Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy to be here

I spent the end of February being pissed. I’d had to use my meager travel budget to go to Baltimore for a personal emergency at the beginning of the month during one of the coldest winters on record. I tried to add a little vacation energy to this trip, went to New York for a few days, but it was too frigid to enjoy the City. Since my discretionary money was gone, I’d be stuck in Mexico until I found more freelance work.

I assumed I’d be bored. Since I came to Mexico in 2005, my San Miguel life had coexisted with travel, both in the States and abroad. I needed a bigger world, was used to the stimulation of New York. What would I do for entertainment during low tourist times when there are few activities here? But I wasn’t bored. With new friends, non-stop partying in the foreign community this year, and increased weekend events in town, I had a good time.

Being here non-stop also allowed me to see how much the town has changed. During the past two years, it has transformed from a seasonal to a weekend tourism town. Upper-income Mexican tourists have replaced the foreigners who abandoned the city following the outbreak of swine flu in April 2009 and continued to stay away out of fear from what they read about the Mexican drug wars.

The transition has been hard on merchants and restaurants—the nationals don’t want what attracted foreigners. Foreign tourists are attracted to town’s colonial charm. The Mexicans want modern and sleek. But I like the new San Miguel; like the juxtaposition of the modern interiors behind colonial walls. Like the more young people are coming both to stay and visit. I’ve always had a multi-generational life and my time here has been populated mostly with people my age. I like that SM is flooded with the frivolity of nationals out to have a good time on the weekends. Like that TEDx San Miguel has become part of our annual landscape; that Cervantino, Guanajuanto’s International Festival that celebrates all the arts, is hosting some of its events in our town; that more restaurants are offering live music some night and that, during the week, more have specials to lure locals out.

I’ll always want New York for friends, jazz, theatre and Alvin Ailey. Always want to travel, explore other worlds. But as long and work is scare and money tight, this is a good place to be. There’re things to do ranging from the Writers’ Conference in February to November’s Jazz and Blues Festival. We have year round sunshine. Even during January highs reach the 70s, and May’s heat is oppressive but we’re in the mountains so it cools down at night. If you choose, live here can be expensive but there’s still lots that, compared with the US, is cheap. US luxuries are affordable here. Most expatriates can afford to have someone help with the housework, at least one day a week. Many have gardeners. Hair salons and body pampering costs a fraction of what it does in the States.

Rather than bitch about what’s been lost, am enjoying what is.