San Miguel de Allende: A Home Away from Home for Atlantans
It’s no wonder why San Miguel de Allende has been coined one of the best cities in Mexico. The second your feet touch the cobblestone ground, you get a whiff of fresh baked bread & elote, and hear the ringing voices of the local Mariachi bands — it all makes sense.
When I told Maria Saporta I was making the trek to San Miguel de Allende, she told me she had a few friends who, like the other 10 percent of the San Miguel population, were ex-pats who now call the beautiful art-filled city their home. I had the honor of connecting with Carol Jackson and Paula Peace over a cup of coffee in a quaint café. Both Carol and Paula used to be local to Atlanta and still hold strong ties to the states, but have fallen in love with SMA.
Carol Jackson, former executive vice president of Atlanta Federal Home Loan Bank, now serves the SMA community by fundraising for local non-profits. She plays an integral part of 100 Women Who Care which meets quarterly to focus on fast fundraising for the people of SMA and beyond. Each member is required to bring 1000 pesos (two Fridas!) to each meeting, the members then make five-minute presentations about a non-profit organization they believe could benefit from receiving the funds raised by the meeting. The members vote by ballot, and within an hour, around 100,000 pesos are raised. Carol also recently hosted a dinner to benefit Jovenes Adelante which selects first-generation students from Mexico to go to college and provides the financial support to do so.
Paula Peace, former co-founding Artistic Director of the Atlanta Chamber Players, started a women’s group named Mis Hermanas (My Sisters). The group is comprised of 10 members of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of San Miguel de Allende, with ages ranging from 65 to 82.
“We launched in May 2019 and have been meeting for two hours each Wednesday afternoon ever since. During COVID we switched to Zoom and found it easy to stay connected. We share our memories and dreams and laugh about our first bras and cry about our parents’ deaths. During our years together one of our “sisters” has died of cancer, one has been ordained as a Buddhist priest, and two of us have lost her husband. We didn’t pick each other to be in the group and have experienced a great lesson about love crossing all differences when you open your heart”, Paula shares. Mis Hermanas was the first women’s group and there are now a total of four in the UU Fellowship.
It seems that part of the reason Atlantans feel so at home in San Miguel de Allende is the hospitality that radiates through the community, similar to what we feel being raised in the South back home. Everyone is accepting of one another and no one is in a hurry. There exists a hustle and bustle minus the tension and stress. Maybe it’s the fact that the city is built on a bedrock of rose quartz, that draws healers, artists, writers, and many other types of people to the city.
It felt impossible to be the slightest bit sad in a place like San Miguel de Allende. It felt equally impossible to run out of restaurants to eat at, architecture to admire, cocktails to sip on in the rooftop sun, and stories to hear from all walks of life whose paths end up magically finding their way across each other in this radiant, star-lit city.
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