Rhonda Lerner epitomizes the true spirit of a cartographer, aiming to make maps that are all at once visually appealing, complete, accurate and easy to read. Lerner graduated in 1999 from California State University, Chico brimming with GIS knowledge and an itch to put her cartography skills to work. Unfortunately, opportunities in the field were not plentiful in Lerner's hometown of Redding, California.
A few years later she retired to San Miguel de Allende, in Mexico's central highlands. Rhonda and her husband, Albert, embarked on a trip meandering through Asia and Southeast Asia (her favorite place in the world is Lhasa, Tibet). After returning to home a year later, Lerner noticed that there were no accurate paper maps available for the popular tourist town and UNESCO World Heritage site, known for its thriving arts scene and cultural festivals - and she set out to create one.
Lerner spent over 1000 hours over the span of 10 months creating a street map and guide to the historic center of San Miguel de Allende. Beyond the typical tourist map, Lerner's map highlight history and social responsibility with selected businesses that she believes represent the best of the city, businesses that employ the handicapped and those that are owned by women. The visually appealing map also features 72 colonias and barrios defined by color, one-way street arrows, pedestrians-only zones, bridge over crossings, gardens and other useful features to make planning a walk through the city's streets simple. Since its launch Lerner has created two more maps of the San Miguel de Allende area, focusing on the Centro Historico. 'People can find places to eat, visit, shop and explore - and finally, find them easily!' says Lerner. 'I personally visited all of the listings on the map to ensure that the guide was as complete and accurate as possible.'
In 2013, Lerner submitted her map to an annual design competition run by the The Cartography and Geographic Information Society (CaGIS) - an organization composed of educators, researchers and practitioners involved in the design, creation, use and dissemination of geographic information. The map received an honorable mention in the recreational and travel map category in a competitive field of professional cartographers. This year, the third edition of the award-winning map will be released.
San Miguel de Allende should be on your bucket list of places to visit, and when you do, be sure to get a digital copy of Lerner's maps from the Avenza Map Store , or paper maps on her website to make the most of your trip.