Sweet Sonora Surprises
By Laura Arden
I'm pretty sure the words I said most often on a recent trip to Sonora were, "WOW, really??" There are surprises at every turn for the new visitor and reasons to come back again and again for the initiated. In Alamos the warmth and joy of the people, the authenticity of the cobblestoned Colonial town and, the sparkly star of the show, luxury boutique hotel Hacienda de Los Santos, won my heart on impact.
In San Carlos the dramatic setting of volcanic peaks crashing into clear blue sea drew me in to explore by boat and what I discovered was simply stunning. Once again, I was surprised and delighted. And who would have guessed that in the modest town of Hermosillo would be an art museum so wonderful I'd want to go back just to see what its passionate director has up his sleeve next? Again, wow, wow, wow.
Surprising places are just so darn much fun when you had no idea they would hold so many treasures to discover. I don't want to ruin the surprises for you, but, really...you must know, Sonora offers some very enticing treats and is eager to welcome you with warm Sonoran "abrazos" (hugs).
The Warmth of Alamos and the People
Often described as a smaller and quieter version of San Miguel de Allende before it got crowded, Alamos is a Colonial gem of a Mexican pueblo. Snuggled into the southernmost corner of the state of Sonora in the foothills of the Western Sierra Madre, Alamos exudes a certain grace that can only come from a history of wealth and culture somewhere down the line. Silver and copper mines were big business in Alamos back in the day which left their mark in terms of money flowing through its history. The village was designed by conquering Spaniards to resemble Andalusia and has the classic feel of a storybook Mexico village. The pueblo itself is a Mexican Historical Monument and is up for consideration as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Coming into town via narrow streets of cobblestones sets the stage for what lies ahead. The town square has a small park at its center with a classic cathedral beside it. The small and very walkable village holds exactly what you would hope...iron gates stuck improbably into adobe walled compounds to peer through which reveal private gardens and worlds of seductive charm within, street vendors selling yummy treats, happy kids bopping around, super friendly people at every turn, a few special restaurants to linger in and a hotel you never want to leave and feel lucky to have found.
Alamos seems to be blessed with happy people. Warm welcomes everywhere you go, happy kids of all ages running around, a certain joie de vivre that is simply unmistakable.1 of 9