was inspired by a Gothic church pictured in a postcard. Our timing was perfect. A just-
married bride and groom came out of the church flanked by friends, family and a mariachi
band. A horse and carriage awaited the newlyweds then carried them off like Cinderella
and the Prince.
We crossed the main plaza, the Jardín, in front of La Parroquia, and stopped for lunch at
Bellas Artes. We passed by beautiful shops on Calle Zacateras, visited the Mercado and
bought Day of the Dead sugar skulls. San Miguel de Allende offers the best in folk art,
crafts, carvings, woodwork, fine art, textiles, leather, silver, and Talavera pottery. But we
only took time to peek. We saved our time for real shopping later.
The original expats, in late 1940s and early 1950s, were young, Bohemian and often stu-
dents living on the GI Bill. But the expats I met or saw on the streets, in the cafés and mar-
kets were of retirement age. They have basically created their own separate society with an
active calendar. Scottsdale South, I called it. I was curious why the current expat retirees
chose San Miguel.
"The climate," was the instant answer. I got the feeling that I wasn't the first to ask, and the
expats had agreed on this two-word answer. Low real estate taxes and cost of living would
sound unglamorous. Some answered in three words, "Sunshine and culture."
Art is the central activity. Dining and friendly conversation at Pegaso Café must also rank
highly. The Instituto Allende offers painting, photography and sculpture. One of our hosts
designs clothes and owns an elegant shop. When my daughter and I dropped into El Te-
colote (The Owl) bookstore looking for books in Spanish, the more prominently displayed
English books were on: art, garden and cooking.
Cami Sands gave me a more complete answer. "We love the weather, scenery, the compact
town, the style of 'inward houses,' the arts, restaurants and the friendliness of the Amer-
icans who live here." She also mentioned, "Our ability to impact good works via church,
Rotary and other charities," and concluded, "We like the Mexican people, their celebra-
tions, their love of children."
I spoke to Rosalia, a Mexican lady, who said there once was some resentment, but that
Mexicans are good hosts and the Americans have proved to be good guests. She said, "They
have brought in capital, and they support the community with charitable works. Expats
have caused prices to rise, but have brought employment."