Mexico is the….

12 June 2017
Ben Pentreath

Well, I couldn’t have said it better than this jacket in the bar of the restaurant we went to one night!  Too right.

We’re back! We had the best time ever. It’s always good to have a change of scene, but sometimes all those little ingredients that make it work come together – the right people, a fab place, the right weather… lots to do, nothing to do, lots to eat and drink…. (and the perfect week to get away from politics at home).

We were staying in San Miguel de Allende, a beautiful town that you may know a bit already if you’re American… the southern states are not far away. But the place was curiously empty of visitors, which was nice. We were with our friends Brandon and Will – Brandon’s family have had a house here since the 60s.

Snapshots of San Miguel life, in no particular order:

Boxes at the post office:

Which is scarier?

Every evening, in the main square, dozens of Mariachi bands gather to serenade the crowds in exchange for a small fee.  When we were very drunk they played for us later that night. 

Dinner that first evening was in a restaurant overlooking the city.

(to which this is required dress). 

Early the following morning, I went for a walk before too many people were up and about. 

There were four people sweeping around the church. Then again, if you are a loyal reader of the blog, you know I’ve got a thing about sweeping and churches (see The Floor Polisher of the Pantheon). 

Probably the most photographed street in San Miguel:

The next day we went to Atotonilco, where there is a beautiful Sanctuary:

and where my love of plastic stacking chairs in churches was well fulfilled:

A side chapel contains some of the most beautiful wall and ceiling frescoes I have ever seen.  A serene experience. We were all quiet as we stared and stared. 

The following day we drove up to Guanajuato City. 

The theatre, in the centre of town, is an amazing late 19th century building, perfectly preserved. 

More scenes;

Inside the huge market, the Mercado Hidalgo:

Days drifted by, spent by the pool, walking, chatting. I think this is the first year on record, thanks largely to instagram, magazines (and my minor addiction to news of the general election) that I didn’t read a single book.  I’m not sure I’m very proud of this, but as well to be truthful. Maybe I’ll do better in Italy?

We went down to Mexico City for a couple of nights. I’d been here about 3 or 4 years ago and adored it. I just love this place.

More stacking chairs, in the cathedral. Tick.  REALLY nice ones.

Every solider or policeman in Mexico City likes checking their phone a lot. 

The remarkable Diego Rivera murals in the Palacio Nacional. 

Angela Merkal was visiting that afternoon (put out more flags). 

We went to the flower market…. A deserted art deco movie theatre:

And we ended our day of wandering in the extraordinary Anthropological Museum, which is one of the most beautiful museum buildings I think I’ve visited.   (Complete with floor polishers). 

And we left, and drifted back through parks filled with Agapanthus (and romantically entwined lovers, I noticed, looking at the photographs later).

On Saturday, we visited the Casa Luis Barragan, which I had been to on our previous visit. Cameras and photography are allowed, but for a very large fee, so I will refer to you my previous Mexico blog if you want to have a look around there! Saturday afternoon meant a last lunch and final glasses (and glasses) of margaritas, before heading off to the airport in a bit of a haze.

We got back to London on Sunday afternoon, eyes blinking with that strange sensation of being back home. This morning, early, Charlie went down to Dorset to collect an extremely happy Mavis, and I went to the office, where all was well. We were only gone a week, but it felt much longer, and there’s nothing like drinking from the amazing, vibrant, hot-coloured life of Mexico to give you a shot in the arm.  Thank you Will and Brandon, (and to Brandon’s mother Linda) for the best time ever.


12 comments on this post


Thank you for sharing your images of Mexico good to see the real Mexico away from tourists.We have just returned home to Stourbridge in the West Midlands after a glorious holiday in Weymouth and Wiltshire my perfect holiday.Many years ago l read that travel does not as people believe broaden the mind it does in fact narrow the mind because it reveals what and where you truly love well for me my favourite place to date is West Dorset countryside and coast perfectly loca ted and an embracing calm and nurturing hug heaven.Not sure about Poundbury beautiful buildings in a beautiful area but it will never be like the old dorset community and villages and the true dorset people. Although l am only 55 l do tend to love the past and hope Dorset never loses its authenticity.


I was also introduced to San Miguel by the wonderful Schubert family (Brandon’s sister is a dear friend)! A truly magical experience!

Liz Allensays:

I have become addicted to your posts – often flagging them to enjoy during a squirrelly moment at the office if I can’t read them right away. They have become my zen moment that often kick off a quick cyber chat with my friend Shelly (who introduced me to you); a flurry of we must go there emails, plans, resolutions to visit all the locales in your blog. Thank you for the lovely photos of San Miguel. I scrolled through them several times. Your shot of the most photographed street in San Miguel is sublime. There is a reason everyone loves that street and you captured it beautifully. Thank you to Will, Brandon & Linda for extending the invite to you so that we could enjoy vicariously!


Fantastic details here – from tiles to typography, from sweepers to chairs to reliefs. Thank you very much for such a colourful tour. Best wishes, Nicola

Jane Duckworthsays:

So wonderful to see so much colour and character! Your photos reminded me of how much I loved Mexico, I was last there in 1993 on my honeymoon, but we must go back and visit San Miguel de Allende! Looks like my kind of place.
Thank you Ben and Charlie for reminding me, it’s on my long bucket-list of re-visits!
P.s I love Pink & Green too : )

Ben, living in Texas, I’ve seen many photos from friends of San Miguel. These are by far the best and most comprehensive I’ve seen.
I had to laugh at your “love” of plastic chairs in cathedrals!


I am so glad you got back safely. Your photos as always are beautiful. You mention that it wasn’t as crowded as you perhaps anticipated with tourists. San Miguel de Allende used to be a popular spot for weddings and special events. They are having a problem enticing tourists due to the drug problems. Though we don’t go any longer it is recommended here is the States that one not venture there. A good friend who has visited frequently went back several months ago and said that was their last trip as they felt insecure and had several bad experiences. I am just so happy you are back safely!!!!

Sally Leonardsays:

Ben, I live in Texas and have seen many photos of San Miguel but never, ever as many beautiful ones as you have here! Thank you so much!
I had to laugh at your “love” of plastic chairs in the cathedrals!
Now I’m off to read your previous post on Mexico!

deby (in Canada)says:

Oh Ben…. thank you for that wonderful group of pictures- I feel like I have just been on holiday!
My favourite picture of the whole trip- the video Charlie posted yesterday of Mavis running to
greet him!
xx deby


Love the plastic chairs! Saw some in the cathedral in Pienza last week. I suppose it means these places actually get used for their intended purpose and are not just museums.
(( I think I spotted you in the airport (we were on our way to Rome) but I was too shy to say hi 🙁 ))


I’d been following Will’s Instagram and wondered if you might be joining the boys in Mexico. And there you were! It would appear everyone had a thoroughly relaxing holiday as it should be. I’m sure Mavis is thrilled to bits to have you & Charlie home again. One day when you’re at loose ends(ha!) you should do a compilation of your gorgeous photos- I suspect they might even outsell your wonderful interior design books which are on my coffee table as I write this. Have a great week,Ben!


you just said you were going to mexico, you didn’t!!! say you were headed for san miguel de allende!!!! your english heart eyes see mexico as it is, not one wealthy light skinned tourist in any of your photos, dear ben. my culture starved heart is softened by the sights of the exquisite, overcrowded, unmaintained spanish colonial architecture and wondrous dirty colours.

thank you thank you thank you, dear ben and charlie for sharing your mexico.


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