Sometimes I really like the Spanish language.

Take last Monday, for example. I was having my weekly Spanish lesson with my maestra Edith at the Biblioteca, and our conversation (en español, por supuesto) came around to the subject of retirement.

Edith is only forty-nine – a long way from retirement, unless she marries a rich gringo, which she has no intention of doing. She teaches all day and into the evenings every weekday. She’s indefatigable, especially now that she’s putting her son through medical school. I, on the other hand, have been retired since I moved to San Miguel de Allende going on four years ago. So I was trying to explain to Edith the joys of retirement.

But first I needed to learn the words.

In Spanish the infinitive “to retire” is jubilar, while the adjective “retired” and the noun “retiree” are the same – jubilado(a). Such joyful-sounding words — and so unlike the exhausted-sounding English word “retired.”

I looked in my fat copy of Webster’s NEW Spanish-English Dictionary (yes, I prefer to see whole, two-page spreads of words at once – entire, tightly knit neighborhoods of words — rather than isolated ones in my online Oxford dictionary), and sure enough, the Spanish words for retire, retired, and retiree were only about two millimeters away from júbilo (n.m.) – joy; and jubiloso(a) (adj.) – jubilant, joyous.

Retirement in San Miguel, I explained to Edith in Spanish, is joyous.

She wanted to know, “por qué?” (just to keep the conversation going).

I quickly gave her my personal top four reasons: Because, I said, San Miguel is so beautiful and colorful, the cost of living is far more affordable for me than in los estados unidos, the weather is sunny and agreeable year-round, and the Mexican people I meet here are invariably kind and embracing.

I left it at that.

But subsequently, I’ve thought of many more reasons why I love my retired life in San Miguel (which is the only place I’ve been retired), after a lifetime of working and supporting myself in the States.  Here are some of those reasons, which I hope WOW readers will be able to relate to – or hope for, if they’re not already jubiladas.

(stock photo)

What retiring in Mexico has meant for me:

~ Waking with the early morning light to tropical birdsong every day (instead of to a nerve-jangling alarm clock) after a good, long, night’s sleep.

~ Making my morning tea tray and bringing it back to bed, where I luxuriate in my cherished “morning ritual”: writing, reading, thinking, praying – thanking God for my many blessings.

~ No longer needing a dress-for-success wardrobe; wearing only simple, easy-going clothing that never requires costly dry-cleaning.

~ No longer needing to own a car and be burdened by all of its attendant expenses (gas, insurance, upkeep, and so on) and annoyances (traffic); instead, walking everywhere – because San Miguel is a walking city – or taking affordable city buses or ever-present taxis to get where I need to go.

~ Living with little-to-no stress, few (if any) regrets, a heart filled with gratitude, a body that still functions, and a mind still open to more and more learning.

~ Being free to be the person I feel I was meant to be and not allowing anyone to tell me otherwise — one of the overriding joys of being in one’s seventies.

~ Taking classes I’ve always wanted to take, such as painting and dancing; reading more of the books I’ve always wanted to read; being happy to be alone and quiet.

~ Giving my time and talents to the community at every opportunity, with no thought of any compensation.

This is the essence of my retirement, my jubilación. And, por supuesto, I wish the same for you.

16 thoughts on “Jubilation!”

  1. i agree and applaud totally with your reasons for loving San Miguel for retirement…I have another which i suspect you take so for granted you didn’t list it; the amazing variety and quality of friends here, open to making new friends.

    1. Thank you, dear Pat! Yes, our lists for loving our lives here can go on and on (gracias a dios). Thank you, my friend, for pointing out the “friends” factor. — xx

  2. Dear Bon,

    What a wonderful post. That Mexico values older people in a way diametrically opposed to the US is made clear by the terms each society applies to them. Your reflections make clear that perhaps an even more appropriate term would be libertad.

    This week when I went to renew my parking sticker, I was told that because I would turn 65 this year, it would be free. It was my first age-related perk, and I was delighted.


  3. Thank you Bonnie, this has been a truly wonderful time of life for me too — in ways that I could not have expected. And I finally sold the car that sits in California undriven for 45 weeks of the year.

  4. Ah, Bonnie. I can feel the joy you have found in your retirement in SMA. You are blessed – not everyone finds peace and happiness in their retirement.

    Now that Roxanne and I have received enough submissions to proceed with writing our book, Voices from the Other Side….of Retirement, we’ve decided that once we recoup our book expenses we will plan a visit to SMA as a treat to ourselves! We look forward to connecting in person some day not too far in the future….

    1. What a wonderful plan, Leslie! SMA will be here whenever you can make it down. I know you and Roxanne will love it. AND, if by then your book is already “born,” you could plan to do some readings from it here. Vamos a ver…

  5. Yes, I’m a jubilada, tambien! What a wonderful word. It has been that way for me, here in San Miguel. Just living life with enjoyment.

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