Security will be a question, but if you comb through the U.S. State Department's 34 paragraphs of current crime-and-safety warnings to tourists in Mexico, and Pozos doesn't come up. Several locals told me the crime wave elsewhere hasn't made much difference in daily life here, except perhaps to slow the flow of visitors.
Every May, there's a mariachi festival; every July, a pre-Hispanic music festival; every September, a celebration of the nopal and maguey plants. (The nopal, a.k.a. prickly pear cactus, is an occasional ingredient in tacos and egg dishes. The maguey, a.k.a. agave, is an indispensable ingredient in tequila.) There are art walks in summer and winter, and one or two home-and-garden tours annually.
For a few years now, Fernandez has been leading horseback tours, charging about $20 per person per hour. This year, two galleries and two craft shops have opened.
As I drifted off to sleep that first night, on a four-poster bed in a spacious, well-appointed room, I imagined the whole town as an artifact carried back by an artist to the studio -- not a conventionally pretty artifact, but an absorbing one, evocative, compelling, mysterious.
And then I wished I had aspirin, because Pozos is about 7,500 feet above sea level and my altitude headache didn't subside until the next morning, when Sanchez led me through the landmarks of the town's resurgence.
Of course, Teresa Martinez was on the itinerary. Fifteen years ago, Martinez told me, she'd come to town to lock herself up for two years and write a novel. Instead, Martinez (who was born in Monterrey, Mexico, but spent many years studying and working in California and New York) wound up launching herself as an entrepreneur.
By 1995, she had converted a former cigar factory into a five-room hotel/restaurant/gallery. In one guest room at her Casa Mexicana, a 20-foot living pepper tree shoots through the ceiling. Another, known as the Tower, is arranged as a four-level loft, suitable for a Mexican Rapunzel.
After all these years as a pioneer, Martinez admits to some weariness. In fact, she recently closed her restaurant, Cafe des Artistes, and cut the Casa Mexicana to Thursday through Sunday nights. But she has also added spa services and massages and may reopen the restaurant in January.
The next chapter in the Pozos story stands next door: the Casa Montana, a hotel/restaurant/gallery that came along in 2000, giving Martinez competition but also reassuring her that, in her words, "I wasn't crazy."
This venture was created and is run by Susan Montana, an expat from New Mexico. Instead of taking on a ruin, Montana built from scratch, hiring laborers who used the same local chipped-stone masonry style seen in buildings all over town. (Martinez and Montana also both double as real estate agents, courting American buyers with rehabbed houses priced as low as $95,000 to more than $300,000.)
But the latest lodging competition in town -- and the most formidable -- is the Posada de las Minas, opened in 2005 about a block up the hill and designed and run by David and Julie Winslow of Houston and Pozos.
It's the largest lodging in Pozos (eight rooms), festooned with folk and contemporary art, with a central courtyard, restaurant, whirlpool and gardens, the interiors as saturated with color as the streets outside are bleached by the sun.
When they bought the property, David Winslow told me, "There were no ceilings and no floors on the second level. And only one of the columns in the courtyard was standing." Now there are six columns around that courtyard and a retractable roof above. Next time, I'll stay at the Posada de las Minas.
As with the other lodgings, the Winslows' inn gets most of its visitors on weekends (when the galleries are open), and summer and winter are much busier than spring or fall. Though most overnight guests in town are upscale Mexican travelers, all three innkeepers aim to woo Americans seeking a smaller, slower San Miguel de Allende.
By the way, if you're keeping score at home, you've counted a collective 18 rooms in the town's three hotels. In my rounds, I saw 17 of them. (One lock was broken.) And I came to realize that on the night I arrived, I was the only hotel guest in town.
Alas, the solitude didn't last. Before the next morning, a quartet of stylish, Spanish-speaking women turned up for a meal at the Casa Montana, and a couple of photographers had checked in at the Posada de las Minas. But in a town like Pozos, it's easy enough to imagine being an Omega Man.
Pozos was born in 1576 as a mining town, and grew in fits and starts alongside half a dozen other boomtowns in the high, rugged central region that Mexicans call the Bajio. By the last years of the 19th century, the number of working mines had reached 300 and the population in Pozos alone had reached 70,000.