Tag Archives: Retiring in San Miguel de Allende – Mexico


This is something of a love song. Not romantic but nonetheless meaningful. Not from the libido but from the heart.

From time to time in the eight years I’ve lived as a retiree/émigré in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, I’ve met young Mexican men who’ve had a lasting effect on me. A few of them in recent months have stood out and warrant special recognition. They are: Gabriel, the owner/builder of my new apartment; Orlando, the carpenter who made my new dining room table; Jesus, the manager of the storage company where I kept my belongings before moving into this apartment; and Pablo, the computer wizard who’s guided me through several technological thickets in recent weeks.

What these young men have in common, in my view – other than being young, handsome, intelligent, hard-working, kind-hearted, good-natured and supremely patient – has been this: their acknowledgment of others’ humanity. And by “others” I mean the group I belong to, my cohort – older, single, American women – the group that has felt, due to rampant ageism and sexism in the U.S., utterly invisible there and has, for many reasons, decided to live here.

To these younger Mexican men we older gringas are not invisible. In my experience they seem to look at us with a kind of awe or wonder – as if they can’t imagine their own madres (mothers) or abuelas (grandmothers) going off to live in another country on their own and trying to navigate a new life in a language that’s foreign to them.

When I was young and living in the States, I observed that young American men tend to fall over themselves to help a pretty little damsel in distress. But that impulse appears to fade as that damsel ages. Older women in the U.S. are too often negated, sidelined, ignored, or treated as has-beens. We are no longer seen.

That doesn’t seem to be the case with Mexican men, I’ve found. The gallant young Mexican men I’ve dealt with strive to do all in their power to ease our (that is to say, older, single, women’s) path. It’s been astonishing to me, really, to be the beneficiary of their kindness, patience, and attentiveness.

Gabriel, my dueño (landlord), couldn’t be more thoughtful, helpful, and accommodating. He tells me frequently that it makes him happy to make me happy; and, since I am very happy here, I always see him smiling.

Orlando, the carpenter who made my beloved new dining room table, put so much loving care into its making I can not only see it, I can feel it every time I serve a meal on it.

Gabriel (left) and Orlando with my new table, the day Orlando delivered it to my new apartment in March

Jesus (aptly named because he’s the most Christlike young man I’ve ever met) and I became friendly when I chose his storage company and often lingered in his office when I brought more items to my unit. His warmth and smile made me feel welcome, and he enjoyed practicing his English with me. He shared with me photos of his family and showed me his newest taekwondo award. He told me repeatedly, “I am always at your service, Bonnie,” and we’ve stayed in touch on WhatsApp.

Jesus displaying his newest taekwondo badge

Pablo is a computer whiz who looks to me like an Inca warrior. His gift, in my view, is understanding that some of us in my cohort just don’t “get” computer technology. So he goes out of his way to patiently explain, soothe and guide. Instead of making me feel hopelessly stupid – as other computer experts have excelled at doing – Pablo manages to normalize my inability to grasp this stuff. “We all have different talents,” he says consolingly.

I don’t have a photo of Pablo, so this statue of an Inca warrior from Getty Images will have to do. Imagine, though, that the shield is a computer laptop.

Madres, and, by extension, abuelas, are deeply revered in Mexican culture, as we all were reminded last week on May 10th, the fixed date of Mexico’s annual Mothers’ Day. From what I’ve experienced with these particular young men, though, the mothers don’t necessarily have to be their own. Perhaps I’m imagining things, but I think I see in their eyes when they look at me a kind of rare, sweet, innocent-little-boy admiration. Or you might call it love. And it’s of this that I’m singing.

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