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Thursday, November 14, 2002

La Casa del Gallo

If my stay here seems to lack much in the way of adventure and discovery I can blame it all on this house here in San Miguel. I never want to leave this place--ever. We are the lucky tenants for the week in a splendidly restored Mexican colonial town home called La Casa del Gallo because of the rooster that until recently occupied the back garden. Repeated crowing at 3 a.m. forced the owners to relocate the rooster. Reports are that he tasted like chicken. Vaya con dios, Señor Gallo

From the street the house in unbelievably unassuming, like all of the other homes in the town. A heavy wooden door and one barred window are all that face the narrow cobblestone Calle de los Chiquitos. The door opens to a long arcade with five arches that serves as a hallway between the rooms. The arcade runs along one side of the house all the way to the garden in the back. An open-air patio, filled with potted plants and a fountain, sits in the middle of the arcade. The living room, kitchen, and three bedrooms face into the arcade and patio.

This style of architecture takes excellent advantage to the comfortable climate here. Outdoors is where most of the living is done in these homes. There is a walled-in backyard that is home to one of the tallest palm trees in the city. In addition to the patio in the back yard there is another on the roof overlooking the city and the plains below San Miguel.

I don’t know when the house was built but if I had to guess I would say that it was during the lifetime of Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)—over three hundred years ago. This style of home goes back at least as far as the Roman times when walled homes were built around a courtyard. The ‘your home is your castle’ school of architecture was common throughout the Mediterranean world and was easily adapted for the Spanish colonies in America.

The kitchen has a four-burner gas range vented by a chimney that runs along the back wall. Several skylights brighten up this room and the adjoining pantry. We have spent a lot of out time in this room, cooking eating, and hanging out listening to the bootleg CD’s of Mexican Ranchera music we picked up in the markets.
There is a formal dining room with an adjoining living area two steps below. We have set up the dining room table as out office. My nephew’s laptop computer and my huge road map of Mexico cover the table. I find the Hallwag maps to be excellent driving companions and I have one for almost every country in Europe. I highly recommend this map if you are venturing south of the border in an automobile or even if you are taking the buses.

I have made it out of the house. We made a road trip yesterday to the beautiful and cosmopolitan city of Guanajuato. More on that later.

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