I see that I have neglected to blog for several weeks. The reason is that I have settled into a routine these days and work at my computer more than I circulate around town, so I have very little to report on this blog about the exciting adventures I’m having. I do miss the”Action” and realize that I am guilty of all the things I’m about to vent upon, here in my newly-resumed, Expat traveling life. But, living this way, I know that I’m behaving very Gringo and I look forward to the time that I can relax back from that.
When I arrived in this lovely Colonial Mexican mountain town of San Miguel de Allende, I stayed in a lovely new hostel and truly enjoyed the friendly ambiance of a changing company of travelers to get acquainted with. However, I intended to stay several months and soon found Sassha Lambert, formerly of the Seattle area, who was looking for a roommate. We easily became new best friends in a fancy, gated community, an easy walk from the center of town. I had many lovely days getting acquainted with this charming city and with a few of the other Expats as I met them in the cafe hangout within the Biblioteca: the Library, or at various public meetings, theaters, and programs, such as Open Mike Night.
However, my suitcase was made heavy with eight looseleaf or composition books which have served as my journals over the past year-and-a-half. These have accumulated while I postponed the inevitable secretarial attention they needed to reduce them to typed, electronic copies. Previous efforts along these lines have produced my four published books and I never know what’s hidden in my pages of hastily-scribbled or deeply-pondered life revelations. So, every few years, I must become a hermit to find out.
Well, Christmas is coming and December became the natural month for Sassha to fly north to visit her family, leaving me the whole apartment to set up shop in and to spend six-to-eight hours a day, typing away. I’m dispatching these babies at the rate of one journal every three or four days. That’s fast, let me tell you! It amounts to making a full-time job out of holing up in this apartment and taking a lunch break for errands or cafe meals. I figure I’ll be finished by the time Sassha returns in three weeks.
Of course, this sudden drop in my social life…. such as it was, or could be….. has left me analyzing the state of affairs as a foreigner, surrounded by thousands of other English-speakers, most of whom are strangers to me. Theoretically, out of our native land, we would joyfully greet each other and trade our most intimate information on first meeting, simply because we’re all in the same boat. This is sort of an expansion on the philosophy behind hostel sociability. Nobody’s a stranger!
I like that and my first expat experience in Montevideo, Uruguay, did not disappoint. It’s a small country, with a small and modern capital city and a correspondingly small expat community. Plus, we had an energetic local organizer, Sonia Duarte, whose contribution I couldn’t then appreciate; but do now. She was young and beautiful, with two small sons, but she was very involved in our lives and plans for meeting for lunches and other events. I never found that level of participation in either Cuenca, Ecuador or Cusco, Peru or here in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. And I can now realize what a blessing she is.
Being so close to the United States, this city naturally has a huge Expat community and they accomplish many good things in charitable activities to benefit women and children, therefore giving them plenty of time to meet for sponsoring and volunteering together and in the community. But, it’s probably best to be a long-term expat to do that, and I will soon be moving on. I also understand there’s a regular lady’s luncheon which I really must look into, just to become more pro-active in making friends around here.
However, I have lived most of my life in Florida and have watched the regular Snowbirds come and go. Even though, they were part-time, once they had settled into their condo, they had the same, clubby characteristics that all of us do in the States. Frequently, we don’t even know our neighbors if they live a few houses down, rather than right next door. We drive everywhere and closet ourselves into hermetically-sealed houses, with thousands of us living in a subdivision and yet, never speaking to each other.
This is the exact same situation in this fancy, gated community I’m living in right now. We are all hiding behind doors. How many sit compulsively at their computers all day with our minds far away, corresponding with friends and relative we’ve left behind? Or in my case, re-experiencing moments with those I may have met on the travel trail many months ago, through a long-forgotten but nicely-journaled event? And, in the evenings, everyone is better informed about TV contestants on The Voice, than they are about what happens right here in this Mexican town.
I think that everyone is truly friendly and would be willing to stop and chat, but things work against that. We have no mingling place, no reason to gather when there’s time to linger. If we pass each other out doors, we have a mission or a timeframe and simply smile and continue on; or exchange names and hometowns and say goodbye. It’s the same as our life in the States, replicated here. We’re simply Snowbirds and not exactly Expats.
I guess the bottom line is that I’m lonely in my dedicated Writer’s Life. This too, shall pass!