My Colorado friends Steve & Donna Chase (L) and Amy & Barry Gordon (R) with Armando and Philamone, the donkey. The Gordons live in San Miguel 6 months of the year. Armando and Philamone are their next door neighbors.


On a windy Sunday morning during the pre-Lenten festivities, we had brunch at a roof-top restaurant.

This month New Orleans hosted its Mardi Gras and Rio de Janeiro, the world’s largest Carnival celebration. In San Miguel de Allende it’s Dia de Los Cascarones, the day of the cracked egg. While SMA’s crowd can’t rival the one million revelers of their South American neighbor, this city does a smashing job observing the five days leading up to Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent.

While exploring one day, I asked a store clerk for a lunch recommendation. “Go down 2 blocks to a little grocery store,” she said, pointing left. “Climb up to the third floor,” she continued. “They have the best pork belly sandwiches in San Miguel.” The Mom and Pop shop was nondescript with only 4-tables but the pork belly sandwich was the best I’d ever eaten (and, my first)!

A black cat crossing my path has never bothered me. Stepping on a crack breaks no one’s back. If you spill salt, look to avoid any targets before tossing more over your left shoulder. I may not be superstitious but I admit to strongly believing in Luck. So, if someone wants to crack an egg over my head in the name of good fortune, let’s do it.

During the festivities I met Donna for lunch at Nectar, a patio restaurant whose many hummingbird feeders attract our tiny flying friends. This Violet-crowned Hummingbird entertained us throughout lunch.

El Jardin (Plaza Principal) located directly across from the famed La Parroquia (church) is Ground Zero for the gaiety. The Centro Histórico is ablaze in color with mariachi bands staking out their corners. Vendors line the square, selling hand-made puppets, glitzy masks, outsized paper flowers, ice cream, churros and bags of cascarones. Mojigangas, giant costumed puppets from 6 to 18 feet tall, stroll and mingle with the crowd.

On most days I was treated to a lunch created by Cav & Blanca’s talented Senora Trini. Color me Spoiled.

What interested me most during the festivities was the cracked egg scene. Simply put, cascarones are washed chicken eggshells, brightly painted on the exterior, filled with confetti and closed again by small tissue squares glued over the opening. These handmade mini-piñatas are manufactured by local kitchen table entrepreneurs and sold on the streets in bags of 5, 10, 20 and 40. (I went big, buying 40 for 50 pesos.)

Since no one at the El Jardin had cracked an egg over my head, bringing me good fortune and luck in the year ahead, I bought my own stash of 40 eggs. Senora Trini helped me place the eggs strategically in a gorgeous bowl in O’Leary’s dining room.

Every child, teen and even Moms/Dads tote their own personal cache to toss or crush over an unsuspecting head, producing a confetti shower and bringing good luck to the victim. For these 5 days, SMA’s historic cobblestones are a rainbow of colored confetti.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I finally cracked an egg over my own head. Good Fortune reigns. I cracked another open to show you.

EL CHARO del INGENIO jardin botanico

When Donna and I were waiting to begin our nature tour at El Charo, Bob Turner (middle) helped me identify a worm-eating warbler (who knew?). From the small world department… Bob Turner lived in Boulder, Colorado and was the western states’ field director for the National Audubon Society. He assisted Aspen’s renown birder Linda Vidal and other locals in establishing our Roaring Fork Audubon group.

As I mentioned last week, El Charo del Ingenio, located near Casa O’Leary where I am staying, is an outstanding 217-acre botanical garden and nature preserve surrounded by an Ecological Preservation Zone. Besides hiking its many trails, last week Donna and Steve Chase and I took a morning tour to learn about its vast botanical collection of cacti and other Mexican plants many of which are rare, threatened or in danger of extinction due to development.

White-faced Ibis

Canyon Wren

Tropical Kingbird

Donna and I, who are volunteer Rangers in Aspen, enjoyed learning about new plants and birds.

My last night together with the Chases before they returned to Colorado. We had cocktails on the roof of their apartment before doing to dinner.


Valentine’s Dinner, Casa O’Leary

Dinner with friends, many who came for San Miguel’s Writers Conference, from Canada, Austria, the USA and Mexico.

I was able to snag Floridian Tim Wheat (R) to be my Valentine. Canadians Tony and Joan Eyton sit nearby. Mr. Eyton, my dinner partner, was the Ambassador to Brazil and served as the Senior International Trade Advisor for the Canadian government. During his long and varied career he was posted throughout the world so our dinner conversation was quite interesting.

Señora Trini made a delicious Valentine chocolate cake for our evening’s dessert.


  1. Donna Grauer says

    I love this travelogue . What a wonderful time with all the necessary ingredients for enjoyment, learning and inspiration. the canyon wren pix was striking . Cracked eggs… what fun.
    But please tell Blanca her doorway appears to
    Go to heaven!

  2. Charlotte McLain says

    What a life you are living in SM! Someone must have cracked eggs over your head a long time ago. You and Donna look like beautiful tropical birds standing in front of that cactus. I am amazed by the abundance of color everywhere. It makes our country look dull by comparison. It must lift your spirits to new heights.
    We look forward to the next episode from you.

  3. colleen bowsky says

    Beautiful photos Mary…just returned from Baja Sur, LaPaz n Cabo. Loved the wonderful feeling of all your pics…so many memories ❤️

  4. says

    I love your travel posts—you are having so much fun! I think I could squeeze in your suitcase for your next adventure—just sayin’!

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