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  • Writer's picturecherylmurfin

Traveling How We Can

Updated: Apr 1, 2021

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

With long-distance travel still way off the on jet-streaked horizon, I've been returning in my mind — and through my 50,000+ photo hard drive — to some of my favorite roams. Today I poured myself a glass of velvety Casa Dragones tequila, sat back on the couch with my doe-eyed chihuahua, and took us on a trip to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

Never a dull door in San Miguel

As the Dragones burned a leggy road down my gullet, Posie and I wandered through San Miguel’s original town center, a brightly colored and cobblestoned fortification built in the16th century and now a World Heritage Site. We passed by the city’s hundreds of wildly colored doors and the often elaborate and colorful courtyards hidden behind them. We strolled through the Mercado San Juan de Dios farmers market, taking in the smell of more chilis than I have names for while gazing at unfamiliar sauces and snacks, an enormous variety of edible cactus, a wide-smiling grandmother selling Chinese-made plastic shopping bags, and several of Posie’s long-distance relatives. Then, mind-traveling miles out of town, we walked through the ruins of the Cañada de la Virgen archaeological site, where ancient rituals were once conducted by the Otomi atop the site’s formidable stone pyramid.

As the sun started its slow descent outside my apartment window here in Seattle, we hit the hills above San Miquel and made our way through the Charco Del Ingenio Jardin. Even from our yellow velvet couch, we could feel the red dirt trails beneath our feet, see sheep grazing under the trees, and, in Posie’s drool at the thought of chasing geckos sunbathing on garden rocks.

Casa Dragones. Seriously good tequila

Posie can sit curled up on a couch all day — that’s what chihuahuas do. But eventually my butt got tired from hours of sit-traveling. I slid the photo gallery off my lap, stood up, stretched, and looked out our real window into the gray cloud cover that is Seattle in March. The rain here holds for me an equal if different attraction. But my plane of recollection had not yet quite returned me from San Miguel, so I closed my eyes one last time. The deep warmth of a Mexico sun made my face glow. Or perhaps it was that final sip of tequila.

I’ll return to San Miguel once all this waiting to reconnect with the world is over. No question on that one. It’s got a world-renowned writer’s conference I’ve been itching to attend. In the meantime, I am glad to have saved all the photos, as well as this piece which I wrote after a Jardin visit in 2017.

Today in the Garden

Today colors rose up

From the ground

Alive, alive and breathing

Sunflowers by the thousands

Tangoing with the breeze

A yellow, so molten

It seemed the sun laid down

In the field

Across these blazing blooms

A flash of fire, a spark in the air

A blood red bird

A warbler I think

Spread her wings

In a sky the blue of Mary’s robe

And dotted with crisp white

Looney Tunes clouds

She flew like fireworks

Among sharp-tined cacti

They were the color of guacamole

With a pinch of paprika

And from their barbs

Striped-legged spiders

Wove a sticky silk

Into luminous veils

And waited so patiently for

The unfortunate bride

To happen by

Here the lichen

Laid itself across the rocks

In calico colors,

Not-quite turquoise,

Mustard yellow and pastel green

Spread out side-by-side

A painter’s palette

And the picture painted

At the same time

In the canyon below

Fatigue-green water

Made the white of egrets

And wide-winged cranes


More brilliant

As they rose

Like decision-made smoke

From the papal tower

All around, a harmony

Sung by grass-green crickets

Melding into green grass

And by stone-gray lizards

Disappearing before my eyes

Into the gray stones

And by the leaves shaking

In the wind

Maracas for the chorus

And then came the solos,

Muddy sheep bah-bahing under emerald trees

Ducks honking on a lake

Buzzing bees, bleating goats

And two chocolate brown colts

Neighing under the sun

With each step

In this garden

A spray of butterflies took flight,

Orange, yellow, white, black

Like a shower of confetti

Tossed in front of a hero

Like cloaks laid down

For a queen

To cushion and color

Her stroll

The book was wrong

We were not cast out

This is Eden

Nurtured and preserved

A cathedral still open

No apples in site.

~ Cheryl Murfin, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico 2017

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