los angeles, California
December 19, 2001
This is a great church, even if you don't really care much for visiting churches. The painted walls and ceilings are truly fantastic. Sadly it seems as though the church is being restored by artisans with painting ability but no training in restoration - which is to say they are repainting the place not restoring it.
The paintings as you enter the door are of crazy looking devils with words and poems wrapped around their heads. Part of the early 'restoration' involved painting over parts of the door, I can only hope they don't plan any more of that.
World Watch has adopted this church as one of the 100 most important historical buildings in the world and is supposed to be sending money for better trained restorers.
This is also a church of the penitents - across the square you can buy actual crowns of thorns (yes, very sharp) and flogging implements (or would that be instruments) - anyway - when I was a kid I remember driving along the main dirt road in Atotonilco and seeing some people crawling along the road flogging themselves but now I am told they keep everything private so I suppose you flog yourself behind the huge white walls. San Miguel also used to have penitents but the town decided it was bad for tourism so it is now cause for being arrested.
You probably won't want to walk to Atotonilco from San Miguel - I mean I suppose you could, it's only about 10 miles but not along a road I'd care to traverse on foot and not because there's a problem with the road - more so because there is no sidewalk and people drive kind of crazy. I've only travelled to Atotonilco by car. This visit I hired a driver for the day - but there is a bus if you like that sort of thing - that sort of thing meaning bouncing along dirt roads perched on metal bench seats that easily accomodate only those 5 feet 4 and under - as I am a great bit taller than that I find the local buses almost unbearable and prefer to save my pennies elsewhere.
Other than the church there's not much going on in Atotonilco, no restaurants or stores that I can think of. Go on market day (don't remember which day that is but someone can tell you) if you want to stay around for more than just the church.
From journal Day of the Dead in San Miguel De Allende