Tag Archives: San Miguel de Allende

Small Business in Mexico–SMA Walking Tours by Joseph Toone

Today’s featured business is Joseph Toone Tours run by Joseph Toone, naturally.  Not only does he provide walking tours of San Miguel de Allende, but has done extensive research on customs of the area and compiled them into several books.  He’s definitely someone to look up your next trip to SMA.

Captura de pantalla (99)

How did you end up in Mexico?
Grace of God.  Came down ten years ago with 3 kids in HS, bought a house the first time here and moved here.  Best move ever!

Where do you live now?
San Miguel de Allende, Gto.

Have you experienced any defining moments since settling in Mexico?
Many and they all started with a grandmother in my volunteer English class asking me to be her danzon partner despite not speaking Spanish (then) or knowing how to dance. That led to my introduction to Mexican history and culture by performing at festivals. That led to writing articles which led to now being TripAdvisor’s number one private guide for my town and Amazon’s best selling author on Mexican History and Travel for a series of books called San Miguel de Allende’s Secrets.

Would you say that you changed?
Yes.  More patient and understanding of faith’s role on history and culture.  Less controlling and worried about the future.

When did you get started?
3 years ago

What prompted your business choice?
A need to express to foreigners Mexican history, faith and culture to better understand what is going on around them during their stay.

How do manage?
My kids are grown and gone so the business is just me.  Business is a bit grand of term. Tours supply the money to allow me to print books based on articles I’ve written for both local press and international publications.  I sold my high tech company providing the income for me to live off investments in Mexican companies.  I consider the tours and writing a time consuming and fun hobby explaining the indigenous and Spanish roots to modern traditions.

What do you offer?
Top rated tours and bestselling books on central Mexico.

Is your business local or are your products/services available online?
Books are for sale on Amazon but tours are local.



San Miguel de Allende Secrets: History and Culture with Virgins, Barbies and Transgender Saints


San Miguel de Allende Secrets: Easter with Plagues, Prison, Piñatas and Popsicles


San Miguel de Allende Secrets: Day of the Dead with Skeletons, Witches and Spirit Dogs


San Miguel de Allende Secrets: Christmas with St. Nick’s Nudes, Devils and Jesus’ Doppelganger

How can you be reached?
Joseph Toone Tours

Joseph Toone

Catholic SMA

History and Culture Walking Tours





1 Comment

Filed under Inspirational Writers in Mexico, Small Business in Mexico, Uncategorized

Blogs About Mexico Worth Reading–Don Day in SMA

I’ll just let our next blogger introduce himself.   Here he is, the guru of good eats in San Miguel de Allende–Don Day in SMA.


My real name is Glenn Griffin and I’m guessing most people who read the blog know that. So some people call me Don, some people call me Glenn, some people call me #*%~¥€!, and most people know to not call me late for dinner (or cocktails). Using a pseudonym goes back to my freelance days when I would be working for two competing publications; cashing cheques in someone else’s name was a frequent problem.

What brought you to Mexico?

I originally came for sun, sand, sex and cerveza in the seventies. Living vicariously through newspaper columnist Paul Rimstead, who spent his winters here in the seventies, is what brought me to San Miguel de Allende in 2004.

What was the inspiration behind the name of your blog?

Don Day in SMA. It was a Spanglish attempt at Where in San Miguel de Allende but obviously not the best of puns as the number of people that “got it” I can count on one hand.  (¿Dónde en San Miguel de Allende?)


What area of Mexico and topics does your blog primarily focus on?

Central Mexico, more specifically San Miguel de Allende, and mostly good food and good wine.

Why do you blog?

I was lured away from journalism to the big bucks of advertising very early in my career and always had regrets. Retirement and the birth of blogging gave me the opportunity to sneak back in the side door. Food and wine have always been a big part of my life; writing about it was a natural choice. I like to think that I’m the advice column for anyone looking for the best things to eat and drink in San Miguel. My primary target audience…hard to totally take the boy away from the advertisingese…are the expats and snowbirds of central Mexico.


What is your favorite blog post?

After hundreds and hundreds, it’s hard to name one. My greatest joy comes from discovering a little hole in the wall with very good food that is starving for customers, writing about it and returning to see a lot of asses on a lot of chairs.

What has been the most difficult for you to blog about?

Wine has always been a struggle. I thought that over time…I’ve had an extraordinary amount of practice…I might develop a palate like some of the experts. I haven’t and still might confuse a Cabernet Franc with a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Sauvignon Blanc with a Chenin Blanc. It is also difficult to write about wine in San Miguel because our supplies of individual brands are so small; if I rave about something it disappears off the shelf leaving my readers frustrated and angry (including me if I haven’t stocked up).

What has been the best experience you’ve had in Mexico?  

My best experience in Mexico has been making new friends…of which the blog is mostly responsible. I now have more great people to hang out with after 13 years in Mexico than I have after 60 years in Canada. Mexico resulted in a renaissance of my social life when I thought I was going to be spending my days in an easy chair, getting fat and bald, while reading dog-eared recipe books.

What has been the worst experience you’ve had in Mexico?

I can’t think of one really bad thing. Really. Well maybe once sitting on a cactus.

If you are no longer in Mexico, do you plan on returning?  

I spend six months in Mexico, six months in Canada each year. If I didn’t have a giant-sized family in Canada, I might spend every day of my life in Mexico. I am currently in Canada. Back in Mexico for the month of August and then there from October to April.


Where do you see your blog going?  

My blog has gone as far as I hoped it would go. I wanted to become a knowledgeable, entertaining and respected critic of San Miguel de Allende’s culinary scene and I think I’ve accomplished that. I wanted to be followed by most of central Mexico’s “foodies” and my number of subscribers suggests that. I’m delving deeper into Mexican cuisine but otherwise, my subject matter and style won’t probably change.



Leave a comment

Filed under Blogging, Blogs about Mexico Worth Reading, Guest Blogger Adventures

A to Z Blogs About Mexico–From Rancho Santa Clara

Alfred blogs at Rancho Santa Clara, near one of my favorite colonial cities in Guanajuato.  I’m sure you’ll love his off-grid dream house building adventures as much as I did!

rancho santa clara

Retirement brought me to Mexico.  We live in a small ranch, about seven acres. I grew up in Cuba in a town named Santa Clara.

My bog is pretty wide-ranging, though I try to keep it focused on topics related to the ranch, San Miguel de Allende or Mexico. But I can stray and talk about politics in the U.S. for example. I used to work in a newspaper and I like to write. I don’t have any particular audience in mind. I’d like to get more readers for my blog, but that’s about it. I don’t want to complicate it so much that it turns into a full-time job.

My favorite blogs posts have been a couple about the death of our favorite dog, Gladys. We really loved her. It has been difficult to write about Crime and security issues in San Miguel and Mexico. I want to be both accurate and fair, realistic but not a scare-monger.

Oddly enough, a memorial service for the sister of a friend has been the best experience I’ve had in Mexico. It was a beautiful ceremony that included a ten-year- old boy singing mariachi tunes. The worst experience I’ve had in Mexico was being the executive director of a local animal shelter. Don’t need that again. Stay away from volunteer organizations.

We don’t know how long we plan on remaining in Mexico. My husband and I have been here for eleven years and occasionally have talked about returning to the States.

For those planning on moving to Mexico, I suggest they rent for three or four months before moving.

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogging, Blogs about Mexico Worth Reading, Guest Blogger Adventures, Uncategorized

Getting Legal–Renewing our U.S. passports–Trip 2


A few weeks later, I received a call from the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City. The Spanish speaking flunky on the other end of the call informed me that my photograph was unacceptable. Apparently, he judged the background too gray. I suppose my ink was running low when I printed that picture. So he told me I should take a new picture meeting the acceptable size and color guidelines to the consulate within 90 days. I told him I didn’t live near the consulate and asked if there was some other way I could deliver the picture. He told me I could deliver it directly to the U.S. embassy in Mexico City if I liked. Not that we live any closer to Mexico City.

Later that day he sent me an email that outlined the procedure for a name change on my passport. I wrote back asking for clarification of the email since we hadn’t discussed a name change on the phone. He sent another email with an apology and an attachment (all in Spanish) with the requirements for the passport photo. I printed the attachment out and asked again if there was another way I could deliver the photo, like through the mail, rather than making another trip to San Miguel. He didn’t bother to respond.

Since we were going to have to make the trip again, I gathered all my paperwork for working papers together in order to try for a two-for-one deal. I requested a letter of employment from the school secretary and the director stamped and signed it. I dug out the paper that listed the requirements for the change of status through immigration that I had gotten on a previous trip (See Working Papers). I also packed up any documentation that I thought might be requested (my residency card, my birth certificate, my canceled passport, and my marriage certificate). I also sent an email to the U.S. consulate asking if I would need any additional paperwork when I brought the new photo.

Strip mall where the passport office has been moved to.

Strip mall where the passport office has been moved to.

And we were off.  We arrived in SMA and parked in front of Office Depot. My son and I trotted to the consulate and discovered that it was closed on Fridays. The kiosk where I was planning on having my picture taken was also closed on Fridays. Well damn!

Of course, this fact was not found anywhere on the official website. (See Hours for US embassy offices in Mexico.) So as not to waste the trip, we headed over to the SEGOB office at the other end of town.

In order to avoid denial due to spelling or format errors, I trotted next door and had this office fill out my forms.

In order to avoid denial due to spelling or format errors, I trotted next door and had this office fill out my forms.

We went to the lawyer’s office next to immigration and I explained what I needed. The secretary filled out the on-line form for me and the lawyer called me into his office. I gave him the letter the school had given me. In the letter, the secretary had written that I would be the English coordinator beginning August 18. As it was only August 15, the lawyer said this would be a problem as I was only to inform immigration AFTER I started working. Since I hadn’t shown the letter to immigration, he said he would write in the letter bajo de protesta decir la verdad (swearing to tell the truth) that I had begun on August 13. He said this wouldn’t be lying since I had attended teacher meetings during the week, but that I shouldn’t present the school employment letter unless asked. He also said the letter was invalid on another point. The director had signed and stamped the letter, but I needed a copy of his IFE (voter registration card) to prove the signature was his. Well, I didn’t have that either. I asked about identification since my current passport had been canceled and the new passport was waiting on a new photo. The lawyer assured me that the only identification I would be asked for was my permanent residency card.

For the letter and on-line form, it was $210 pesos. I took these two documents, plus my permanent residency card and a copy next door. I took a number and waited less than 5 minutes. I nervously explained what transaction I was applying for and gave the clerk my documents. After he looked them over and stamped them, he told me to check back in 5 days. He printed another document with the web address where I could check on the status of my application and told me that I would receive an email as well. Much to my surprise, he kept my residency card. Back home we went, but wait there’s more!



Leave a comment

Filed under Getting Legal