By Natalie Taylor
In 1995, after reading about San Miguel de Allende, Stan Levenson told his wife Carole that they ought to try vacationing there. She wouldn’t hear of it. “We live in a small town in the Catskills in New York,” she said, “why would we want to go to a small mountain town in Mexico?” But a few months later they were at a fair and were attracted to a large placard printed with: San Miguel de Allende.
A man was selling papier mache fruits and they bought some. Then the man said: “Señora, you should go there, you will love it.” Intrigued, Carole agreed to come to the city and they made their first winter visit. On their drive into San Miguel, which was deserted because it was Sunday, Carole was wary. “Where did you take me?” she asked Stan. The taxi driver overheard her and chimed in: “Señora, wait, you will love it!” After checking into their hotel they walked down to Centro and as they stood in the plaza before the Jardin, they were transformed. They saw children noisily running around, mariachis playing lively music, people of all ages joyfully walking about, old women gossiping, young people flirting.
They took it all in—the smells and sights, fresh fruits sold in a cup, ice cream in flavors they had never heard of, hot tamales, cold drinks, the sombrero man with stacks of hats piled high on his head, fresh and dried flowers everywhere. It was as if they had stepped back in time to a land of make-believe, and yet it was all real. They felt as if someone had sprinkled magic dust on them. Their other beach vacation had been fun, but this was genuine, unfeigned. Walking back to their hotel Stan turned back and took in the whole scene again, “This is my Camelot,” he said. “I want to live here someday.”
Thus began their annual visits to the city, staying longer and longer each time, sometimes coming more than once a year. One day they realized that it made more sense to live here and visit the US, than the reverse. After visiting for 25 years, they sold their properties in the US and moved here in 2017. Stan is retired and has now indulged an old passion—stained glass art. In his studio he creates amazing works of art on glass that incorporate old techniques with modern designs. Many of his works are inspired by the paintings of Toller Cranston, a man whose works he admires and who became a personal friend to them. Carole has been busy with gardening and decorating their home.
With what they have learned about San Miguel through their many years of visits, and now living here full time, both Stan and Carole say unequivocally that the advice they heard so long ago is true. Both of them affirm: “Señor, you were right. We love it!”
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