Monday, April 15, 2013

Sunday San Miguel de Allende House Tour


Today Doug, Nancy, Renate and I went on the almost weekly house and garden  tour in San Miguel de
Allende; all ticket sales go to the improvement of La Biblioteca (Bilingual Public Library) here in the city.  We paid $200 pesos each for the 2 and a half hour tour.  About 75 people rode on three Mercedes Benz buses to the first tour destination, Rancho Mi Sueño (My Dream Ranch) outside SMdA at the turnoff for Atotonilco, owned by an American, Chuck Collerain, from Houston.  He is considered Mexico's only American Charro  (rodeo horseman).  He comes across as a 'larger than life' sort of personality and has owned the property, that also sports a replica of the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, for about ten years.

When we arrived at the rancho, Chuck, with a young Mexican woman on his arm (wife, girlfriend, prop?), greeted everybody outside the front door.  After touring the entire house we were served tequila in little ceramic mugs in the grand entry area of the house; each tour participant was given the mug as a memento of the visit.  Before leaving several of us were able to chat with Chuck; and he was more than willing to share some of the interests of his life.  He does actually look the part of the Mexican cowboy and has a big personality to go with his appearance.   As we toured throughout the house it became evident that he is a Texas A and M supporter - perhaps his alma mater?  One certificate eluded to his generosity in scholarships provided for students of that University.  He supposedly told others, this is 2nd hand information, that he "worked in the oil business" in Texas; although he now lives most of the time in Mexico.

He shared that the actual construction of this very impressive home cost in the neighborhood of $300K when he built it 3 years ago.

 Walking up to the entrance - this is Mexican desert country

 First view of interior - 35 foot arched ceilings - all hand stonework

 One of the Master bedrooms

 Just a visual tease off the reception area.  chuck has so many treasures from his travels the World over - Asia, Africa, Europe - he's such a collector of arts and crafts

 View of entry area and bar from stairway to upper floor.  That's Chuck in the sombrero

 This is the urinal in the guest bathroom off the living and dining area of the house

 The ceilings are at least as impressive as all other architectural effects

 Dining table seats 12 - each chair has a saint hand-painted on the back - the closest in the photo is my favorite, St. Francis of Assisi - patron saint of animals

 Dining chairs on the opposite side of the dining table - 2nd from left is Our Lady of Guadalupe

 The bar - see the holster with the initials "NB"- Chuck explained that NB stands for Nuestros Bendicios, Our Blessings - I didn't quite understand the significance - it is a trade mark that he purchased and uses all over the house and corrals, etc.

 This is the toilet bowl in the guest bath - the sink was much the same ceramic as this bowl

 The living room - dining area is to the right in this photo.  Notice the dog bed; there's a dog bed in every room of the house.  A rather chubby, friendly chihuahua scampered around and quietly greeted all visitors
 Here he is - he really is bigger than life.  The lady didn't say a word the whole time we were there.  That's why I said she could be a prop.  There was a lovely closet for a woman but only a couple of pieces of clothing there!

 The TV room - leather couches facing the TV and many artifacts from all over the World

 Along one side of the living room, a photograph of a VIP (very important pet) and a shrine with an urn

 Closeup of magnificent rock walls in various locations of the house

 Minimal landscaping in the front "yard"

 A wall fountain at the interior end of the entry area

 Chuck's pick up parked in the carport identifying him as a member of a team of charros - Charro del Santuario de Atotonilco - e's the only Gringo member - there are lots of action photos of Chuck performing/riding in rodeos throughout the house

 The threshold of the front door

Last photo of Mi Sueño

The second house we isited was in the historical center of SMdA ..... Casa Tortuga.  It's a XVI Century house that was originally two homes - now converted into one house with many gardens, patios, roof decks and fountains.  It has towering ceilings, thick walls, bay windows, the original floors and ancient beamed ceilings.  At this point in time it is rental property - the entire house with eight master bedrooms and staff of housekeepers, butler and gardeners rents for $28K / month.  Think it over.  That's actually not really exorbitant - 16 people >> $1,750 per person for a month!

What I loved about this house wasn't so much the antiquity aspect; but the magnificently beautiful outdoor areas.  Lush, thriving, gigantic and colorful vines, bushes, trees and flowers.  It reminded me of strolling through a Spanish botanical park.

Like so many residences in Spain and Colonial cities of Mexico,Central and South America - the exterior belies the wonders inside ......

 Just another plain cement /stone wall on a cobblestone street

There are even a few 'windows' facing the street

Just inside the front door is this gate leading to "La Fuete de las Tortugas"  - The garden and fountain of the turtles - there are about four or five large turtles and several large coy frolicking in the fountain pool
The address on the outside of the building

Only one of the many gardens

One of the many bedrooms - eight I think

Magnificent tile work in bathrooms and throughout this VXI century house.  Most of the decor and art work is from the early 18th century - before and during the Mexican-Spanish Revolution

One of the original bath tubs

These areas are called "los corridores" - they are actually living areas out of doors - facing courtyards and gardens, cooled by the thick walls of the house.  They often, as here, have incredibly healthy and beautiful [what we call] indoor plants, giant size.  This one travels the full length of this corridor, about 60 feet or more
Living room

Another garden. Notice sculptures and statuary - usually with a religious theme

Closer look at above shrine area

The "back yard" and patio with stairs leading to roof gardens.  The area to the right leads to the following photo:

A lovely swimming pool and sun deck.  Pools had no system of chlorination, etc.  So, normally pools were filled in the morning and emptied and cleaned in the evening.  What a job!  But it doesn't take long to heat a pool if it's located in a fully sunny spot

This is a statue / shrine area at the side of the pool.  I didn't check to find out who the statue represents but could guess that it might be one of the Mexican heroes of the Revolution - perhaps Ignacio Allende, for whom San Miguel de Allende is named

One of two sculpted urns flanking steps leading to another patio-garden area

A modern, Oaxacan style touch in the kitchen.  The state of Oaxaca, Mexico is world famous for its carved and painted wooden animals, called "los alebrijes"

Several different levels of roof gardens

Beauganvilla, cypress, roses, Gerber daisies, jasmine, cactus, orchids ...

La Parroquia as viewed from one roof garden

Back through the kitchen and its alebrijes

The tile work is original but the kitchen is certainly modernized

I loved these planters with all kinds of greens, bromiliads, flowering plants, sedum ...
The dining room

And here, a cobblestone patio - garden

I didn't notice until late in the tour that each bedroom has a name.  This is "La Ventana" - the window

Another bedroom; I'm not sure if I actually got a photo of every one

Almost every bedroom, actually almost every room, has a fireplace.  I can't imagine that they'd be needed very much but they are very attractive never-the-less

Nancy and Doug may have been deciding what color towels to put in this bathroom!

Tile work in the same colorful bathroom

And more tile!

Renate taking yet another photo of yet another bedroom

Another bath room with its original tub

This is what Renate was photographing a couple of pix ago

The crucifix was nestled in a little niche in a hallway

Here's when I found out each bedroom has a name - it's posted to the left of each entry to that particular room

Several of the bedrooms also have a sitting area within - morning coffee, nighttime tea and cookies?

This little fellow just really wanted to exit his pool to say "Welcome to my home"

This house, I understand, is a rental property.  It comes with 3 housekeepers, a cook and 2 gardeners - all for $28,000 [dollars, not pesos] a month.  But, wait; it has eight bedrooms so that would be $1,750 per person per month.  That's really not that expensive given all the household help and cooking - and food is inexpensive here!  Let's sign up for next Winter Season!


  1. That was a great day, wasn't it? It was also made more enjoyable spending it with you & Renate!!

  2. Thank you for such a beautiful tour. Love your blog.

  3. Thanks Kathie. I still need to label the photos of the second house toured. Today is a travel day - I'm on my way north through the interior of Mexico. Now in Matehuala in the state of Nuevo Leon. Will probably get to the US on saturday or Sunday but will do post more on the blog while I'm here for two days with good Internet access. I'd love constructive criticism if you have any.