I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.

Happy New Year! I have moved up from the warmth of the sunny beach to the cool high desert nights of San Miguel de Allende, a place that feels like a “winter home.” I’ve lost track of how many New Years Eves I have spent in San Miguel, but I am pretty sure I am nearing the double digits, if not there already. It feels good to be back again, after having missed the last two holiday seasons, 2019 due to my Sudan/Ethiopia trip, and 2020 due to…well…you know.

In addition to the beautiful spring-like weather in San Miguel, one of my favorite traditions is the New Years Eve celebration in the Jardin, the main tree-filled square. It’s the only place in my life I have ever gotten to experience a fireworks show so close that it feels like the plumes are raining down overhead.

I remember vividly my first time to experience the fireworks in San Miguel. Eagerly anticipating the stroke of midnight, the air was electric as the bells from the Parroquia, the giant pink Disneyland-like church marking the center of the historic center, began their deafening peal across the town square. This was my first New Years Eve outside the USA, so once the clock finished its twelve strokes of midnight, I was eagerly anticipating “Auld Lang Syne” to begin playing. Instead, what came out of the giant speakers was Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.” Really? On New Years? Well, just go with it, I thought. And like so many ways that the best memories are made when unexpected things happen, I will always remember that song now at the stroke of midnight. “I don’t want to close my eyes, I don’t want to fall asleep…”

I was torn on what to do about the celebration in the Jardin last night. With all the warnings of the Evil Omicron, I had allowed a little fear to creep in. But I have been boosted. And San Miguel is almost militant about their COVID restrictions, more so than any place I have been during the pandemic. Twice now, I have seen people called out by staff for not wearing a mask while waiting in line to be seated. Every shop or restaurant has an annoying young person stationed at the front door armed with a digital thermometer aimed at your forehead in one hand, and a bottle of sanitizer ready to squirt you like the perfume counter at Macy’s in the other!

However the crowds at midnight would be different. No one to police the mask compliance, and no bottles of hand sanitizer at the ready. But the thought of missing one of my favorite events due to an ongoing case of fear that has persisted for going on two years now didn’t set well either. I just kept thinking of the song, running through my head from that first experience in the Jardin, standing beneath the fireworks, plumes of colorful light bursting overhead to the lyrics, “I don’t want to miss a thing.” So I decided I would wear the snugger fitting KN95 mask. And I would only go as far as the edge of the crowd, not into it. Sorta like the metaphor which seems fitting for the past two years.

The crowds were lighter than usual, with the greatest concentration of people being around the sound stage, a place I didn’t care to go anyway. I was able to stay outside the perimeter of the Jardin, maintaining my distance, and only removing my mask long enough to pop the traditional 12 grapes into my mouth. Tradition, superstition, resolution, whatever you want to call it, I’ll try anything in attempt to ward off another run through the Greek alphabet of variants!

I wish the best for everyone in the coming year. We are well overdue for a good one. Here’s to hoping you “don’t miss a thing!”

Here are a few scenes around town during this 2021 season. Meanwhile, if you want to experience nine solid minutes of my amateur videography taken of the fireworks bursting in air over San Miguel’s Parroquia, the church and most famous landmark, click HERE.)

Always look up in San Miguel. The rooftops are always lovely.

This visit, I am staying in Colonia Guadalupe, where a project is underway to paint murals on the walls.

Not only painted murals, but some pretty elaborate tile work also.

This young man is chipping shades of black, white, and gray tiles to create this mosaic, with only a few lines traced on the wall. It was fascinating watching him work.

Many of the murals are meant to depict scenes representative of life in Mexico.

Some of the older murals are getting a face lift. Here is the “Before.” (Photo, compliments of Don Anthony.)

Here is the “After.” Quite a good cosmetic surgeon, no?

The town always looks so festive during the holidays. The giant tree next to the Parroquia is covered in so many lights!

Lots of life-sized nativity scenes around.

This year brings a new decoration….brightly colored posters notifying of the mask mandate, even outdoors. The Mexican people are so polite and compliant.

Lots of restaurants have fancy New Years Eve dinners.

While the smaller neighborhood churches don’t usually decorate much, they are still beautiful fully lit at night.

This church in the nearby neighborhood of San Antonio is preparing an “Alfombra” or sawdust carpet to be displayed on New Years Eve. This is the preparation earlier in the day.

This is the finished Alfombra, a carpet made up of fine particles of colored sawdust to depict scenes of Saints.

Mexico, as well as Spain and other Latin American countries, practice the tradition of eating 12 grapes at each clang of the bell at midnight. It is believed that sweet grapes bring good fortune in one’s life. Stands of grapes pop up around town on New Years Eve.

Fireworks exploding over the beautiful Parroquia.

I started filming a video at about 3 minutes in, so the show went on for over 10 minutes.

Giant sparklers always play a part in the festivities at midnight.

The giant sound stage, far in the distance. Keep clear if you value your ears!

Feliz Año Nuevo from San Miguel de Allende!

12 thoughts on “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.

  1. That’s quite the fireworks display!! Certainly more excitement than Ed & I have had on any New Years Eve in years (by choice admittedly)! I know it’s a favorite haunt of yours so glad your enjoying it again.

  2. Happy New Year Suzanne, thanks for sharing the New Year’s celebration with us. Wishing you a safe and adventurous year.

  3. My grandmother lived in San Miguel in the late 60’s early 70’s. In fact that first photo could have been her place. (She once parked under one of those roof-drains and boy did her car stink of mold and wet socks after that!) It continues to look like some things haven’t changed since our visits there, like the carefully pruned trees around the square.

    • Yes, Greg, thankfully some things here haven’t changed. But the prices certainly have! Pity your grandmother didn’t hang on to that house in Centro. It would be worth quite a lot these days. If you remember the address, let me know and I will search it out and send back a photo.

      • I’d love that, but unfortunately I was too much a teenager to care at the time and it turns out my parents were NOT good international travelers so that was not an especially enjoyable part of their lives and when I checked with her just now my Mom didn’t have any papers from that time or recollection of the address. Not even any photos – and this is a woman with a bookshelf full of photo albums that us kids have no idea what we’re going to do with!

        As best I can remember, (To the horror of my parents, Grandma once gave me her car-keys so I could drive my siblings out to the hot-springs and I had to know how to get back!) when standing in the main square, or at least what I perceived to be the main square at the time, (the one where the young people circled, girls in one direction and boys in the other in the evenings while the vecinos chaperoned from the center and chatted, and last-night’s jailed drunks swept up before being allowed to go on their way in the morning.) and facing the church, she lived down the street on the right side of the church.

        To me her place was magical. You walked in off the street through the huge wooden doors, traversed a short ‘tunnel’ between a room on either side, and straight into an open-air tropical courtyard ringed by rooms that opened up directly onto it.

        Grandma always lived bright and large, which is probably why she finished her years living in a single-wide in a mobile home park not too far from my parents home in Michigan

  4. I can see why you return each year for New Years. The town looks so beautiful in your photos. What amazing artists. The murals are great but the tile/mosaic work is spectacular. The Alfombria must have been amazing in person. So much time to create. Wishing you a Happy, Healthy New Year where ever 2022 takes you with me following!

  5. I just found 3 of your posts in my spam folder so that’s why I’m late. What a beautiful city and I always look forward to your yearly NYE post from there. You ate the 12 grapes for good luck, but did you have any black-eyed peas?

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