Monday, December 31, 2012

Ex-Pats, Who Do We Think We Are?

A debate goes on in San Miguel de Allende about whether a McDonald's should be built.  A group of ex-pats there seem to think it is their duty to boycott or ban the restaurant chain or keep it from coming to the city.  Hmmm.
I ask you, "who do we think we are?"  We can move into someone else's country and dictate what should or shouldn't be allowed.  Funny, a Starbuck's sits on the corner of the "jardin" or main square and it is packed with Mexicans.  It appears Mexicans seem to prefer to have a Starbuck's in "their town". 
We love San Miguel de Allende and visit at least four times a year.  In fact, we love it so much that we would like to someday buy some land in Guanajuato.  We couldn't live in San Miguel because there are just too many ex-pats who seem to want to strut their stuff around the city.  
Just to give you an idea of how life is there, and please take this with a grain of salt for those who live there and enjoy the city and culture for what it is, Americans move there and then complain about why they can't sell english muffins at the local Mega store.  We have many friends who live in SMA and we respect their views and don't seem to fall into the category above.
There has also been recent talk about banning the local cable company because they no longer offer a PBS feed.  Can you imagine?  In case you don't quite get my view on all this let me give an example of a typical person living in SMA.  (I'm going to get slaughtered on this one).
Tall, white, silver dyed hair with bangs and medium length hair that is swept under, a big floppy hat, black slacks with wide bell bottoms,  carrying a "red de plastico" (plaid tote bag for groceries) a Spanish book in one hand, and some type of cape.   If you go into the local Mega, there is a lot of pointing going on and scowling because the employees don't speak English.  Funny though, there are quite a few French and Russian classes going on instead of focusing on the native language of the country.
Some there seem to think that they make the economy.  In reality that just isn't so.  As I have found out recently, due to changes in Mexican immigration laws and the new income requirements, many ex-pats are pretty much living on the low in Mexico because their incomes just won't make it in their home countries.  Sure, there are all kinds of stories and there is nothing wrong with having a low income but don't tell me that if it weren't for "us" SMA wouldn't survive.  
Remember this, we live in Mexico and we are guests.  If you want the right to vote and change things, become a Mexican.  Now you might say that in the U.S. everyone, legal, illegal, resident, etc. seems to have a voice that is very true.  Go live there, but this is Mexico.  Mexicans want what everyone else in the world would like to have; a home, a good job, flat screen television, a car, well you get the point.  To do this, they need jobs.  If you expect Mexicans in SMA to continue to carry baskets on their heads and clean your houses for 50 pesos a day you have it all wrong.  There is a strong and growing economy and Mexicans are part of it.  With or without us, Mexico and SMA will survive.  


  1. Back in 2008 when we explored SMA for the first time, we went for a walk on the streets surrounding the jardine. We found a "For Sale" sign in front of a nice two story house. They were having an open house so we went in. We were greeted by an American real estate salesman who showed us around. It was a very nice house with lots of tile, wood and brick. The price was 1.2 million US dollars.

    1.2 million US dollars is 15.6 million pesos. Is this something the average Mexican resident of SMA could afford? No, not many Mexicans outside of the drug trade have this kind of money available. What these cape clad foreigners have done is to take this lovely corner of Mexico away from the Mexican people by pricing them out of the market.

  2. There is a McDonalds in SMA - up by the movie complex and the Radio Shack and Liverpool store - isn't there a Subway up there too? Soriana? But it is a very small storefront McD so maybe they want to build a big one?

    Back around 1960 my aunt & uncle bought a house on Recreo near the bull ring for about $1,200US. Back then there weren't a whole lot of Americans in SMA - not that many Mexicans either - but the art schools were going strong.

    In 1971 my aunt had a maid she paid about $5US a week for a 6 day 8 hour a day week. I asked why. Because that is the going rate the Mexicans pay so we Americans cannot pay more or the Mexicans will not be able to afford to have maids. I do not know if that is right or wrong.

    You can still get bargains in SMA but not many. We know of good Mexican restaurants where we don't break the bank to eat out - but they are not in Centro. About 20 miles from SMA is Dolores Hidalgo where they have Talavera pottery factories and we can pick up mugs and bowls and dishes for next to nothing - but in the stores in SMA we see the exact same items for up to 10 times as much and the Americans pay those prices because they do not know they can drive 20 miles for a better selection and better prices.

    I do not know what any of this means. My aunts house on Recreo she paid $1,200 for around 1960 is said to be worth a million today. We visited the house and the new owner last year and I could not find any changes from my first visit in 1971. It may not have been fair to pay the maid $5 a week but it is also not fair to raise prices so high the local people cannot afford to live there....Brian (don't have an ID)

  3. I would prefer that we keep our American values in the U.S. and grab onto the Mexican values.

  4. Our favourite thing about Mexico is doing things the Mexican way. We would prefer not to go to the 'chains' but we also understand that that is what Mexicans want - some of them anyway. We are here to enjoy the people, their land and their customs - they are doing just fine on their own!

  5. Chris, I couldn't agree with you more.
    See my blog from almost 3 years ago, I'm sure it's even worse now.

  6. My grandparents used to have a house in SMA. I would LOVE to take our trailer there some day. Where do you camp when you're in San Miguel?