by Barbara Mauldin
Most everything in San Miguel de
Allende revolves around el Jardin, the town's central plaza. Hang out there long enough and you are bound to mn into most everyone you want to see. El Jardin is also the logical place to begin exploring the town, or embarking on El antiQuario 's San Miguel Walking Tour.
Though shops laden with antiques and curiosities are scattered throughout San Miguel, the stops on this edition of the Tour are some of the less conspicuous and most attractive collectors' stores in this small colonial city.
To get to our first stop, take Reloj one block north from el Jardin to Mesones and tum left. At Mesones #60 is San Miguel Arcangel, an antiques and metalworks shop where you are sure to find some treasured old artifacts among the recent additions to the store's shelves. Though San Miguel Arcangel can sometimes be the place to uncover that unique antique, the shop is renowned locally for its exquisite metal candelabra and lamps, all of which can be made to specification to take that special place in your home.
N ext we' re off to colonial arts specialists Antiguedades Bravo, a blockand-a-half further east along Mesones. After crossing Hidalgo and before arriving at the Hernandez Macias- Mesones intersection is the Hotel San Antonio, whose patio houses the antiques store we 're looking foro The proprietors of this colonial art emporium also do business in
Tlaxcala and ha ve a wide base from
where to draw their ever-changing
collection of pieces from colonial
Feel free to take your time to think over that important purchase atAntiguedades Bravo at the Blue Agave cafe-bar which shares the same patio, with its cozy atmosphere and wide selection of Mexico's official firewater, tequila.
After enjoying a cup of coffee or a shot of tequila, continue east along Mesones until you hit Hemandez Macias, where Bazar la Hormiga occupies an edifice
numbered 56 and 57 on this avenue. From the standard fare-sturdy wooden fumiture pieces, retablos and dolls- to molds for paper mache masks, table sets and all sorts of odds and ends, this "ants' bazaar" is certain to ha ve something for everyone's taste. Just make sure you allot some time to visit Bazar la Hormiga, as merchandise is stacked everywhere and needs some time to root through.
Continuing north along Hernandez Macias (away from the center oftown until arriving at Insurgentes) you come to a more mstic section of San Miguel where the haughtiness of the sometimes prissy downtown area is left behind. But amidst the fume-spewing city buses and the swarms of children dashing to and from schoollies Bazar Espada, the next stop on our Walking Tour.
Turn left on Insurgentes and trek eastward until your reach Bazar Espada in
building number 137-A. A few doors before arrival you will smell the tantalizing aromas coming from Espiga's, one of the most popular bakeries in town. If you're getting hungry take a break here. Even if you're not, picking up some pastries to
munch on later might be a good idea.
Once you pull yourself away from the
bakery and get to Bazar Espada, the shop 's proprietor, Manuel Mendez, willlikely be there to show you around. Though small, Bazar Espada is full of great antiques including brass bedsteads, tables and chairs, some of which look sturdy enough to be taken on a world tour.
After leaving the Bazar, continue along Insurgentes until you get to the avenue 's intersection with San Antonio Abad. Here, tum left and walk past San Miguel's government buildings and the San Juan de Dios church, whose traditional graveyard is worth a visit. There is also a school nearby, so be on the alert for the aftemoon's mad dash of students fleeing the premises.
The next intersection is Canal, here tum left. (We 're headed in the direction of the el Jardin once again, don't worry we're almost back to where we started.) Soon you will stumble upon Tienda AlIegro, Canal No. 90. This is the place to go for rustic musical instruments in San Miguel and the store's proprietor, Mercedes has an impressive collection of weird and unusual masks for sale at reasonable prices.
If not yet laden down with too much loot, continue heading uphill towards el J ardin and under the Quebrada overpass, a unique colonial bridge that spans Canal. Once you' ve reached the bridge the road levels out again, letting you breathe easier. The next block is Hemandez Macias and a quick right turn will bring you to Arte Antiguo, No. 83-B. This locale is loaded with old instruments, wardrobes, tables, brass candelabra and lamps. Among the most intriguing items in Arte Antiguo is a collection of antique hand-painted gourds which are strung across one wall.
Tired yet? Don 't worry because el Jardin, our starting point, is only one block further west once you backtrack from Arte Antiguo retuming to Canal. By now, it's a good idea to head back to the main plaza, catch up on the local gossip and show your friends all the stuff you picked up during the walking tour.