Hold on! I’m not there … yet. Look out for me in July. A short, stocky, blonde (L’Oreal #9), sixty-three-year old man trying desperately to look young-ish. I will be living on Calle Quebrada, close to the pharmacy and liquor store, two of my priorities.
Currently, I am in Lewisville, Texas, a suburb of Dallas/Fort Worth. They say Rome wasn’t built in a day, but Lewisville was. Old world in Lewisville is 1985. North-central Texas has its charms, and when I find out what they are, I’ll let you know.
Back a few years ago I was teaching in La Paz, Bolivia. Yup, that’s what I did for thirty-eight years. La Paz is a wonderful city with weather much like SMA. The downside is the altitude. You think it’s lofty in SMA at 6,000 ft.? How about 12,000 ft.?
The extreme altitude can be problematic for an average human and even a US Marine. It was problematic for me, so I came home to the US. However, I loved the Latin-American lifestyle and Hispanic culture.
From my apartment in La Paz, I could walk to the supermercado, the bank, coffee shops, restaurants, a hardware store and other businesses. I never needed a car.
My yearning for that lifestyle never left me as I tolerated the freeways and shopping malls here. After all, everything’s a freeway away! And, it gets hot here. Soupy hot. Malaria-infected hot. People dash from air-conditioned homes to air-conditioned cars to air-conditioned buildings. Fun!
So, I started to do some scholarly research at the Institute of … YouTube. “Best Places in Latin America” and “Retire to Puerto Vallarta!” Ooh! Ahh! Margaritas every night! Enchiladas to die for!
In the meantime, a friend was going to Puerto Escondido for a vacation in January and asked me to join. Well, it was fantastic … except for one thing: the humidity. I walked to the beach from my hotel and was soaked by the time I got my feet wet. You know, that sticky feeling?
I met some great expats from the US and Canada. As a divorced single man of a “certain age,” I was worried that I wouldn’t mix with the expats, most of whom were married. That proved to be false. Expats are curious about others and welcoming, just as I am curious and welcoming with them. I have a couple of new friends from my week there, one from Ottawa and the other from London.
So, I came back and watched more YouTube videos on San Miguel de Allende. Oh, my, there are a lot of YouTube “stars” trying to make a buck getting subscribers, touting SMA. Some of these people aren’t even thirty. Thirty? I was bogged down in a mortgage, a marriage, a career and a kid on the way when I was thirty!
I reached a saturation point. I had seen enough happy-clappy videos on SMA. It was time for a visit. So, down I went, flying to Mexico City and then León. Bajio Go took me to SMA and my Airbnb.
Bill, my Airbnb host, greeted me and got me settled. It was hot out. Yeah, it’s the hottest time of the year in May. This was important because if I could handle SMA in May, I could handle anytime there.
My goal was to get an apartment. Bill suggested I join the San Miguel de Allende Newcomers and Friends Facebook Group. I did, and through them I met Kimberly Kubalek, the owner of this website. I signed the lease on my centro apartment and began to explore my new city.
It wasn’t long before I knew I’d made the right decision. Why?
What have I forgotten?
What clenched it was one afternoon I sat at a bench in the Jardin Allende and gazed at the magnificent Parroquia. To my left was an older woman originally from León, named Malena. We chatted about León and San Miguel de Allende. She was lovely.
To my right was a kid of about eighteen. When the lady left, he asked me where I was from, in English. We struck up a conversation. He is a waiter at a popular San Miguel de Allende restaurant and is forty-three, not eighteen. I’ll call him Rico. His English is pretty good, better than my pathetic Spanish. We chatted as we watched people stroll by or had their photos taken in front of the Parroquia. It was a gorgeous afternoon.
Rico is separated from his wife with a fifteen-year-old daughter. He’s sad about it, but, not sad enough that we didn’t have some laughs! Long story short, Rico and I are amigos. We got together again another night at a fantastic rooftop bar and had Mescal and beer. We’ll get back in touch when I return in July. I hope to have both expat and Mexican Nationals friends while I live in San Miguel de Allende.
Oh, so how did that clench it? It was Malena from León and Rico from San Miguel de Allende. The warmth San Miguel de Allende exudes is seductive. I felt at home that afternoon.
For me, San Miguel de Allende is a state of mind. A sunny place with friendly people. I can pretend it is 1919 as I stroll el Centro. Gone are freeways, shopping centers and high-rises. Here are fascinating expats, each with a story to tell and Nationals who are proud of their city and Mexico.
Will it be perfect? We all know it won’t. But, it will be a perfect fit for me. I am a friendly guy who can talk about just about everything, and I’m a good listener. Let me know if you want to hang out. I’ll be back in San Miguel de Allende soon!
Jeff Honeycutt was raised in Walla Walla, Washington. He is a retired grade school teacher who taught in the US and abroad for more than 30 years. He is the author of a young adult fiction series, available on Amazon. Jeff is divorced and has two grown sons.