22 September 2006

The Sanmiguelada

This Saturday, San Miguel de Allende hosts the 33rd-annual Sanmiguelada, its version of Spain's legendary Pamplonada, which, of course, features daring participants dressed in white, running through the streets with angry bulls. Needless to say, injuries are common - 47 last year - and tourists flock to San Miguel for the festivities, which, surprise, surprise, involve heavy drinking.

Many locals grumble about the influx of some 20,000 20-something Mexicans and foreigners. Numerous businesses plan on closing up shop tomorrow, preferring not to deal with drunk revelers, who don't spend money in coffee shops and boutiques and only are looking for the bathroom. (Portable toilets were finally installed for this year's event.) The municipal government, however, said the tourists spend at least $1.5 dollars over the weekend in hotels and bars and at the post-Sanmiguelada bull fight. (Normally, novice matadors fight in San Miguel, but not this weekend.) The taxes generated during the event subsidize other fiestas - including the patron saint holiday on Sept. 29.

To keep law and order, more than 150 police officers from other towns will help patrol San Miguel and the municipality imposed "Ley Seca" (dry law) that forbids retail liquor sales and public drinking - which apparently is allowed at other times.

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