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Helping Hands

Months before moving to San Miguel, Susan Davis, a friend of mine in Philadelphia, suggested I get in touch with Cynthia Claus, another friend of hers who lives in San Miguel. Cynthia, too, is an author and has written several books about living here as an ex-pat. I had no idea how wonderful that connection would turn out to be for me. Her book, It Took a Lifetime to Get Here, is an invaluable resource for anyone considering moving to San Miguel. Beautifully written, it is chock full of interesting places and events that happen here. Any doubts I had about moving here disappeared after reading her book. Cynthia and I started up a correspendence. She read my book, As Far as the I Can See, and the blog that I had started writing, and a mutual admiration society was born between us. I couldn’t wait to meet her in person once I got here.

She was eager to see the house we had rented and came over one afternoon a couple of weeks ago for wine, some nibbles and conversation. I felt as though I’d known her a very long time, not only becaue we’d been pen pals for the last 8 months, but becuse she was so much like friends I’d known over the years—kind, bright and interested, someone with a similar background and interests. That evening Jack and Cynthia and I enjoyed sitting on our rooftop terrace, taking in the view and the late afternoon breeze. Last week she invited us over to see her apartment in el Centro, where she’s rented for the past 4 years. As she commented, it couldn’t be more different from our house. Ours is modern, continental in decor, with Mexican touches here and there, and several outdoor seating areas. It is a 20 minute walk from el Centro. Her apartment is an old Mexican house that has been renovated, but still maintains a very Mexican character, and is smack dab in the middle of everything, directly in front of the entrance to the Mercado Artesanias. A wonderful thing about San Miguel de Allende is that there are so many interesting colonias, or neighborhoods, to choose from when considering where to live. Cynthia and I both have chosen the perfect spot for ourselves. I like the quiet. She enjoys the activity of el Centro.

The night I went to her house for pizza and wine, Jack was busy watching the Yankees play the Red Sox in a double-header on tv, so he didn’t join us. I was just as happy to spend some time in the company of another woman. Cynthia says she spends most of her time with other women in San Miguel as the husbands or male partners of the women she knows have either died or moved back to the States after divorce. The single women are active, lively, interesting.

There is such a feeling of cameraderie here, starting with an online group for ex-pats. Members, both men and women, answer any question that is posed, as someone always seems to know where to go or what to do, where to shop and where to go for upcoming events. It’s such a helpful resource. Jack has found a podiatrist from that list who was really helpful to him, and I got a referral for a masseuse who yesterday gave me the best massage of my life! Letty came to my house with her table and oils and a perfect touch. The massage lasted an hour and a half. We hadn’t discussed price before, but I assumed it would be reasonable. After she finished and I asked what she charged, she frowned worriedly and said, “600 pesos. Es ok?” 600 pesos is about $30.00. I told her I understood, but handed her 700 pesos instead. She gasped, broke into a huge grin and wrapped me in an enormous hug. Such gratitude. All because I gave her $35.00 instead of the $30.00 she asked for, when there is magic in her hands, and that is worth much, much more.

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