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Old and Joyous in San Miguel


By David E. Sanford


San Miguel Is My Teacher


San Miguel is a great place for an old guy. In this post, I explain what makes it so, at least for me.

San Miguel Calls Me Out

My wife and I live in the wintertime on a little street off Salida a Querétaro. Our place is wonderful for us writers—very pretty with lots of trees, flowers, and quiet. I often feel quite satisfied just being here. Then the city calls me out: “You are here to learn, old guy, and I, your city, am your teacher.”

Living here, I have learned to be adventurous in several new ways. By choice, I take the bus. The bus is almost always packed with moms and their babies, students, old folks, and some guys: lots of people, none of whom look like me.

I search people’s faces when I ride the bus. Many avoid my glance. Others look hostile. On some faces, I read possibility. I smile at those faces and usually get a smile back. Then I do eye banter with little kids and attempt to communicate with harried moms through exaggerated looks of sympathy.

I have been on a bus so crowded that I and at least four other people had to exit the bus so that an equal number of people could get on. And then we got back on too! What is San Miguel teaching me through these bus adventures of mine? I am learning how to be myself, comfortable at the edge of a tribal culture. I know a lot about being a highly-educated WASP from Maine. Now through empathy and imagination, I sense what it must be like to be first a member of a large Mexican family and second an individual. I have also learned that, while I am glad to be me, I kind of wish there was a second me that was a member of a big tribal family, who held a little kid on my lap at family gatherings—and was content.

San Miguel Teaches Me About Risk

As an old guy, I take chances with my physical well-being when I walk to and around El Centro.

I have a pair of soft, almost-moccasin shoes. I call them my “San Miguel dancing shoes.” In the presence of crowded sidewalks and in the absence of traffic lights, everything that moves here is part of one big dance! I dance on and off the sidewalk. I dance to avoid getting squashed by one of those big-elephant buses that lumbers by one foot or less from me teetering on an ancient, narrow sidewalk, which often rises and falls around tree roots.

San Miguel is teaching me to be alive under circumstances that I experience nowhere else. I am so glad to be here.

David E. Sanford is 82. His website is For 30 years, David was a relationship therapist. He is the author of five books on love, couple relationships, and marriage. David and his wife Joyce live in San Miguel in the wintertime.


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