How are expats coping with the virus in San Miguel de Allende? Well, human nature is endlessly fascinating and, given the pandemic, it has been interesting witnessing the local expat community’s response to the situation compared with Mexicans.
Mexicans in San Miguel de Allende run the gamut from my dancing pals who haven’t left their houses since day one and others who don’t think the virus even exists. Naturally, most fall in between with the desire for safety weighed against the need to support the family.
At the start of the epidemic I offered to pay the Mexican brother and sister who help me some mornings each week. They’ve been with me for years and know me well enough to know I’m good for it, unlike many other Mexican employees let go by local expats. Many expats will claim on social media that they are paying their employees during this time. However, I’ve yet to meet a Mexican employed by an expat who can back up that claim.
My sibling team asked me to allow them to keep working because my house was quiet and calm compared to their home, which was crowded with relatives out of work. Growing up in a large, Irish Catholic family I understood that desire for moments of peace.
Expats, mostly assured of a steady payment of a pension and/or social security, are motivated differently.
My Louisiana neighbor locked her door with the arrival of the virus only opening it for home deliveries and great travel deals. She’ll head off anywhere and anytime if the airfare is auspicious.
A buff Toronto pal locked his home to all and only left to take his dog out, until the gyms opened back up, then he was front and center, first in line. His rationale was being at a gym made him happy in ways nothing else did.
Another had used the time to set-up a food bank for his neighborhood. Always an advocate of reaching out to help directly, I applauded his efforts. He stated it wasn’t just because feeding others is the right thing to do, it was also an insurance of sorts. Hungry people break in looking for food, or things that can be sold for food, in ways those with full tummies aren’t motivated towards.
I also had no clue how many expats had no clue how to cook, and based their entire existence on when, what and with whom their next meal was coming. As one stated: “I love a great kitchen to leave the light on, when I go out to eat.”
Across social media requests for who delivered, who was open, who had outdoor seating and such flooded the Internet. Not just simply curious requests but desperate pleas on where their next meal would come from.
I had assumed folks that didn’t learn to cook in their childhood learned by experience. Like cleaning, it simply isn’t that hard of a skill to master to a survival level. I was wrong. Expats are frantic to have someone cook for them!
In real estate news, some expats I’ve met have flocked to San Miguel during the virus as long-term rentals have become plentiful and at a fraction of the previous cost.
Then there are the expats who planned on spending a month or so in San Miguel before test driving other cities for retirement, only to find themselves stuck here. They, like many permanent residents, have joined me on free hiking tours around town in recent weeks, if only to get out of the house for a bit.
My weakness I thought would be dancing, as I do miss it so and it always puts me in a great mood. I’ve avoided dancing with anyone but my dog (and he only likes rhumbas), but miss my family so. My kids are all fine and dandy while approaching thirty and avoiding the pesky issue of making me a grandfather. It’s my siblings that concern me and I’m going against all advice to the contrary to visit them.
We all have our weaknesses and I learned long ago it is best to acknowledge and accommodate them before their presence blows up in our faces!