The Doors of San Miguel
(San Miguel de Allende, Mexico)
When you travel in a foreign country, it’s always a surprise what the more striking differences are.
In San Miguel for me, it was the doors.
Here in the US, we are largely defined by our houses. And our houses are on view for the world to see.
Not so in San Miguel. They may be defined in some way by their houses, I don’t know. I was not there long enough to learn that sort of nuance. But what is clear from the first moment is that there is far more here than is on display for the public eye.
The streets are narrow, between tall walls. And the walls are full of doors. Plain doors, ornate doors, colorful doors, tall, short, wide and narrow doors. Dr. Seuss would have had a heyday, rhyming about the doors of San Miguel.
First thing in the morning, the doors are all closed. Then little by little some begin to open and you get to peer inside. Oh! An iron working shop next door to our house. A miniscule grocery store across the street. Things begin to be hung in the doorway so you can see what they hold.
By far, though, most remain closed. Gradually as you make friends and get to visit, you see that there is an amazing world behind these doors. What appears to be one more narrow space widens as you enter into a spacious home. Courtyards, tiled rooms filled with beautiful fabrics, old timbers, leather – or maybe very modern furniture and light.
From outside, you’d never know. It’s a continual, delightful surprise.
Space seems to expand, behind the doors. How does all this fit into the apparent space allowed behind this door? It’s a mystery. Kind of like the time in Mexico…it seems to expand to allow for everything that needs to happen.
In her wonderful book The Land of Little Rain Mary Austin wrote: “This is the sense of the desert hills, that there is space enough and time enough.” That is my take away from the doors of San Miguel. Behind those doors, and in fact throughout that wonderful place, there is space enough and time enough.
I felt that wonderful awareness sink into my bones, and I believe I was able to carry some of that home.
May we all know space enough and time enough.