San Miguel de Allende is often called Mexico Lite or a Starter City for any first time visit to Mexico.

The comment is usually made by a Gonzo Tourist who see travelling and travelers as a spectrum or a progression and themselves as the Everest of  Travelers.  They are the equivalent of the Religious Right or those Leftists (socialist in the US) who protest every G8/G20 meeting.

These are the Gonzo Guidelines for travelling:

  • No guidebooks
  • Say yes to everything
  • Always accept food if it is offered by kind locals
  • Trust your gut
  • Smile in the face of frustration
  • Push your limits
  • Boycott multinational food franchises.

At the other end of the spectrum are the Mexico Lite Tourists – who want to be in a foreign country but have it just like home.  Any hint of foreignness challenges and  worries.

Between the Gonzo Tourist and the Mexican Lite Tourist is wide spectrum of tourists.  It is all about a point of view and a reaction.

This post is going to try to help you pinpoint where you are on the Tourist Spectrum.

Look at this picture and answer the caption.

Bus Station or Bus Junk Yard

Bus Station or Bus Junk Yard

Your reaction to the picture will give you some idea of where you are beginning to fall on the Travel Spectrum.  Much of it deals with how you define adventure.

Again answer the question posed in the caption to the next picture

Clothes Line or Clothes Sale?

Clothes Line or Clothes Sale?

For the Gonzo Tourist, this is a shopping expedition.

For the Mexican Lite Tourists shopping is only an adventure because purchases are evidence that you have been away.

There are  Mexican Lite Guidelines for when travelling:

  • Always follow the guidebooks
  • Say No to everything offered you
  • Never, never eat local food even if offered by kind locals
  • Never trust your gut nor leave your hotel unattended
  • Complain about everything
  • Set your limits and stick by them
  • Only eat in multinational food franchises

So continuing with Travel Spectrum Placement.  Where would you shop?


Pick a Place to Shop

If you choose C, then you are definitely on the Mexican Lite side but all these pictures were taken in San Miguel so you can see there is a range offered to all tourists on the Travel Spectrum.  Yes you can visit San Miguel as a Gonzo Tourist but it is difficult.

Next area is food.  You have to eat.  Answer the caption to the next picture

Potentail Botulism or Taste Treat?

Potential Botulism or Taste Treat?

Hmmm.. the food issue.  Eat it or not?  For some it starts with Eat There of Not

Restaurant Walk

Restaurant Walk

Answer which way you would walk – towards the right or the left?  Depending on your point of view are you walking from or towards Danger?

For the Mexican Lite Tourist – danger lurks everywhere.

Next question – what do you think this store sells?


Masks for Robbers or Wrestlers?

This is where fear starts to move you along the spectrum.  If leaving Kansas means taking a risk then danger can be seen everywhere?

This only gets more complicated when you travel.

You need to use the washroom.  You can tell by the blue figures which is the men’s and which is the women’s.  Now look at the table


What goes through your mind?

A   Do I have to pay and will they take American?
B   Do I have to take all my clothes off
C   Is this girl dead?

See danger is in the head of the Tourist.  The Mexican Lite Tourist would simply not use the facilities.

Next test of danger – foreign signs

Store Sign

Store Sign

The Mexican Lite Tourist can’t speak a word of Spanish but the Paranoia they feel gives them superhuman translation abilities. This is what they read.

Mexican Lite Sign

Mexican Lite Sign

The next series of pictures work on the Charm Theme. Look at the picture and decide what you would do.
Mexican Lite Tourist would see a source of diarrhea while the Gonzo Tourist would grab a plastic bag, fill it and eat everything unwashed.

More shopping test – which is more charming?

By now, you should have a good idea of which type of tourist you are.

But yet another test. Would you plug your computer into this outlet?
wall plugs

And do you view this house as a Fixer Upper or a Slum?
fixer up 2

In San Miguel, you can stay at the Best Western, shop at supermarket that looks just like the ones at home, eat at restaurants with English menus and never never have to experience Danger although it is only a Taxi Ride away.