San Miguel de Allende - Part I

The most iconic photo of the trip. 

The most iconic photo of the trip. 

Life happens, and before you know it it's the end of November, and your last post was at the end of August! Honestly, life has really gotten crazy the last couple of months. I took on some extra consulting work in addition to my full time job, and it turned my world upside down (in a good way!). It's been an incredibly rewarding experience, and I've learned so much in the process - but I've also been unable to focus as much on my own blog. I'm finally comfortable with the new workload and schedule, and have figured out a way to fit in my own life - what a concept, right?!

So that brings me to our recent travels.

A couple months ago, my friend Judy reached out inviting Chris and I on the trip of a lifetime, celebrating her birthday with her in San Miguel de Allende during Dia de Los Muertos. In case you're unfamiliar (as I was before we went), San Miguel is right in the center of Mexico, and is known for it's Dia de Los Muertos celebration. People come from all over the world to experience it - and thanks to Judy, we were able to experience it too. 

Day One:

The first part of the day was spent driving from Querétaro to San Miguel. Once we arrived at our incredible villa, we hit the town for a local dining experience. We ended up at a tiny little hole-in-the-wall spot, and ate food made by the sweetest locals. The ladies were making fresh masa for gorditas filled with chicharrónes, quesadillas with cheese from Oaxaca, flautas, chile rellenos, a horchata that was OUT OF THIS WORLD and more - it was incredible, and only cost $8 to feed Chris, myself and our friend Lorena. It was filling and delicious, and set the trip off on a great start. Later that night, we walked over to a local bar with a beautiful rooftop looking out at La Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel, the city's most recognizable landmark (pictured below). We went inside and enamored at it's glory...and then ate again. Elotes (street corn) and ice cream from street vendors. Finally, we all returned to the villa, turned on the fireplaces (YES that's plural) and went to bed. 

Casa de Rosalinda - a gallery of our villa
Probably my favorite part of our villa - these vintage African poufs. Drop me a line if you're interested in these...The Southern Influence is going retail in 2017! 

Probably my favorite part of our villa - these vintage African poufs. Drop me a line if you're interested in these...The Southern Influence is going retail in 2017! 

Our arrival to Casa de Rosalinda. Pictured from L to R: Carrie, Judy, myself

Our arrival to Casa de Rosalinda. Pictured from L to R: Carrie, Judy, myself

Coctel de maquillaje 

Coctel de maquillaje 

Parroquia de San Miguel 

Parroquia de San Miguel 

The view from our rooftop patio at Casa de Rosalinda 

The view from our rooftop patio at Casa de Rosalinda 

Days Two & Three

The days that followed on the trip were much like the first - walking, eating, wine tasting and shopping. One of the things I loved so much about San Miguel was how authentically Mexican it was, despite the almost 50% expat population. I always felt safe, loved the walkability of the entire city, and especially loved the breezy weather. The sweetest surprise was the level of hospitality offered to us everywhere we went. It's as if we had known some of the people we met our entire lives - it was unreal.

We spent our final full day in San Miguel in preparation for a truly authentic Dia de Los Muertos celebration -  and we did it all. We had our faces painted in an old apartment building tucked away on a cobblestone street, we watched wildly elaborate street parades pass by with 10-foot-tall Catrina puppets dancing to Mariachis, we celebrated the spirits returning at midnight in the central garden with the rest of the town - it was absolutely unforgettable. We topped off the night with a decadent over-the-top meal at the Rosewood hotel. Icing on the cake.

Shoutout to Judy - she has the purest heart, and most genuine soul. Judy planned the whole trip even though it was her birthday...it was a truly authentic experience - one we'll never forget - and we're so grateful for our friendship with her!

Pardon the cliche - but life is just too short. Through tragedy and grief, taking new jobs, moving cities and watching friends come and go - I've learned to just say "yes" when God provides. We got an email about this trip and said "yes" all in the same day. Fall is an intense time of year for me - I'm usually in the middle of planning the Trail of Lights with my incredible team, but they graciously gave me a few days to escape the chaos and travel out of the country. We needed it; time away to remember the natural beauty in the world - from the hills of Mexico to the handmade art and beautiful human spirits around every street corner. It was a reminder of the simplicity in life, a reason to take a step back and remember to have perspective and gratitude for everything with which God has blessed us. All I can say is when life hands you the opportunity to leave your comfort zone, to travel and adventure and renew your spirit - say yes.

Myself, Lorena & Chris having Helado de Fresas y Crema - probably my favorite street food of all time.

Myself, Lorena & Chris having Helado de Fresas y Crema - probably my favorite street food of all time.

Helado in the streets of San Miguel 

Helado in the streets of San Miguel 

Taking a rest at a boutique on Mesones  Top: Free People Jeans & Boots: Lucky Brand

Taking a rest at a boutique on Mesones 

Top: Free People

Jeans & Boots: Lucky Brand

Midday taco time in San Miguel

Midday taco time in San Miguel

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Wine tasting for over 3 hours during a rainstorm...good times had by all! 

Wine tasting for over 3 hours during a rainstorm...good times had by all! 

#ihavethisthingwithdoors Handbag: Kelly Wynne 

#ihavethisthingwithdoors

Handbag: Kelly Wynne 

On the cobblestone streets of San Miguel Fringe Boots: Free People  High-waisted jeans: Levi's (Anthropologie)

On the cobblestone streets of San Miguel

Fringe Boots: Free People 

High-waisted jeans: Levi's (Anthropologie)

One of my favorite photos from the entire trip. Chris captured the pure emotion of Dia de Los Muertos - the celebration of life and death. This sweet lady made my heart melt. 

One of my favorite photos from the entire trip. Chris captured the pure emotion of Dia de Los Muertos - the celebration of life and death. This sweet lady made my heart melt. 

Dia de los Muertos preparations. Flower crowns in full force. 

Dia de los Muertos preparations. Flower crowns in full force. 

chris-and-arielle-town-square-parroquia-the-southern-influence-blog-chris-olfers-photography
cobblestone-streets-the-southern-influence-blog-chris-olfers-photography
Dinner at the famous Rosewood Hotel

Dinner at the famous Rosewood Hotel

The whole group before heading out for Dia de Los Muertos festivities

The whole group before heading out for Dia de Los Muertos festivities

To experience the trip for yourself, check out Chris' 3-part vlog on the Mexico trip! 

Stay tuned for San Miguel Part II - - The dress shop next week. The most amazing, custom gowns I've ever seen in my life (and they let me play “dress up”!!) - excited to share the brand story with you!