Sometimes I really like the Spanish language.
Take last Monday, for example. I was having my weekly Spanish lesson with my maestra Edith at the Biblioteca, and our conversation (en español, por supuesto) came around to the subject of retirement.
Edith is only forty-nine – a long way from retirement, unless she marries a rich gringo, which she has no intention of doing. She teaches all day and into the evenings every weekday. She’s indefatigable, especially now that she’s putting her son through medical school. I, on the other hand, have been retired since I moved to San Miguel de Allende going on four years ago. So I was trying to explain to Edith the joys of retirement.
But first I needed to learn the words.
In Spanish the infinitive “to retire” is jubilar, while the adjective “retired” and the noun “retiree” are the same – jubilado(a). Such joyful-sounding words — and so unlike the exhausted-sounding English word “retired.”
I looked in my fat copy of Webster’s NEW Spanish-English Dictionary (yes, I prefer to see whole, two-page spreads of words at once – entire, tightly knit neighborhoods of words — rather than isolated ones in my online Oxford dictionary), and sure enough, the Spanish words for retire, retired, and retiree were only about two millimeters away from júbilo (n.m.) – joy; and jubiloso(a) (adj.) – jubilant, joyous.
Retirement in San Miguel, I explained to Edith in Spanish, is joyous.
She wanted to know, “por qué?” (just to keep the conversation going).
I quickly gave her my personal top four reasons: Because, I said, San Miguel is so beautiful and colorful, the cost of living is far more affordable for me than in los estados unidos, the weather is sunny and agreeable year-round, and the Mexican people I meet here are invariably kind and embracing.
I left it at that.
But subsequently, I’ve thought of many more reasons why I love my retired life in San Miguel (which is the only place I’ve been retired), after a lifetime of working and supporting myself in the States. Here are some of those reasons, which I hope WOW readers will be able to relate to – or hope for, if they’re not already jubiladas.
What retiring in Mexico has meant for me:
~ Waking with the early morning light to tropical birdsong every day (instead of to a nerve-jangling alarm clock) after a good, long, night’s sleep.
~ Making my morning tea tray and bringing it back to bed, where I luxuriate in my cherished “morning ritual”: writing, reading, thinking, praying – thanking God for my many blessings.
~ No longer needing a dress-for-success wardrobe; wearing only simple, easy-going clothing that never requires costly dry-cleaning.
~ No longer needing to own a car and be burdened by all of its attendant expenses (gas, insurance, upkeep, and so on) and annoyances (traffic); instead, walking everywhere – because San Miguel is a walking city – or taking affordable city buses or ever-present taxis to get where I need to go.
~ Living with little-to-no stress, few (if any) regrets, a heart filled with gratitude, a body that still functions, and a mind still open to more and more learning.
~ Being free to be the person I feel I was meant to be and not allowing anyone to tell me otherwise — one of the overriding joys of being in one’s seventies.
~ Taking classes I’ve always wanted to take, such as painting and dancing; reading more of the books I’ve always wanted to read; being happy to be alone and quiet.
~ Giving my time and talents to the community at every opportunity, with no thought of any compensation.
This is the essence of my retirement, my jubilación. And, por supuesto, I wish the same for you.