Three & a half weeks was not nearly long enough to take in the beauty & grandeur of this quaint yet bustling town. SMA was the perfect spot to get started on this adventure, a bit of comfort in the expat community with plenty of opportunities to learn how things work & gain the courage to use & improve our Spanish skills.
We arrived near the end of October 2022 because I specifically wanted to enjoy the Dia de los Muertos celebrations & although SMA is not the top place for the spectacle, it was everything I had hoped & imagined. It was a week long celebration where the city transformed into an even more colorful site, with its shop doorways adorned with iconic yellow marigolds, calaveras & catrinas 💀
I am sure Dia de los Muertos deserves an entire post & I may circle back to it one day but that is not today, so on we go…
SMA is an incredibly walkable town, so that is what we did, we walked, we walked a lot. Our first Monday was my day to venture out solo & move things along as though this is where we lived. First stop, a bank to exchange our American $$$ into Pesos. A young man directed me down a few blocks (in Spanish) I decided to pause on a bench in the jardin as not to look like a total tourist scanning my google maps. Per Samantha Brown’s advise, I struck up a conversation with two American looking folks, Oklahoma it turns out. Your man directed me to a currency exchange app & then on to the exchange bank, one block down on the left. Dollars exchanged 19 to 1, the best we would do over the entirety of our MX adventures.
Second stop, the INM, or Instituto Nacional de Migración. San Miguel is a relatively small city, so by the time I was to the bank, I was a quarter way to the immigration office, so I decided to continue, 2km mas o menos. Arriving at the immigration office is when the real fun began. I realized I didn’t have a mask, which apparently was still a thing. I scanned the .gov QR code, which translated itself into English & was still not clear. 🤣 A women came out & asked me what I needed, I said the form to get my residency card as l already had my temporary visa & an appointment for finalization (all this in my ridiculous Spanish) She invited me in to the office & took my passport. I was still trying to make sense of the translated website & asked her if she spoke English, but not before apologizing for my subpar Spanish 😬 she said no, then added, “no more English.” Long story longer, I got outta there with 2 appointments, one for me & one for Dave. Will that be it? Who knows? Information is not super forth coming here. Would it be better if I were more fluent in the language, ABSOLUTELY!!
I would later learn that showing up & asking for help & actually getting it, doesn’t generally happen. We would also begin to realize the temporary visas were probably not something we necessarily needed to do as it began to be more of a time & money sink than was necessary but as with any adventures there is much learning along the way. You may notice that becoming a theme here, rest assured there are going to be many more opportunities for flexibility & learning at every turn!