Subject: Living in Mexico
San Miguel de Allende is a wonderful town. There is a fairly large expatriate community. Sarah and I would not choose that, but it does bring advantages -- good schools for our children, good medical care, those kinds of things. We are renting a house in a nice area near the center, but not in it, then we go to an area not far from the main park. We are looking for some property to build a house, although it is much cheaper to rent than to buy. We have an OK deal, not great. We are paying $1,200 a month rent for a 2 bedroom house with fantastic views, where we can walk to the centro. We have a maid who comes twice and a gardener/handyman who comes three times a week.

Living away from the United States (I had lived in the US since I was 4) brings changes. We are getting used to the different bells in our neighborhood. One is for the trash -- when it rings, we go out to the street and throw the bags up to people in a big pickup truck. Another is for delivery of gas. Another is for bottled water (can't drink the water here) and yet another is for the guy who sells hot potatoes from a little cart. The bell is really him letting steam out of the cart. The food is also something to learn. Some things are much cheaper, especially fruit and vegetables. Chicken is not expensive, but beef is. And the cuts are not what we are used to in the US. The fruit is unbelievable. We eat mango and pineapple everyday. Great strawberries. Some interesting things we have only seen when we travel, like zapote. They make a lot of fruit waters, which is something we do not see much in the US. They are all very good. We buy most of our food at the weekly market (tianguis) or the local market, or we buy it at the shops on our block. There is a large supermarket here. Most people try to make it to the big city of Queretaro (400,000 people) every few months. They have a Wal-Mart and a Costco, so if you wanted to buy something like a computer, you would probably go there.

So here we are not working. That in itself is a big change, since both of us had demanding jobs. We get to spend much more time with our children, which is one of the reasons for doing this. Sarah is taking yoga and a Spanish immersion course. I am taking guitar lessons.

Half of the time we fall asleep to the sounds of church bells ringing, the other half to the howling of the neighborhood dogs and cats. In that respect, it is similar to city living, like New York.

Some things are a hassle. It can takes months, or longer, to get a phone line. The waiting list used to be three years. It also sounds nice to have a maid, gardener and a cook, but it is work managing all of those people, it complicates your life and it is intrusive. Could have stayed in KC if I wanted to keep managing people.

San Miguel has a rich tradition of arts. Tonight we went to a concert the first group was a fiddle player from Cape Breton (Canada), then a couple from New Hampshire who played Cajun music, then a group playing music from Argentina and Mexico. Maybe 30 people showed up. Small theater, very intimate and an immediate experience. For those of you from the Midwest US, think of the small venues at Winfield. There are several art classes here and luckily I qualify for the Mexican prices.

Ed and Sarah San Miguel