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Relox 16

Noah's Arc - Jewish Whimsey in Catholic Mexico
Semana Santa, Day of the Dead, the Aztec "conchero" dancers of Our Lord of the Conquest, Los Locos dancing for St. Anthony--San Miguel de Allende is famous for these and more Catholic religious observances. And they are all worth seeing.

But wander down Calle Relox, just half a block from the central Jardín, and you get a glimpse into the mind of a Jewish "sanmiguelense" with a sense of humor. Arca de Noe--Noah's Arc--is a building featuring some of the most impish, charming and endearing gargoyles you've ever encountered. Monkeys and sheep, puppy dogs and big-eyed deer, a bull and what looks like a smiling hippo--all of them giving you a look that says they're just delighted to be there. Atop the roof line, lions and birds and dogs strut their stuff. A frieze of horses, camels, elephants and a bison march along below the cornice. A couple of cats look ready to pounce. And look, there's a scorpion. And over there an armadillo. And what on earth is that fantastical creature? A coat of arms proudly tops it all, while over the big wooden doors a large Star of David beckons you enter the Arca de Noe.

The building, made of the same local golden-pink "cantera" stone as the Parroquia church, has been home to the Casa Cohen hardware and ironware store for decades--though rumor has it that they may be going out of business. I hope rumor lies.

In any case, a stroll past Noah's Arc is well worth the time. And take your camera. The critters like to pose and their grins are waiting.
Relox 16, Centro, Zona Centro, 37700 San Miguel de Allende, Gto., Mexico
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