By Natalie Taylor
The first time Jo Cartright came to San Miguel was over 26 years ago. Her brother had read about the city and wanted to see it; so they traveled together. Jo fell in love with the city right away, so much so that a year later they came back again as a family, this time bringing their parents to experience it. They again enjoyed their stay, the beautiful rental house, and sightseeing in and around the city. Then they returned to Texas and life went on for another two decades.
In 2015 Jo’s father died, and then her mother shortly after. These changes prompted Jo to consider retirement from a long career in the building industry. She had visited other areas of Mexico, including several cities along the two coasts. But as lovely as beach towns are, Jo realized that she would be bored to death living in such a community because they have little culture. Her love of art brought back memories of San Miguel de Allende and all the art galleries, art exhibits, and classes available. After so many years the city was calling out to her once again. She sold her house and furniture and packed up her mementos and artwork. In June of 2017 her brother drove her down with a car filled with the numerous boxes. After the move, her brother returned to Dallas where he continues to live to this day.
The place Jo found on Quebrada Street is a small enclave of apartments with garden areas between them. Her apartment is filled with colorful art on the walls, Mexican rugs, and multi-colored ceramics. All the residents around her are single women, as she is, and Jo says it feels like living in a sorority house. There is camaraderie and trust that comes with living in close proximity and yet each of them has a private space and they respect it. But you can always call across the yard to ask for a cup of sugar, to chat, or to get serious help when the need comes. One of the “sisters” will be sure to respond.
Since her move to San Miguel, Jo has taken painting classes, expanded her art collection, plays regularly with a mahjong group, and is busy studying Spanish with a tutor who comes twice a week. She loves the friendliness of people here, their willingness to help, and repays in kind with volunteer work as part of Mujeres en Cambio and other venues. Something else she appreciates is the ease of making friends here. You can address a stranger on the street or start a conversation with someone at a restaurant, and none will look at you askance because this is the norm in San Miguel. One of her friends has a saying: “If you live in San Miguel and you don’t make a best friend every day, you are not doing your job.” Good advice for anyone for a rich and joyful life.