San Miguel is shaped like a pasta bowl with its low wide valley and hills sloping up around the sides. I'm down in the base; from my terrace on the second floor I can see 180 degrees around me: centro, with its church spires and the grand dome of the old convent, is to the north, in front of me. To the left is my immediate neighbor: Colonia San Antonio, a mix of Mexican families and American artists. Beyond that, on the western edge of the bowl are the less developed colonias of Independencia, San Rafael, and Guadalupe and farther out the unnamed fraccionamientos of colorless, one-story, unfinished cinderblock homes, rebar poles still rising from the roof. (As long as a building is under construction, no tax is due. Thus, a huge concentration of half-built houses.)
At dawn, and earlier, the hillside to the west is lit up across its wide swath. Every household is awake, with lights blazing, and I'm sure, televisions on, fires lit, tortillas on the comal, beans in a battered pan on a makeshift stove. In these neighborhoods are all the domestics who work in the houses in San Miguel for the ex-pats and wealthy Mexicans, and in the restaurants, businesses, shops and banks. And their day starts early, when the bus can take an hour to make its away through all the barrios, picking up the women to bring them to town.
On the east side all is quiet. Up on the high hill are the neighbhorhoods of Balcones, Atascadero and Ojo de Agua, with their million-dollar views at night over the valley, and the sunsets that fall down over San Miguel every night with an awed hush. Here on the eastern slope are houses with five bedrooms and seven baths, infinity-edge pools, and walls of glass that separate the gorgeous colonial living rooms with boveda ceilings from the long terraces with their beautiful iron patio furniture.
In the morning, all is dark on the eastern slope, the slumber of the haves still undisturbed and ongoing.