Because the house is at the end of the street, which is at the bottom of the hill, every time I go out I have to climb uphill. At 6500 feet high, the walk up is difficult. So I think about it twice before venturing out of the house. If there is a sidewalk, it is easier but walking on the rough, uneven cobblestones can be trying. Sprained ankles are not uncommon. Your foot slips over a stone and - twist! - there goes the foot. One of the facts of life in SMA.
Another fact of life is that you cannot drink the water from the faucet. Some people don't even cook with it or make coffee or brush their teeth. I take my chances with that stuff. I just don't drink it. The landlady provides us with enormous bottles of Santorini water. They are big and very heavy. Hauling them upstairs can be dangerous. Yesterday, David had to bring one up and he was out of breath; then, turning it upside down and sticking it into the tiny mouth of the ceramic jar proved difficult: spilled water all over the floor. But, eventually, he managed to get it in. Mop the floor, dry the counter, water's ready for drinking.
All fruits and vegetables have to be "microdyned," especially lettuce, tomatoes, and anything you eat raw and don't peel. Microdyne is a tincture: 8 drops in a liter of water, leave food for 10 minutes, take it out, ready to eat. You can use the same liquid for about a week before making a new batch. It is a yellowy mixture, not very attractive, but many people swear by it. Again, some people don't do any of that; but then, many others do. Our downstairs neighbor gave us her tiny bottle and now we have a bucket with the liquid on our counter. David washed tomatoes and apricots the other day. We haven't had any lettuce except for last night, when we went to a friend's house for dinner. They microdyne everything. It was fun to eat lettuce again after two weeks.
Because there is no central heating and the house is made of stone and tile, mornings can be very cold. When I get up, I put on pants, wool sweater, and a robe over my nightgown. And I wear my socks and shoes. During the day the house warms up quite a bit since the sun shines on it and in it; this way, evenings are not as cold as mornings. There is an electric fireplace in the living-room which I turn on sometimes while we watch television before going to bed.
For all the North Americans who live here year-round, these are small prices to pay. They love it. They wouldn't think of leaving. Crime is very low. Weather is sunny and warm most of the time. There are plenty of cultural activities to keep you engaged and entertained. Cost of living is low. There are no traffic jams. (There are no streetlights.) Life is easy.
San Miguel is a UNESCO Heritage Site and, as such, it is kept as a colonial city. The center of town offers small shops and cafes and restaurants. There is only one Starbucks and it is very inconspicuous. McDonald's has requested permission to open over the years but has been refused continually. There are few malls but they are outside the downtown. "Conde-Nast named San Miguel de Allende the best city in the world last year," told us our friend Marty who has lived here for the last few years. I don't know about that.