Lord, my friends in the southeastern U.S. are suffering this week and my heart goes out to them. Here in San Miguel de Allende though, the rains have come. Our weather has settled into its summer pattern – highs in the low 80’s during the day and dry as a bone – lows in the 60’s at night, with an evening potential of thunder storms. With the fan blowing, I sleep under a (very light) blanket.
The idea of living in San Miguel de Allende came to me unformed and inchoate on a typical August day in Louisville, Kentucky. I was walking Asher in the afternoon when a question leapt into my mind: “Do you want to live (and die) in this climate?” Like a guitar chord sounding pure as heaven the “NO!” roared into my consciousness.
When I began searching for a climate I could live with, San Miguel de Allende wasn’t on my radar. During weeks of research on the Internet, slowly a constellation of needs began to build. Climate remained number one, but soon I realized that the presence of the arts, the opportunity for intellectual stimulation, and the opportunity for involvement in my community was running an almost indistinguishable second.
I looked at (the highlands) of Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Panama, Ecuador, El Salvador and Guatemala. Despite the fact that I lived in L.A. for ten years and San Francisco for nearly 15, met wonderful Mexicans in both places, and traveled to the border areas of Mexico for fun & exploration during those years , I didn’t look at the country for nearly six months.
Like many Americans with even the slightest interest in international affairs, I knew about the violence and concomitant lawlessness bleeding the country and, as sad as it is to admit it, I was afraid. But one day a dear friend asked, “Why not Mexico?” in general terms, and a flood gate opened.
Why not Mexico, indeed? It’s such a big, fascinating country. All of the other places I’d been researching felt like island nations somehow, but Mexico was entangled with the U.S., had more than enough room to roam, distinctive regions, a glorious geography, international cities, a wealth of different cultures, and a lovely town called San Miguel de Allende where most of my bleeding left sympathies could find an outlet. Not to mention, despite the awful heat in April and May, perhaps the most perfect year-round climate on earth. “Tuscany in the new hemisphere”, indeed!
I’m under no illusion as to how the accident of birth has blessed my life. As an American with a small stipend through Social Security, I’ve had the chance to choose. The only proper response is to be grateful and to try to spread some of my ‘blessing’ around.
PS – Like every other place on earth, San Miguel de Allende is not without its problems. Water resources are scarce. Poverty and lack of health care & education scar its landscape. Pollution and environmental degradation exact their toll, and the rich and the poor, living distinctly separate lives, experience all of this quite differently. Despite the siren calls of the realtors here, I don’t think anyone who isn’t willing to roll up their sleeves and engage in this community could be truly happy in their isolated mansion no matter how great the weather – because this is decidedly not paradise.
But, maybe that’s just me.