Welcome to Mexico. If you’re from the United States… And you’ve never spent any real time in our beautiful country, let alone the world famous and very special San Miguel de Allende (SMA for short) … Well, hang on because this is an interesting place, full of the friendliest people you’ve ever met. I offer a few things I’ve learned over the 10 years that I’ve lived here that will help you get along in our special little town. We hope this is helpful.
The first thing to know about Mexico as a gringo is that Mexico is all about courtesy, “la cortesía”. Manners and being polite are everything in Mexico and it demonstrates respect. It’s very very important to be friendly with everyone. When people call on the phone it’s not uncommon to say how are you, how is your family? Did you do anything fun this weekend? What are your plans for today? Before you even get to the discussion at hand. And for Americans, most of us live quick lives in the United States and this kind of courtesy has been lost long ago. This is a very big deal in Mexico. And it matters here.
Secondly, just like in the US, you have big cities and you have small towns. The people that hang out, live, and work in big cities obviously are vastly different from the people that are living in small towns in the US. The same is true in Mexico. Just to put it in perspective, SMA has a population of 200,000 people. It’s roughly the size of Mission Texas! This is a small town. And you’re dealing with people that are from a small town. These are not city folks. They take their time. Things happen slowly and predictably but at a different pace than the big cities. For many people, learning to slow down and recapture that open hearted kindness is one of the real magical aspects of living in this special place.
Care of the Soul:
Thomas Moore in his landmark book, Care of The Soul suggested that there was a vernacular, a familiarity with simple places. He went on to say that the soul loves the familiar. And to slow down and be able to really get to know people is one of the great blessings of living in our beautiful town. Here you will find a town so full of unique life and color. Whether it’s the art galleries, the street artist in the park, or the impromptu concerts in Centro or one of the many fabulous restaurants. There is so much to fall in love with here. Bottom line: It is soulful here in SMA.
Third, Sundays are sacred in Mexico. Remember those old days in the US? Sundays here are days when people rest. Realtors don’t work, most of the stores are closed, many of the restaurants are closed except for during high season. But regardless this is a time for families to rest and be together in Mexico. One of the core values in Mexico is family and family connections, and nothing symbolizes this more than Sundays.
Another interesting fact that is worth noting is it’s not uncommon for professional offices to be closed from 2-4 pm most afternoons, Monday through Friday. And then open again at 4 pm and stay open till 8 or even 9 pm. This is common in small towns in Mexico. People go home, have lunch with their families and take a nap! Quality of life is everything in Mexico. And because there’s an emphasis on balance, this is more common than uncommon here in San Miguel. Interestingly, some people mistakenly assume that this is a general laziness… Nope! Mexicans are some of the hardest working people I’ve ever met. Everybody works 6 days a week here. It’s just a different schedule.
Good Food Baby!
Finally, one courtesy that you will hear if you’re in a restaurant is if somebody walks by your table and you make eye contact with them, they will often say “Buen provecho!” Often said with a smile and respectfully as you pass somebody’s table. This is a beautiful statement in Spanish, in essence means: “May your food and your meal be a blessing to your body and to all who are with you.” It’s a wonderful greeting to receive and give during meal time anywhere in Mexico. When I’m walking to the park for example in the mornings, it’s not unusual to pass workers that are having breakfast before they start work. And this is a greeting that I wish them as I pass.
These may seem like small things but for small town people these courtesies and little evidences of respect mean everything. Remember Mexico is only been free for 100 years. This country was dominated by foreigners. This is something I always try to be sensitive to as I’m interacting with folks in our beautiful little town. Like so many things in life, what we reflect and project out into the world is what we see back. And that’s exactly what you’ll find here with these friendly, warm people in San Miguel. You can check the website Visit San Miguel de Allende before you come to visit us.
My grandfather was an oil man. He was a 3rd generation Texan and my mentor growing up. One thing he taught me: “You don’t have to be the smartest guy in the room, invest the time and money in good advisors.” That advise has served me well: knowing the right people in Mexico is so important.
After spending several years buying and selling property in San Miguel de Allende as an investor, it became apparent that both International Real Estate Brands and real estate agents here play a very different role than they do in the US. In Mexico and specifically within SMA, knowledgeable and AMPI licensed real estate agents actually help hold the integrity of the transaction together. They are an important piece of the puzzle for buying property in Mexico: good advisors are key to a successful transaction. We recommend you the article Real Estate Basics in Mexico.
“Helping you is what we do!”
Thó Waring may be contacted at: Tho@thoandlucia.com