As much as I love Europe, it was a difficult decision to leave San Miguel de Allende to return there. This is a lovely town, and it was a great place to settle down in for a while. While it wouldn’t be my top choice for staying for a year or more, I can definitely see why others come and never leave.
While there isn’t a lot of great food here, there is still some good stuff. As is the case every time we leave Mexico, we will definitely miss the cuisine. It’s so hard to find good Mexican out of the country, and replicating it on the road can be tough based on not being able to find the same ingredients as well as the different flavor.
And finding crab tostadas as good as the ones here is going to be next to impossible in Europe!
I am especially going to miss being able to communicate with everyone, being able to read the labels and menus, etc. Particularly if we do indeed stay in Budapest. Hungarian is a tough language to learn for foreigners. Luckily, Budapest has tons of English speakers. But grocery shopping will definitely remain a challenge for a while. Google Translate just can’t handle the compound words.
The Laid-Back Vibe
Budapest has a very welcoming feel to it, but San Miguel has that type of atmosphere that just makes it difficult for you to be in a rush. After having been in other areas where the locals love their car horns, it’s been amusing to see someone standing outside a car having a conversation with the driver while 10 cars wait behind them calmly.
On the flip side, it also encourages me to stay home and be lazy. Well, combined with the small area of town. Most places I go to are within a 10- to 15-minute walk.
It’s just a very relaxed place, and the colorful trees, flowers, gardens, and buildings, along with a fairly mild climate, readily entice you to just find a place to sit and not move for a while.
Sunshine and Weather
I think San Miguel has more sunshine than even Colorado, which gets about 300 days a year. And the quality of light is just amazing here.
This month has had some seriously cold nights and days, but most of the time we’ve been here it has been pretty temperate.
Most of the time we have warm days and at night one only needs a light jacket. Until you’re in your cement home which acts like refrigeration. It’s often colder inside than out.
It’s so nice being able to leave the door and windows open all day to have a constant flow of fresh air inside the apartment.
In addition to our normal vendors, we’ve made some good friends here, and it’s been fun being able to hang out with them. Yeah, we’ll make friends in Hungary, too, but it’s still hard to leave people behind you’ve gotten to know over the last 4 months.
And they’ve been some momentous months as well: We’ve celebrated Forever Day, Thanksgiving, Chrismakah, Christmas, New Year’s, and Gotcha Day here. Lots of really fun memories have been created here.
I’ll miss the big grins from our produce lady and the aguas frescas guy, and the funny smile from the kid who bags groceries. Even though we’ve been shopping there for almost 4 months and always bring our own cloth bags, every time I whip them out he grins. The last time we shopped there, we ran out of room in the 2 bags, and he wasn’t sure what to do. It was a funny moment when he sheepishly asked, “Do you want a bag for these?” for the remaining items that wouldn’t fit.
One day Tigger ran down to the convenience store that sells Icees and nachos. He discovered the money was missing from his pocket, and they gave him the food anyway. That isn’t likely to happen in Budapest. (And, yes, I went there the next day to pay for his items.)
I will miss the cheery disposition of the locals. They are quick to return a smile. They will often go out of their way to help you without any expectations. The few times I’ve overpaid for something, they’ve always been sure to correct me and hand me my change.
I’ve written before about how our produce lady will walk around to other stalls if she doesn’t have what I’m looking for, and despite the very little money she is making on every transaction, she always adds a few pieces of fruit to our bag at no charge.
While in Europe I’ve seen someone slip and fall on the sidewalk and have seen people just walk past them, here people will cross a busy street to help even though there are already 10 people taking care of it.
Last month I read a message from someone who shared that after having eaten at a small family-run restaurant, they were going to get a taxi to go somewhere. The owner knew that getting a taxi on New Year’s Eve was going to be tough, so he insisted they let him drive them to their destination. And, of course, he refused to accept any payment.
The other day we heard music in the street and were treated to a random wedding parade going up our street. I’m betting this won’t happen in Budapest.
I’ll also miss the festive environment in the main plaza known as “the jardín.” During the weekdays, one can sit under the trees and just enjoy the slow pace of life. At night and on weekends, things tend to liven up quite a bit, and the place is filled with music, laughter, and children running around accompanied by the smells of food from the carts and nearby restaurants.
Yeah, it’s a cliché, but San Miguel de Allende truly is a magical place.