Tuesday, November 10, 2015

San Miguel de Allende and the Expats

World Heritage Sites

I was a teenager when my aunt and uncle moved to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.  They sold their restaurant in Houston, pulled up stakes and moved to this charming little art colony.  I considered them the most romantic and adventurous people I knew and I wanted to follow in their footsteps.  My parents went down to visit them one Easter and returned with a bad review.

"All they do is sit around and drink cocktails all day. What a waste of time!"

At the time, the expat community was made up of retired artists and writers.  Many of them had very colorful personalities.  Yes, they drank a lot, but they were enjoying life to the fullest.  They had studios in their homes.  They painted, took photographs, sculpted, wrote poetry and these were activities as foreign to my parents as the country itself.

By the time I got down there, my uncle had died and my aunt was suffering from cancer.  Even so, every morning I would sit by her bed and she would make up the day's itinerary.  My travel buddy and I roamed the town by ourselves and at night would once again visit her bedside and entertain her with our day's adventures.
  Even though I've read that the town has grown and that its expat community is now a whopping 14,000, I have been assured that it has not lost its charm.  Whew!  The baroque buildings, the magnificent Gothic church, the narrow cobble stoned streets and pink stucco walls are all still there.
And this is precisely why it was added to the World Heritage List in 2007.
But would I move there?  No.

Having reached retirement age myself and having now traveled to many such expat enclaves in Mexico and Central America, I know I do not want to live in such an environment. Not so much for my father's reasons, but for my own.

 I need to be surrounded by diversity.  I need to hear the laughter of children.  I need to hear a language other than English. (There's irony here, isn't there?)  I need to be surrounded by working people.  And, yes, retired ones, too.

 I do not want to live behind a wall.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad your aunt and uncle were able to art away their retired years in a community of people they enjoyed being around. I like the photo of you during your visit.