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Ex-pats

Updated: Feb 6, 2021


Last summer we rented an artist’s apartment in Wellfleet on Cape Cod. One day we saw the apartment owner getting out of his car, which was stuffed to the gills with household items. He explained that he was getting rid of everything because he was selling his house and moving to Mexico.


I didn’t have to guess where in Mexico he intends to go. An alumnus of Brown University from the 60’s, who still dresses the part, he is an avid art collector and culture buff. He does not seem to be the kind who would want to check his brain at the border, move to a beach and rotate his lounge chair following the sun’s arc until night falls, throwing down shots of tequila at night for lack of anything else to do. San Miguel seems like more his kind of a place, with all the rich cultural, intellectual, social and culinary diversity that has been a draw for creative types for years.

I told our apartment-owner that we too are planning on moving to SMA in July of 2021.

“You’ll absolutely love it,” he effused. “I’ve traveled all over the world, but I’ve spent the last ten winters renting a place in San Miguel. Now I have a contract on a house that I’m going to renovate once I get there.”

“Are you fluent in Spanish?” I asked,fearing his response.

“No, I’m not. I took Spanish lessons at first, but then I stopped and now I’ve forgotten everything I learned. Anyway, so many people there speak English. A lot of the plays and lectures are in both languages, so it’s really not necessary.”

“See,” said Jack, elated. “I told you I don’t need to learn Spanish.”

I had been trying for months to convince Jack to take lessons with me, but he says no way. In high-school his French teacher said she’d only give him a passing grade if he promised never to sign up for French again. So I get why he wouldn’t want to try another language, epecially at our age. But it’s beyond me how anyone can not be tempted to least try, We’ll be there for a year. How can we get to know the people, or the culture if we don’t? It would be arrogant not to make an effort. I know it will be tempting for me to do what’s easy, to speak only with Jack at home, and other ex-pats we meet in comfortable English. But oh, I really hope I don’t give in and give up. Jack says he doesn’t want me to do that. He needs me to translate.

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