to a generally safe and easy place in Mexico. I spent the last day scurrying around making sure the house was in order, trying to cover all the details. But trying to do that made me forget something kind of- sort of-  


Just as I was approaching an agent to get a tourist visa at the airport, I went into a panic. I did not have my passport book. I checked and checked my purse. There was a black n95 mask where my passport book should be. An image of it sitting in my desk drawer flashed in my mind’s eye. My heart sank. There was no way to make a turn around trip to pick up the passport book in time to make the flight. I was not going to be able to go. 

Everything was seemingly ruined.

How foolish! I stood in the airport shaking. 

I wasn’t going out of my way to beat myself up about forgetting so essential an item. I’ve been sick for over two years. I didn’t need to punish anymore than I had been by life already. All the same, it was mind numbingly upsetting. 

After the initial shock washed over, we went back over to the custom’s agent to get my my tourist visa. I could at least have that, right? I handed the agent my passport card. We asked for fourteen days. The guy gave me a hundred and eighty day “other” type of clearance (not tourist). No questions. 

Then we just went for it. We tried getting in. 

For all that panic, the only thing I had to do was scan my plane ticket. 


I was not asked to show any ID or stamped bit of paper. My bags were scanned. I didn’t have to take off my shoes. I was not put through a body scanner. The metal detector wand pinged the because of the rivets in my jeans, but really nothing stressful happened at all. 

Though the trip was going forward, the entire time we were in the airport, Hugo was catastrophizing- that I was illegal somehow- that I would end up in prison for some reason. 

Why? My dude, why? 

I was not illegal whatsoever! 

I had my passport card (which is recognized by Mexico) and my global card (which is not recognized by Mexico, but could be helpful for US consular services if need be)- both of these cards are US government issued identifications- and I had a stamped visa. 

The passport card says on the back that it is not valid for international air travel. But here’s the thing that is hard to process when in panic’s debilitating grip: I wasn’t traveling internationally. We were taking a DOMESTIC flight inside of Mexico. The card does say valid for domestic air travel (and not specifically within the US either, with the way it is worded). They didn’t need to see my passport book at all. Technically. 

For the flight back, I did have to show my passport card when leaving Queretero, and I was let through without any problem. 

What ever the policies are in Mexican airports, I was lucky to have no one press me for my passport book before either flight. Those in positions of power, literal gatekeepers were gracious toward me. For whatever reason. 

So we landed and walked on the tarmac from our plane into this tiny yet bustling airport. And that was it. We were in Queretero. No problems.

We needed to be in San Miguel de Allende which is about an hour and a half away by ground transportation so the next thing was ordering a taxi. 

We didn’t bother with ride share apps on this trip.

If you don’t know this already, in Mexico never just hail any cab at an airport. 

You pay a person at a legit car service booth a head of time and wait for a vehicle from that company. When one arrives, you tell the driver where you want to be let out and get on your way. We asked to brought to our hotel. 

The driver- a kid- somehow could not find the exact hotel’s exact location on the app he was using to navigate. So he was going to leave us on some street where the hell ever just inside the city’s historic center. Since we didn’t have a lot of bags and were itching to not be sitting anymore, we agreed to be dropped where the hell ever we were. The driver’s incompetence neatly glossed over. Thanks goodness for satellite tracking and google maps because at least we knew where we were going. 

It turns out, we were a twenty minute walk from the hotel!

And what an amazing walk it was!

Our jangled nerves from the whole forgotten passport book issue vanished as we navigated the almost medieval style streets in mild awe. 

Would you have freaked out about not having all your identifications with you? 

Would you have gotten out of the taxi to walk to your hotel? 

Don’t forget to tip the writer!