SAN MIGEUL ALLENDE NOT MOTORCYCLE FRIENDLY
In the past two winters I’ve ridden 16,000 miles in Mexico on my motorcycle and it’s been a wonderful experience. I’ve been treated so graciously and have been accommodated in parking and security for my transportation by hotels and well as local police no matter what town I visited. Not so in San Miguel Allende.
The city is indeed beautiful and I hate to dissuade visitors but motorcyclists need to know what to expect.
On a Monday morning in February I had an abscessed tooth extracted in the morning. With meds I slept till 3 p.m. and then jumped on my bike to search for my first meal of the day. Despite the designated motorcycle parking I had been parking for two days across the street from my hotel so it could be watched by the front desk. Typically you’re allowed to park on the sidewalk, in the lobby or courtyard or wherever your bike can be secured. San Miguel, as an old colonial city has tight parking and streets hence that’s where I HAD to park.
Seeing a sign reading “Chicken Consomme’ I knew I had found lunch. As I parked diagonally in front of the restaurant there was space in front of my bike to park a limo. A black Volvo pulled up as I was entering the restaurant and a woman opened her door and started yelling, “You have to park that down there! You can’t park that there, move that right now!!!” I wasn’t even sure if she was yelling at me or not and on meds and in pain I really didn’t care. No problem observed.
Greeting the friendly waiter I told him why I needed the consommé and in typical Mexican hospitality sought me a seat and stated the soup was exceptional. At that moment the large woman stormed through the door yelling at the top of her lungs about the motorcycle having to be moved and closed stating that SHE WAS GOING TO KNOCK MY MOTORCYCLE OVER WITH HER VOLVO. The waiter, who could see where the bike was parked, looked at me incredulously. I did the same. Yes, we had a nutball yankee matron on our hands. Apparently a gringa transplant, it is sad to see such behavior inflicted by Americano’s as visitors to Mexico. This is behavior that you would never see from a Mexican and is exactly why I enjoy riding in Mexico as opposed to the United States. I responded to her, thinking “I don’t need this hassle now”, stating that I didn’t know who she was and that I didn’t let people talk to me like that and turned on my heel to my table. She exited still howling and I sat, staring at my parked motorcycle. She did, in fact, back into the front tire. The bike rocked and nearly went over but she then backed off and parked and left. If she only knew how close she came All I could think about was a long stint in a Mexican prison. That is the ONLY thing that saved her bacon. The soup was excellent but hard to enjoy as my hands shook.
I parked across the street from my hotel after lunch and retired for the day. Meds made me sleep in and just after rising the housekeeper frantically knocked on my door stating there was a problem with my motorcycle. Great. Hitting the street I see a local cop writing and one of those common street guys that park and polish cars lounging on my motorcycle and a car, belonging to Saul Garcia of HSBC Bank, parked so close to my bike that I couldn’t even bring it upright or get it out. In other words the car monkey had intentionally parked this car close enough to trap me and then he went to a cop to complain about my parking choice. In other words I was encroaching on his turf. One thing I know is where I won’t be getting a bank loan for the property I’m going to buy in Mexico.
At this point I was getting quite fed up with being hassled about my bike and my bike being hassled. It was all unnecessary . First, I told the monkey to get off my bike and to never touch it. Then he started blabbin and I told him to shut up and that this was between me and the cop. The hotel owner came out, mortified, and backed my need to park there for security and for that matter the ticket he was writing could be scraped and I could just move the bike. Nope. Paper had to be written, my plates were confiscated and I had to pay $9 to get them back. So, I did. Returning, Saul’s car was still jammed up against the bike but, by god, I was going to move it. Well Saul, if you’re wondering where those dents came from on the right side, now you know. No apologies.
I parked a block away in the designated area that night and waited till the morning to see if I’d be using my theft insurance. Commonly if you’re get shook down you’re also set up and wondered if the cop and the monkey had plans for my bike. Other colonial cities like Queraterro had very professional and tourist friendly police unlike San Miguel.
To load my saddlebags and gear I moved the bike across the street from the hotel. Two spots away was a Ducati, the local owner of which I had met the day before and was a right gentleman, parked in the exact same spot I was the day before and was being detailed by who else, the monkey. The message was clear.
As I rode away I gave that guy and friendly parting gesture and said goodbye to San Miguel Allende.
So that’s all folks. Motorcyclists, there’s plenty of wonderful places to go in Mexico but it’s good to make a list of ‘where’ and ‘where not to’. For San Miguel’s sake I hope they can clean up the street hustling and don’t get too californicated, otherwise the charm will be lost.