Best Coffee Shops to Work in San Miguel de Allende

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Best Coffee Shops to Work in San Miguel de Allende

March 21, 2019

Looking for a cafe to work with good wifi?

The best part of being a digital nomad is choosing where to work (city, country), and at the micro level: Which coffee shop today?

To me, the place to get in computer time (or do some writing) has friendly staff, decent wifi, great coffee, plenty of power outlets. Plus, it isn’t so busy that I feel I’m getting in the way of their regular lunch business in taking up a table. If you’re visiting San Miguel de Allende, here’s a run-down of my favorite places to get connected.

I’ve created a map that might also be helpful!

At the end of the day, if you fancy a cold beer or margarita , don’t miss my posts on The Best Rooftop Bars in San Miguel and What to Do in San Miguel de Allende!

Inside Cafe

  • Wifi 80% 80%
  • Coffee 90% 90%
  • Food: You can’t do better! 100% 100%
  • Not too busy (except weekends) 80% 80%

Possibly the friendliest coffee shop in San Miguel, owned by a couple who are from Mexico and New Zealand. With excellent coffee, this is one of two places in town where you can get a great flat white (or a beer, depending on how the mood takes you).

The downstairs area (one floor up from street: featured in the header image) has lots of power outlets and decent sized tables. It doesn’t have a ton of natural light, but fun decor and ambience make up for it, and the space is generally not mobbed.

When you’re ready for lunch, the food on the open air terraza upstairs is amazing. You can’t do better than the breakfast and lunches here, which have tons of vegetarian and vegan options. On the weekend they have an unlimited chilaquiles buffet with coffee, fruit and juice. And it’s not only me who thinks the chow is amazing. The food here gets rated as #1 in all of San Miguel on TripAdvisor!

Working at Inside Cafe, I rarely feel like I’m in the way, as the lunch crowd pass through to visit the upstairs restaurant. Saying that, it can get busy on weekends with people waiting for a table upstairs, so a better fit for working on weekdays.

Geek & Coffee

  • Wifi: Best in Town 100% 100%
  • Coffee 80% 80%
  • Food 80% 80%
  • Not too busy 90% 90%

A little further from the center (although not much), Geek & Coffee is located next to the amazing art center that is Fábrica La Aurora. 

With dual fiber connections, you won’t find better connectivity and for that reason this is one of my personal favorites. A great place to settle in for the day and enjoy the expansive garden and view of the duck pond. 

They have plenty of outlets both inside and outside, good coffee, and a have a broad choice of drinks and food, with a great value daily special. Or you can always skip out for a break and visit one of several great restaurants in Fábrica La Aurora next door).

As an added bonus, this is the spot to come if you’re having computer issues. The ‘geeks’ here are ten times more qualified than Best Buy, and a hundred times friendlier. I’ve seen them help with problems ranging from ‘I can’t get my iTunes to work’ to my iPhone won’t connect.

Geek & Coffee has been known to get a little busy mid to late morning with local business and mom’s meetings, but of all those listed, this is the largest location (due to its expansive garden), so even with a crowd, things normally work out just fine.

Ki’bok

  • Wifi 80% 80%
  • Coffee 80% 80%
  • Food 40% 40%
  • Not too busy (and super central) 90% 90%

This place is a hidden gem, right in the center of town, with good coffee and super cute presentation on wooden boards. It has three levels: the street where you enter, an upstairs level that I like best because it is usually quiet enough to stay focused and a terraza roof deck with a cute view.

Friendly Mexican staff, and enough space to not feel cramped. Ki’bok has a limited food menu (mostly vegan options like quinoa bowls), but the upside is you won’t get chased out by the lunch rush.

This is a place where I can easily pass a big chunk of the day, spreading my manuscript out on the table and getting editing done.

La Mesa Grande

  • Wifi 70% 70%
  • Coffee 50% 50%
  • Food: Broad Selection 80% 80%
  • Not too busy 50% 50%

Named after its largest table that spans the whole cafe, La Mesa Grande is a gathering place, with a wide breakfast and lunch menu, and various fresh breads for purchase, including pizzas.

It’s a great central choice, but one note that with its central (super convenient) location, it can get busy with the tourist crowd over lunch hour, especially during high season and holidays.

Although I’ve never been asked to leave, I have been known to clear out over lunch as I felt like I was preventing them doing business by taking a whole table for work. But this is rare and not usually the case in the mornings or late afternoon.

Plenty of power outlets and separate tables (in addition to the large central table), and the coffee is decent, although not among the best in town.

Cafe Arab’ella

  • Wifi 60% 60%
  • Coffee 70% 70%
  • Food (some great middle eastern options) 70% 70%
  • Not too busy (but check hours) 90% 90%

A new kid on the block. If you’re staying near the San Rafael neighborhood (close to San Juan de Dios, the second largest food market in town), this cafe has a friendly owner from Ohio, a quiet vibe and nice food ranging from bagels in the morning to lunch that includes flatbreads,  dolmas, chicken kebabs and a Mediterranean plate with hummus.

The hours are a bit more unusual (they take a break during the day), so check out their Facebook page for latest hours, but this is a cute neighborhood spot which provides a nice break from the hustle and bustle of the center. It’s rarely too busy and is also located right around the corner from Shelter Theater and often open before shows.

Plan to use the wifi with digits in its title (not Centro Villanueva) and the speed is actually pretty decent.

 

Special Mention

These are more cafes I love, and where I sometimes work, however, for various reasons they don’t quite make the cut of the top places to work, in general (but if you’re a writer don’t miss Cafe Zenteno the first one).

Cafe Zenteno

There are several Cafe Zentenos in San Miguel de Allende and in my opinion (other than the BuonForno bakery) these have the single best coffee.

The Zenteno I love for working is located inside the Bellas Artes complex inside a converted convent. You couldn’t imagine a better setting to jot down a few words or dream away a part of the day.

However, this cafe doesn’t make the ideal list above due to a lack of power outlets (let’s face it the laptop only lasts so long!).

However, it’s perfect if you’re just looking for a spot for a couple of hours or want to write by hand in a fabulous outside locale. This spot is so San Miguel it belongs in the movie. Complete with blankets over the chairs if it’s a chilly day.

There are two other locations of Cafe Zenteno by the same owners with the same great coffee. One is small and on the corner of Hernandez Macias (quiche and cookies), while the other on Canal Street has a beautiful open courtyard and serves breakfast or lunch (it also has a different name, La Sacristia, just to confuse you!). You’ll recognize each of the Zenteno cafes by the tables with dried flowers under the glass. And, of course, the same great coffee.

Cafe Rama

I love this breakfast and lunch spot close to the Rosewood hotel, which has a cool spin on breakfast, including an interesting asparagus dish and a nice take on a croque madame.

I’ve been known to work here: their wifi is good, and they have some of the coolest decor and art. However, to me it’s always felt like more of a restaurant than a cafe to work for the day.

A great spot to have breakfast and catch up on work before touristing for the rest of the day.

 

The gorgeous fireplace at Cafe Rama

Starbucks

At the moment I write, there is only one Starbucks in San Miguel, right on the Jardin (main square) and that’s part of the problem with this as a work location, it’s just too busy!

Starbucks is generally mobbed, chatty, has big lines to get a coffee, and perhaps I’m a little biased, but even if Starbucks Mexico is a separate company, why would you spend your time in Mexico there instead of at any of the amazing local cafes above?

Saying that, Starbucks has the most gorgeous courtyard of any I’ve seen around the world, which is worth a visit just for the joy of taking a photo!

Short version: if you can’t live without your Starbucks specialty drink fix go ahead, but there are better, quieter places to work, with much better coffee.

Starbucks Courtyard

 

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More on San Miguel de Allende

Check out these other posts on our beatiful city!

Best Coffee Shops to Work in San Miguel de Allende

The best part of being a digital nomad is choosing where to work (city, country), and at the micro level: Which coffee shop today?

To me, the place to get in computer time (or do some writing) has friendly staff, decent wifi, great coffee, plenty of power outlets. Plus, it isn’t so busy that I feel I’m getting in the way of their regular lunch business in taking up a table. If you’re visiting San Miguel de Allende, here’s a run-down of my favorite places to get connected.

Rooftop Bars of San Miguel de Allende

Rooftop Bars of San Miguel de Allende

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The town of San Miguel de Allende doesn’t have beaches, so the best location to enjoy fresh lime margaritas and watch the sunset is one of San Miguel’s numerous rooftop bars.

Since my partner and I seem to have made a habit of hanging out at them, here’s our view of the best rooftop bars in San Miguel, with a few restaurants thrown in for good measure. There’s a map of rooftop bars here which includes several more that aren’t in this blog post. There are also posts here on the Best Cafes to Work and What to do in San Miguel.

The Big Daddys of San Miguel Rooftops 

These are the bars you’ll see referenced in the tour books. For the full San Miguel experience, plan to visit at least one of these while in town. In my opinion Atrio, Quince and Rosewood have the best views, cocktails, and staff.

Luna Tapas (Rosewood)

Luna Tapas (Rosewood)

Luna Tapas Bar (Rosewood)

The best known of the San Miguel rooftop bars and thus also the busiest. Drinks are fancy and not cheap, but it’s worth it for the view over all of San Miguel from a unique vantage point. Plan to come about an hour before sunset and hang out here until you head for dinner. You’ll want to make a reservation on weekends or holidays and if you can’t get in, skip over to  one of my favorite backups: Nena Hotel, just across the road.

How to Find: Inside the Rosewood hotel, which is a ten minute downhill walk or short taxi from the Jardin (centro). Enter the lobby, turn left before the main courtyard and left again to take the elevator (or stairs) to the top floor. On busy days they have a waiting list on the ground floor and won’t let you go up to the roof unless a spot is available.

Tupi DF Roofbar

Tupi DJ Roofbar

Where as Rosewood is the place to be to watch the sunset when it gets late (past 11pm), Tupi is where you can dance to a DJ  under the stars. This is where you’ll find the young expat (and sometimes Mexico histper) type crowd. Great DJs come in often from Mexico City.
How to Find: Above Tupinamba Restaurant, right on Zacateros. Pass through the courtyard that runs along the side of the inside of the restaurant and clime the stairs on your left at the back (before entering Mercado de Carmen which has a neat food court with several options for a quick bite).

Atrio

Atrio

The closest you can sit to the Parroquia without being inside a drone. More of a restaurant with great Asian fusion food than a bar, but also has a small lounge hangout area. Like Quince, this is a great place to  arrive before sunset and see Parroquia light up before you leave. Reservations recommended on holidays and weekends.
How to Find: Right off the Jardin on Cuna de Allende (before Quince if coming from Jardin). Check out the gorgeou tree in the lobby adn then head right and up the stairs in the diagonal corner from where you entered.

Quince Rooftop

Quince Rooftop

Quince Rooftop

One of best bars in Centro with an outstanding view of the parroquia. Come here before sunset for drinks and enjoy watching them ring the bells, followed by lighting up the church. Fun flirty wait staff and upscale food. Prices to match.

How to Find: Located on the street down the right side of the Parroquia (Cuna de Allende). You’ll enter through a courtyard. Head up the stairs on your right beyond the fountain. May require a reservation on busy weekends, but generally available earlier for drinks (before dinner reservation time).

Quince Rooftop Facebook

Mama Mia

Mama Mia

Busy busy popular!  On weekends and holidays there’s a waiting list at the very front entry of the building. Often has live music downstairs.

How to find: Entrance to Terraza bar is on left about half way into the restaurant.
Photo courtesy of Mama Mia.

Mama Mia Web Site

La Azotea

La Azotea

Nice chill bar that sometimes has a DJ spinning.

How to Find: Upstairs above El Pueblo Viejo restaurant at Umaran 6 in Centro (turn right inside before you reach the restaurant).

Photo courtesy of Pablo O from San Miguel (via TripAdvisor)

La Azotea Facebook

La Chula

La Chula

Funky more locals place. Good DJ spinning some nights. This is where to come for late night dancing (if you can get in), and salsa on certain weeknights, but skip the food, although I recently heard they started a brunch on weekends that might be worth a try.

How to Find: A few doors down from Mama Mia

La Chula Facebook

The Hidden Gems

Here are some less mobbed San Miguel de Allende rooftop bars with stellar views and a more laid-back vibe. To be honest, most of these I prefer to the bars above. Once you get sick of hanging one street off the Jardin (main square), you can’t go wrong with any of these!

Nena Hotel

Nena Hotel

An excellent alternate to Rosewood. Awesome views of the Parroquia and downtown. It’s located right opposite on same street as the Rosewood Hotel, but on opposite side of the road and the view is from a little less high. Try the margaritas!

 

How to Find: On the same street as the Rosewood Hotel. Enter the courtyard and go straight pass the fountain, through the lobby and up the stairs to the right.

Nena Hotel Web Site

El Palomar / Antonia Bistro

El Palomar

El Palomar Hotel

It’s a climb, but you’ll be rewarded with the best view over the  whole city. We tend to come here for margaritas or a cocktail and then move on to dinner in town, but they are well rated for food, too (if not cheap).

How to Find: Head up San Francisco from the Jardin and it’s 3 blocks up the hill on right side. Enter hotel entry from San Francisco (stone doorway), turn left into hotel and climb, climb, climb!

El Palomar Web Site

Sabroso Taquería

Sabroso Taqueria

This is my favorite rooftop for grabbing a quick bite to eat and a beer in centro, with a full bar. They are very reasonably priced and the tacos are to die for. Try the Costra, where your meat is wrapped in grilled cheese and then a tortilla. 

You can also order from the Chicago deep dish pizza place downstairs. A key tip: the stuffed pizza is what Americans would call Deep Dish (not the one called Deep Dish).

How to Find: Right next to Tupinamba restaurant (and Tupi rooftop) on Zacateros. Pass through the restaurant with rows of benches and up the stairs painted in rainbow colors at the back to reach the rooftop.

Sabroso Facebook Page

Chiquita Sunset

Chiquita Sunset

Great wood-fired pizza, beer and wine. Order downstairs by the pizza oven before climbing up to the deck on top of this tiny hotel.

How to Find: Up the hill from the Jardin on Corroe. To reach the terraza go straight past the beer wall on one side, up the stairs, past the 5 or so hotel rooms, around the corner and up more stairs.

Chiquita Sunset facebook

Salon Oaxaca

Great Tlayudas

Mezcal, worm salt optional

Salon Oaxaca
Awesome Oaxacan style food (try the mushroom tlayuda- it’s like a filled Mexican flatbread).  Ask the friendly owner downstairs to tell you about his different mezcals, all brought in from Oaxaca. How to find: it’s on Insurgentes. Go through the bar and out to the right, up the stairs to the roof deck.
Salon Oaxaca Facebook

Ocre

Ocre

A new kid in town, spread out over several levels (don’t be misled by the small entrance and keep climbing). Super central and sometimes has live music one level up from street.

How to Find: Super central, on Hidalgo, less than a block from the Jardin.

Ocre Facebook

Bond 007

Bond 007 Gin Bar
More of a bar to hang out than a restaurant. Good mezcal and one of best gin selections in town. How to Find: A short walk away from the Jardin on Hidalgo. Once you find it, keep climbing the stairs from the street and keep climbing past the first bar. Bond 007 Facebook

Baja Fish Taquito

Baja Fish Taquito

Baja Fish Taquito
Great fish tacos close to the jardin, with beer and wine to match. How to Find: A few gentle blocks up the hill on Mesones. Enter and go up the exceedingly narrow stairs on your right. Baja Fish Taquito Facebook

More Options with Great Food

Here are some more awesome restaurants that have great food options, but don’t forget there’s also Baja Fish Taquito for tacos and seafood and Chiquita Sunset for pizza (above).

Pegaso

Pegaso Restaurant
Great food menu with amazing deserts and rumored the best flan in town. Friendly staff and fun decor (the items on the wall are for sale). How to Find: It’s on Correo one block away from the Jardin. Entry is left and up the stairs. Nice view away from town to the houses on the hill behind downtown. El Pegaso Facebook

La Unica

La Unica

Fancy restaurant with upscale seafood optoins. Restaurant has the best view as bar is behind it, so not right on the terrace.

How to Find: not to be confused with La 21Unica (a fun downstarirs bar on Jesus /upper end of Pila Seca), La Unica is on Diez de Sollano, a few doors down from The Restaurant. It’s not instantly obvious that they have a terrace, so ask at the desk after you enter.

La Unica Facebook

MX Sushi

MX Sushi & Terraza
Nice sushi and lounge atmosphere.Great fish tacos close to the jardin, with beer and wine to match. Try the MX roll. How to Find: Enter the restaurant and head up the stairs at the back.  

The Best Bar in Town

Of course, if I’m honest my favorite bar is our own back patio. So easy and accessible, and there’s always cold beer ready in the fridge. How to Find: Give me a call and come on over!  
Our own rooftop
What to do in San Miguel de Allende

What to do in San Miguel de Allende

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For those of you considering a visit, here’s my favorite list as a local, of what to do in San Miguel de Allende. A run down of recommended must-not-miss experiences.

This is in addition to my favorite activity which will always be hanging in the Best Rooftop Bars in San Miguel de Allende!

Bask in the Colors

This might be my favorite part of San Miguel. Just wander the town and enjoy the colors and seasons. It seems like every day is a festival here and often you’ll come across some random parade. Sometimes even the locals don’t know why today is a party.

Cañada de la Virgen Pyramids

Yes pyramids, in Northern Mexio. Archaeologists didn’t count this area as within the zone where they would find pyramids and yet just recently… tada! We took the tour with Albert Coffee with one of our guests and I thoroughly recommend it.

Murals and Street Art

This is a part of San Miguel that many miss, but in the last seven years the neighborhood of Guadalupe has come to life with amazing murals covering the sides of houses and warehouses, some by world famous artists who come to San Miguel just to paint. You can start at Via Organica cafe and wander from there, but the absolute best way to see and understand the murals is a tour by Muros en Blanco given by Colleen Sorenson, who has been one of the biggest proponents of supporting street art in San Miguel (ten years ago it was forbidden).

Horseback Riding through the Cactus

Just amazing to see the seasons change from flowering cactus to waterlogged rivers to dry again. There are lots of outfitters around town, but we’ve been loyal to Beth of Leisurely Country Horseback Riding who runs a great half day ride up to the top of a mountain ridge with friendly local guides and horses.

Hot Springs

A fabulous way to relax and refresh after spending a few days wandering the city. There are several hot spring pools just outside of town (a cheap ten to fifteen minute taxi ride). La Gruta, Escondido Place, Los Senderos being the ones we’ve enjoyed. This picture is Los Senderos.

Doors and Door Knockers

A bit like the colors, if you wander around Centro you’ll come across the most fascinating doors and door knockers. There’s a reason that Doors of San Miguel gives you hundreds of results on google images!

Bug Watching

If you follow my blog you may have seen my post admitting to a VW Beetle Obsession. I finally got a photo of the gringo who drives around town in a car piled high with plush toys that changes by season. For Easter the car was piled high with bunnies and eggs. Valentines brought pink bears and hearts, and this photo has red, green and white for Mexican independence day in September. Below are a few more of my favorite shots from the last months including a bug on top of a bug?

Rent a Car and Get out of Town

As if the items above weren’t enough to keep you occupied for a week or two (add in walking tours, museums, great dining and rooftop bars), there also the option to rent a car and get out of town. We visited Queretero (quaint downtown), Guanajuato (colorful and fun), and the Sierra Gorda mountains and Huasteca Potosina (need a few days for this trip but amazing waterfalls and very different food). Bajigo rents car for a reasonable price per day, all insurance included. To finish, here’s two shots of gorgeous Guanajuato.
Of Hope and Hummingbirds

Of Hope and Hummingbirds

Tales from the Querying Trenches

One of my favorite activities (or lack of activity) in San Miguel is to watch the hummingbirds in our garden. Lately, as I’m deep into book querying (that’s when you search for an agent), I’m increasingly drawn to these tiny flying frenzies, and I’ve been trying to figure out why.

My life as a writer is more peaceful than my previous corporate life, even if full of micro disappointments, as writer’s lives tend to be. So why relate to a bird that lives every day on the knife-edge of oblivion?

I’ll be lying in the hammock, immersed in a book when I hear that familiar machine gun volley of chirps and a bright azure spark will be hovering by the feeder, its wings thrumming, guzzling sugar water as if its life depended on it. Which, in fact, it does.

I believe that daily frenzied struggle, with no option to quit, is why these birds have me captivated.

As I wait to hear back from agents on my book, attempting to strike a precarious balance between optimism and despair, I’m increasingly drawn to the avian equivalent of the little engine that could. 

You see, evolution dealt these little critters a hard blow. Originally derived from swifts (you can see the similarities when they dive), hummingbirds lost more and more weight as generations went by. They developed a unique figure-of-eight wing flap, all to better to hover next to flowers. But this helicopter-style flight (they can fly horizontally and upside down) takes a huge toll on their metabolism.

Flapping one’s wings at up to 80 strokes a second requires their tiny heart to beat over 1200 times a minute. With a frighteningly fast metabolism to power all that activity, they must find and consume more than half their body weight in sugar every day, just to survive. 

Which means every time a hummingbird stops eating, they risk dying. At night, to avoid a scenario where their bodies stop functioning for lack of sugar, they go into a state of torpor, aka short term hibernation (where their metabolic rate drops by 95% and heart drops to only 50 instead of 1200 beats a minute).

The fact is that very morning a hummingbird risks being too weak to kick-start its own heart and never waking up again.

So why do hummingbirds speak to me as a writer?

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase ‘write or die’, but it’s not as if I believe that to be true.

For me, writing is a privilege I’m afforded because I’m not living on a knife edge, unable to pay the rent this month (although it helps to pay rent at Mexico rates!).

However, this lack of struggle (not writing for survival) also increases the temptation to quit, or at least to stop believing. When an agent doesn’t appreciate my ‘”voice” or doesn’t “connect with my characters”, it’s all too easy to fall into the self-pity trap of thinking perhaps I’m not cut out for this writer thing?

And then there’s writer jealousy. You know that habit of comparing oneself to other writers that pokes in uninvited and asks questions like “Why did she get an agent before me?” or “Did you see how much more beautiful her writing is than yours?”.

Even while writing this blog post I discovered an essay from a writer who passed away, which talks of hummingbirds with more eloquence than I ever could. This happens to me rather often. My style and voice are commercial and I pine after literary writing, despite knowing that particular style isn’t my gift to share with the world.

I’m going to pause and quote some of that amazing essay by Brian Doyle, because part of my journey is learning to appreciate the work of others who have different talents and I just adored his writing.

“Hummingbirds, like all flying birds but more so, have incredible enormous immense ferocious metabolisms… Their hearts are stripped to the skin for the war against gravity and inertia, the mad search for food, the insane idea of flight. The price of their ambition is a life closer to death; they suffer more heart attacks and aneurysms and ruptures than any other living creature. It’s expensive to fly. You burn out. You fry the machine. You melt the engine. Every creature on earth has approximately two billion heartbeats to spend in a lifetime. You can spend them slowly, like a tortoise and live to be two hundred years old, or you can spend them fast, like a hummingbird, and live to be two years old.”

From The American Scholar: Joyas Voladoras (Flying Jewels)

Beautiful, right?

I’ve finally realized what appeals is hummingbirds’ very audacity to believe in their right to exist.

For me, hummingbirds represent an invitation to gratitude. Most nights I go to bed without fear of not waking up tomorrow. Without fear that if I stop fighting, I won’t survive and neither will my family. That’s a privilege most on this planet don’t have. And for this I am grateful.

Will I find a publisher for my first book? I sure hope so, but regardless I continue to learn and evolve as a writer. Watching their frenzied fight is a reminder that I have a gift to give, whether others yet recognize it or not.

As Doyle points out in the article above, we only have so many heart beats in this life.  I’ve chosen to use mine writing.

I’m also proud to be part of an amazing community of writers through the Women’s Fiction Writers Association who support each other on this great journey of creativity – including coping with rejection. And for this I could not be more grateful.

From now on, every time I see a hummingbird, I’ll consider it a call to touch base with that gratitude.

San Miguel – The Best City in the World?

San Miguel – The Best City in the World?

Yes, According to Time Magazine!

 

Time magazine just published an article declaring San Miguel de Allende, where I currently live, the Best City in the World to Travel to. And who am I to disagree? It’s certainly a writer’s paradise, with some great rooftop bars.

Their video has some shots out and about in this gorgeous city and also features Quince, one of my favorite of the rooftops.If you’re planning a visit, don’t miss my post with a roundup and map of the Best Rooftop Bars in San Miguel.

If you’re looking for a fun activity that’s not in this video I recommend Bug Spotting.