Back to SMA
Many many years ago, Ky worked with a fellow who said that when he retired that he would like to move to an exotic sounding place called San Miguel de Allende in Mexico (SMA). Two years ago we visited SMA as it is commonly referred to. We stayed for a month, which is a relatively long time for us. It is a Pueblo Magico (explained in my original blog at https://coffeys2go.wordpress.com/2017/01/27/pueblos-magicos/ and we decided it was time for a return visit.
There is a Facebook page for the town, and I posted our website, www.coffeys2go.com, on it and mentioned that we wanted to visit. I mentioned also that we were willing to pet and or house sit in exchange for the use of a lovely home. We quickly received a response from a woman who was interested in having us house sit for her while she returned to the U.S. to handle some business.
We typically research areas in which we are interested in visiting, and then see if there is anyone in those areas who we can help with their pets, and or home. We like to see photos and usually talk with people via Skype or WhatsApp before we agree to the sit. There is a great deal of trust required on both sides of a sitting agreement.
We know that what we're doing would not be comfortable for many homeowners, and there are many individuals who are not at ease staying in other people's environments. I'm not totally sure why we are not just comfortable, but why this has become our favorite way of living. I find it so interesting and enjoyable to live in many different places as a local.
Airbnb is a close second as a preferred housing arrangement, but providing help to people in exchange for our services makes us feel more useful than just paying someone a fee to stay in their home. While many people are benefitting from the income which we provide to them in exchange for a place to stay, it can sometimes feel like more of a business deal, than a way to get to know people and places.
It has been nice having our vehicle here, as we usually do in Mexico. It allows us the opportunity to visit lots of unique little out of the way places. This time we are in a very small village just south of SMA and we are less than 15 minutes from the sports complex (la deportiva) where we learned to play pickleball just over two years ago. We go there nearly every day and, just as it happened then, we have made more new pickleball friends. Because we're staying longer this time (almost two months) we are very fortunate to get to know people better, and improve our Spanish (siempre es una buena idea). There is only one problem with it, and it is something that has happened in so many places. We make amigos and don't want to have to say adios. Such is the dilemma of nomads. Thank goodness for Facebook, instagram and WhatsApp. Poor substitutes for being with friends, but certainly better than not ever seeing them again or never having the privilege of meeting them in the first place!
SMA is the kind of place where you can be as busy or relaxed as you want, physically and socially. There are many expats and retirees here in addition to the locals, who have created a community full of opportunities to be artistic and fit and social. There are groups who meet regularly for all denominations of church (mostly Catholic of course), sports like pickleball, tennis, kayaking and much more, for parties, lunches, and general get-togethers on top of classes of all sorts. There are musical productions and plays and art shows. The trouble it learning to say "Thank you for the invitation, but we can't."
We have been busier here than most anywhere else we have visited. Every day we are involved with other people, and it has been such a pleasure. Between meeting people at church, on the pickleball courts, kayaking, at Aggie Muster (only 2 of us, but by-golly, we mustered), parties and meeting friends of friends, I think this is the most social we have been in ages. It will be a tough place to leave. Leave we will though, and SMA probably won't be on our short list for places to "retire" when we have to stop moving, mainly for one reason. Ky suffers from allergies here. Such a shame and no fun. He's controlling them fairly well, having been encouraged by a new friend to stay away from dairy. Amazing difference, but not completely doing the trick.
I'm not sure that we would fit in to the Mexican culture, completely in the long term either. Here's why. Ky goes to bed at about 9 pm and gets up at about 5 am most days. I have, painfully over the years, turned from my night owl tendencies to spend more time with him. We were invited to a full moon party in our neighborhood by a Canadian man and his Mexican wife. It was to begin at 7 pm. We arrived "fashionably late" at about 7:20. We were the first guests there, and the next guest did not show up until 9 pm! The last guests showed up at 10:30. Oh, and by the way, the guests were bringing the food! At 10:30 pm before they had even considered bringing out the food, which had filled the fridge to overflowing, we had to leave so that Ky wouldn't have another head banging experience in Mexico because of his head hitting the stone table from falling asleep! We had a wonderful time though, with extremely interesting and lively (even at that hour!) guests, and we were sorry to have to leave. It was a valuable lesson on the Mexican culture and that an arrival time for a party is just a suggestion. We'll know next time though - 3 hour siesta and eat pre-dinner!