On the Road Home

View from upper deck of ETN bus from Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende
View from upper deck of ETN bus from Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende

What a surprise! The bus I took back to San Miguel de Allende from Mexico City last week, on the last leg of my long journey home from New York, turned out to be the most modern, clean, large, luxurious bus I’d ever ridden in. It was a veritable luxury-liner of a bus – double-decker (but not open at the top, like New York’s tourist buses) and outfitted like the first-class section of an airplane, with cushy, wide, La-Z-Boy-like reclining seats, head sets, wi-fi, TV, you name it.

ETN bus upper deck interior view
ETN bus upper deck interior view

Before I boarded and took the seat I’d chosen (No. 1, directly above the driver down below), offering a panoramic view of the road ahead and the countryside on both sides, feeling weary, hungry, and more than a little delirious from being in transit for nearly twenty-four hours without sleep, I was handed a bag containing my choice of bottled beverage (water) and a big, beautiful, fat empanada stuffed with a tasty meat filling. That certainly perked me up.

The biggest surprise of all for me was that this four-hour “luxury cruise” bus trip cost me — thanks to my “senior discount” card, available to every citizen and legal resident of Mexico over the age of 60 — only 242 pesos, or, by today’s exchange rate, $13. Only thirteen dollars! An equivalent bus trip in the U.S., let’s say from New York to Washington, D.C., would cost nearly five times as much, and the buses would likely not be as comfy.

A view of the countryside from the upper deck
A view of the countryside from the upper deck

Mexico, I’m finding, is full of such surprises.

“Home,” Robert Frost said, “is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” My more prosaic take on this sentiment today, as a retired person, is that home is the place where you can afford to live happily. For me, here and now, that place is Mexico.

As much as I love New York and I enjoyed my recent visit there (see previous WOW post); and as much as I loved living in enchanted northern New Mexico for nearly fifteen years until retiring to “old” Mexico last December, I find the cost of living in the U.S. too high for my now-fixed income.

The price of just about everything in New York, I saw last week, was at least five times more than it would be here in Mexico. It was clear to me I couldn’t afford to live there now. The truth, it seems to me, is that the U.S. is a magnificent country to live in if you have sufficient money to live comfortably; but if you don’t, it’s not.

Especially when you’re old. As Tennessee Williams is said to have said: “You can be young without money, but you can’t be old without it.”

I read the other day that the annual Expat Insider survey by InterNations, a network and guide for expatriates, found that 91 percent of expats in Mexico are generally satisfied with life: “For the third year in a row Mexico placed first for ease of settling in, and also scored well in subcategories such as Finding Friends, where it came first, and Feeling Welcome, placing second.” Expats in Mexico were happier, too, about finances and the cost of living. “Mexico ranks eighth and fifth respectively on the Personal Finance and Cost of Living indexes and its expats are twice as likely to say they are completely satisfied with their financial situation.”

One of the benefits, I think, of having served in the Peace Corps somewhere in the back of beyond is that you emerge from the experience feeling at home just about anywhere in the world. Right now I call San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, home. I am deeply grateful for its warmth, beauty, hospitality, and, gracias a dios, affordability.

Riding into the sunset on the road home
Riding into the sunset on the road home



18 thoughts on “On the Road Home”

  1. Bienvenidos Dear Bonnie! Welcome back (home) Yes…Mexico is so much more affordable than the US…all true. But for so many of us it is the friendships, the opportunity to continue being useful after a lifetime of experience, and the warm embrace of a culture that welcomes us. Careful though…your wonderful description of life here might cause a tsunami of Americans disenchanted with life in the “promised land”. Streets paved with gold? That is only found right here. XXXX Pamela

    1. Yes, you’re so right, Pamela — “the warm embrace.” And, yes, especially if Trump is elected (god forbid), there just might be a tsunami of American emigres headed this way!

  2. Bonnie, Yes, I finally got to ride in one of the double deckers with my Mum last week. What a difference in comfort when you are so far up from the road and all the pot holes. Next time I’ll pick one of those seats in the front row like you did. It’s a long ride for a 92 year old woman like my mum but she was so pleased that when she arrived here she made a point of going up and thanking the driver and again when I took her back to Mexico City. Nice description of your life here. Thank you.

  3. Everything about this makes me happy. I’m so honored to have been part of your journey and delighted to know your return was lined with luxury. xo

  4. Obviously you were on a new ETN bus, but the old ones are equally comfortable. It is so easy to travel everywhere in Mexico by bus – even when they are not the executivo buses!
    Until the last 10 years most people did travel that way as most did not have cars. That, of course, is changing now.

    1. I LOVE the fact that it’s not necessary to own a car here, Babs, as it is in most places in the States. For distances, the bus system is marvellous! And in town, I walk everywhere.

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