When I travel, I always find it interesting to compare the place I am visiting to the place where I live… The first time I visited San Miguel in 2007, I felt that I had found a completely different city to Mérida and I still feel that way.
Starting with the climate; San Miguel’s is temperate. The winters are a little cold for my taste and the night-time single Centigrade digits had my bones aching, my feet and the tip of my nose feeling numb, and my teeth chattering. This of course rarely occurs in Mérida where a slight sheen of perspiration is almost always present under one’s upper lip and “older adult” joints don’t get all seized-up in the warm, humid air.
The economy: In San Miguel you need a restaurant reservation – even on a Tuesday night. The quality, service and selection are excellent and many places are in close proximity of one another. I did not see any “Fridays” “Bennigans” or the like. In Merida, except for the chains, the eateries suffer terribly from lack of regular patronage and they lack a consistency of quality. Merida’s international community does a lot of home entertaining outdoors on their patios in the balmy Yucatecan evenings.
Shopping in San Miguel is a delight if you love handcrafts. There is a rich choice of tinwork, blown glass, Talavera, textiles and so on. I wished I’d had a truck to cart it all home. In Merida, the selection is limited… enough said.
The tourism infrastructure in San Miguel and Mérida is of similar quality. Good organization and frequent departures to multiple places of interest is common to both cities,
Mérida is flat as a pancake… San Miguel cannot claim very many level streets. The gardens in both cities are fabulous but I know Mérida citizens spend a lot more time watering.
The local San Miguel population is very used to foreigners and they seem to go out of their way to be helpful. In Mérida they are somewhat stand-offish at first but once they get to know you, they are very friendly. It is up to the new resident to make the first move…
San Miguel abounds with groups of volunteers helping the community and in Mérida there is also a spirit of giving. The Library in San Miguel is thriving… whereas it’s best not to dredge up Mérida’s current issues.
The preceding account might lead you to suspect that I am all set to convince Jorge to put our García Ginerés home on the market and move to San Miguel. The way I have described it, one would deduce that the mountainous enclave is a pretty fine prospect for permanent residence … and indeed it is.
But the place where one chooses to live is a very individual – sometimes inexplicable choice. I love Mérida. It is my home. I feel so lucky to be able to visit other destinations but my roots have dug deep into the peninsula’s limestone. I am an urbanite, and Mérida is a much larger city than San Miguel. Although there are many amenities in the central Mexican town, they are not big-city. There are no Mayan ruins nearby and no white sand and pounding surf lies less than an hour away.
And so it is in México… many of those who live abroad think of México as a single entity… but it is so much MORE! The diversity of this large country is amazing. I thank my lucky stars that I have the opportunity to travel and enjoy much of it.
Today, I am headed for México DF… the capital of the nation. Just 4 hours from San Miguel, I will once again be immersed in an altogether different environment. ¡Viva!
Photos: Orchids from my garden , swimming in the pool , Chichen Itza , Yucatecan children , Poster of “Lost and Found in Mexico” – an excellent film!