Blue skies, warm sun, colorful Spanish colonial buildings, friendly locals, cobble stone streets, birds chirping. This describes our charmed life in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. It’s hard to complain, and why would you? We came here (for the 3rd time) looking to settle down for a bit, after a year of moving from country to country every month or so. We weren’t ready to give up on travel, but we wanted to give our son a chance to make some friends and establish some routines.
We chose San Miguel because it provides the best of both worlds: it’s a chance to become entrenched in Mexican culture, while still enjoying some of the comforts of home. It’s easy to make friends with Mexican families as well as expat families. You can patronize the local mercados and tiendas or you can shop at the fancy supermarkets. You can learn Spanish in-country and speak it every day, but English is broadly spoken, so it’s easy to take care of more complicated challenges in your native languages.
This is a small town where it seems that most people know each other. Every evening the Jardin (main square) is filled with locals, expats, and visitors relaxing on the benches while they enjoy the lovely weather and each other’s company. It’s small enough that stop signs and street lights aren’t necessary, while large enough to offer a plethora of great restaurants and cultural entertainment options.
There’s no lack of opportunity to get involved, if you are interested. San Miguel has over 100 registered nonprofit organizations working in education, the environment, protection of animals, arts & culture, disability services, and healthcare. We enjoy volunteering at the local animal shelter and the botanical garden. We’re also members at the local biblioteca (library), where they grant scholarships to young students and provide a number of free or low cost educational and cultural programs for kids and adults. The library also houses more than 60,000 volumes in Spanish, English, German or French, so it is a fantastic community resource.
San Miguel is such a welcoming city. Our son plays futbol (soccer) with the neighborhood kids every night out in the street. They knock on the door looking for him around 5pm and, if he isn’t at home, the next day they ask worriedly where he was. He’s invited to play at their houses, he’s even invited to their celebrations. This Saturday he’s going to his friend’s First Communion party. The kids affectionately call him Güero (blond or fair complexion) and consider him their good friend.
Over the last 3 months, we’ve kept ourselves pretty busy. Almost immediately after arriving we signed up for a month’s worth of daily Spanish classes. When we weren’t in class, we were often helping to teach the English classes and invited people to our house for English/Spanish conversation exchanges. After our Spanish classes ended, we continued tutoring English language students. In fact, we meet several times each week with a brother and sister from Ecuador that we just adore.
Now, throw in homeschool, freelance work, attending a class on Mexican Culture, and a fantastic class on International Business and Organizational Behavior (working and managing in a multicultural environment) and hopefully, this explains why we haven’t posted to our blog in recent months.