La Puerta Roja Inn
Calle Galeana #46
Alamos, Sonora, Mexico
011-52-647-428-0142 phone from USA
Alamos is a national historic monument. It's a colonial city decorated with a Baroque cathedral, mansions and sprawling haciendas that have been lovingly restored from their original silver-booming days when 30,000 Mexicans filled the narrow cobbled streets. Today, with a population at only a third of that size, many of the residents are Americans who snatched up colonial mansions in the 1950s, when Mexicans vacated their homes ruined from silver-seeking rebels and Yaqui attacks leading up to the Mexican Revolution.
Overnight guests have a nice assortment of mid-range to top-end accommodations in former mansions, haciendas and even a jail, all located within walking distance of Plaza de Armas, the central square. Our first choice was the dungeon room and casita in Alamos' oldest building, the jail. But the American family running the La Ciudadela were either closed for business or the winter as emails went unanswered--not uncommon in a city half-filled with expatriates.
We chose to stay in the lovely La Puerta Roja Inn, a lovely, beautifully decorated hacienda owned by an American chef. She has a flair not only for cooking, but design. Each of the four guestrooms are uniquely decorated with Mexican tiles, antiques and funky art. The common room, a brilliant red, has an eclectic assortment of pottery, paintings, books, and sculptures.
But most guests, and the resident cat, lounge in the courtyard, an enchanted space filled with trailing flowers, gardens, fountains and colorful art. It is here that owner, Teri, serves breakfast, homemade scones, baked fruit and huevos rancheros, and her gourmet dinners on Wednesday nights. And tucked into a back corner is a pool framed by banana palms for privacy.
Teri's dog Bettie was the first to greet us on the front steps. She wagged her tail as we passed under the arched entrance and disappeared behind the metal gate. An American friend of Teri's ushered us in and gave us a tour. Scott's quarters in the Laundry Room, at the back of the courtyard, was surprisingly spacious with a separate sitting room, charmingly decorated. But our Pink Room couldn't be more fitting for our Valentine night stay.
A king-sized featherbed draped in mosquito netting took center stage against faded pink walls and carved shuttered doors. Mexican antiques, rugs, soft lighting and a bedside fireplace added romance to the pretty room. Even the adjacent bathroom was pretty, with handmade Hildago tiles and an open-design shower.
We spent the afternoon wandering around town, admiring the architecture of homes and elaborate markers in the cemetery. After dinner in the square, we hung around the Plaza de Armas where cowboys leaned against wrought iron fences, children played under a Moorish gazebo, and locals drifted in and out of the cathedral.. We couldn't find any guides to take us on ghost walks (guidebooks claim locals offer this nightly at the square) or any live music to listen to. For a happening place, it was rather sleepy.
We returned to our inn and conversed for awhile in the courtyard, before retiring to our rooms. Inside ours, someone had lit the little fireplace beside our bed. A fire crackled as we snuggled into flannel sheets on our featherbed. But sleep did not come easy.
The music we had searched for earlier in the central plaza was now starting, around midnight. And although they were several streets away, the Mexican mariachi band sounded a good deal closer. At first it was pleasant. Then the tubas and accordions became louder. Heavy handed oom-pahs lingered until the wee hours of morning, then finally subsided, the silence lingering just long enough to accentuate the loud cockadoodle doos from resident roosters announcing dawn at 4am. Dogs began howling in chorus, raising such a commotion that I sprang to the shutters to see what was the clatter. But the streets were dark, lifeless. I returned to bed, burying my head under the covers. Was I on Candid Camera? Because now a donkey was braying and a horse was clomping down our street.
Our room, on the apex of two converging streets, heard everything. And the 17 foot ceilings only magnified each sound. The next thing I heard was sweeping. And then a low voice greeting, "Buenos dias!"
My eyes flew open. Nobody there. I got up and peeked out the shutters. A man was sweeping our porch in the dark, calling out to locals in rumbling trucks or on horseback. Might as well stay up, I thought, it was almost daybreak. So I grabbed my journal.
David gradually stirred. How, I wanted to know did he sleep through all that?
"What, did you say?" he asked, removing plugs from his ears.
At breakfast, we joined Scott in the courtyard. He was spreading homemade marmalade on warm scones. "I slept great," he said. "How ‘bout you guys?"
I just glared. "Suppose you had a hot shower, too," I said.
"As a matter of fact, yes, I did," Scott said. "A never ending supply."
A cat jumped down from the fountain beside me. I smiled and shook my head, picturing my three-year-old daughter singing her silly song about "Bad luck, bad luck..." One of Teri's employees brought out our breakfast–sliced melon and huevos rancheros on vivid painted plates. It looked divine.
Had we stayed a second night no doubt my luck, and rest, would've improved. For one, live music was reserved for Sundays and holidays. I glanced around the flowered courtyard. The hacienda was so romantic, peaceful and appealing. I slowly sipped my coffee, ingesting false energy for the day, wishing I could stay to snooze on the cushy lounge chairs by the private pool.