“Buenos Días!” I heard a female voice call out from somewhere in the lush jungle of plants inside. I wandered my way through to the counter. On the flight down, I had noticed my teabag read ‘té negro’ so I felt confident I could order in Spanish. I then engaged in some of the world’s most embarrassing Spanglish imaginable.
“Hola!” I said, “té negro please, but iced, not caliente!”
The woman laughed. “So you want ice tea.”
I was proving to be a completely oblivious American abroad. I should have expected that many people in San Miguel would speak at least some English. The town has been an expat hotspot for decades. After the art school opened, a foreign language school soon followed. Many Americans, including military vets on the GI Bill, attended classes here for college
credit, initiating San Miguel’s robust American community.
As I drank my tea, I looked around and admired the beautiful murals of lush foliage covering the walls. In fact, one of the painted trees even came off the wall and was painted down the side of the café’s fridge.
I noticed the barista pouring something into a slushie machine. I asked her what it was, and she told me it was their homemade frappuccino. “We use Mexican coffee beans straight from Chiapas, local milk, and unrefined cane sugar. It’s our specialty, would you like to try?”
She poured me a small cup and it was heaven—icy cold, sweet, and bold. As someone who doesn’t even like coffee drinks, I have to admit, this was phenomenal. I noticed it was getting close to noon, so it was time to meet my group for lunch.
I arrived at Maria Xoconostle (Cuna de Allende 7, Centro, Tel: +52-415-152-2590. www.mariaxoconostle.mx), a delicious restaurant whose name I can’t pronounce. As I entered the beautiful courtyard, I could hear a flock of Americans, and figured this must be my group. I walked over and introduced myself to everyone and met the members of the San Miguel de Allende Tourism Office who would be our guides. I was starving, and immediately opened my menu. The first dish I saw was fried grasshoppers with guacamole, and I knew I had to try it. At that point I was hungry enough to eat anything, and besides, when in Rome, right?
“If you want to try that, they also have escamoles.” Our guide said. “What’s escamoles?” I asked. “Ant eggs.” He replied. “Very delicious. They’re a delicacy here.” Suddenly “When in Rome” didn’t sound like a fun saying anymore. But, I fully believe in stepping outside your comfort zone when traveling. So it seemed as though ant eggs and grasshoppers would
be my first meal in San Miguel…and what a delicious lunch they were!