Travels With Jim and Rita

Episode 21 - Adventures of Relocation and Community in San Miguel de Allende

June 07, 2024 Jim Santos, travel writer and host of the International Living Podcast Season 1 Episode 21
Episode 21 - Adventures of Relocation and Community in San Miguel de Allende
Travels With Jim and Rita
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Travels With Jim and Rita
Episode 21 - Adventures of Relocation and Community in San Miguel de Allende
Jun 07, 2024 Season 1 Episode 21
Jim Santos, travel writer and host of the International Living Podcast

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Ever wondered how relocating to a new country could transform your life and open up new horizons for your family? Join us as we recount our chaotic yet exhilarating journey from Mexico to Knoxville, marred by flight delays and lost luggage but enriched by an illuminating interview with Michelle Wedderburn from San Miguel de Allende. Michelle, a visionary healer and community builder, shares her incredible story of moving to Mexico to give her son a multicultural upbringing and a global perspective. Her experiences and insights are not to be missed!

In this episode, we also dive into the nitty-gritty of establishing Casa Elm in San Miguel. From collaborating with local artisans to outfitting the space with handpicked furniture, we bring you along for the ride of creating a welcoming home that doubles as a hub for newcomers. Learn about the amenities and specialized tours that Casa Elm offers, designed to ease the transition for those considering a move to this vibrant community. Plus, discover how this move has positively impacted my son, who has found freedom and joy in a play-based learning environment. Whether you're contemplating relocation or just curious about life in San Miguel, this episode promises to be an eye-opener.

Important Links from today's podcast:

https://www.casaelm.com
info@casaelm.com

Support the Show.

https://www.buzzsprout.com/2292506/supporters/new
https://www.jimsantosbooks.com
http://jimsantos.net
https://www.youtube.com/@jimsantos508
jim@jimsantosbooks.com

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Ever wondered how relocating to a new country could transform your life and open up new horizons for your family? Join us as we recount our chaotic yet exhilarating journey from Mexico to Knoxville, marred by flight delays and lost luggage but enriched by an illuminating interview with Michelle Wedderburn from San Miguel de Allende. Michelle, a visionary healer and community builder, shares her incredible story of moving to Mexico to give her son a multicultural upbringing and a global perspective. Her experiences and insights are not to be missed!

In this episode, we also dive into the nitty-gritty of establishing Casa Elm in San Miguel. From collaborating with local artisans to outfitting the space with handpicked furniture, we bring you along for the ride of creating a welcoming home that doubles as a hub for newcomers. Learn about the amenities and specialized tours that Casa Elm offers, designed to ease the transition for those considering a move to this vibrant community. Plus, discover how this move has positively impacted my son, who has found freedom and joy in a play-based learning environment. Whether you're contemplating relocation or just curious about life in San Miguel, this episode promises to be an eye-opener.

Important Links from today's podcast:

https://www.casaelm.com
info@casaelm.com

Support the Show.

https://www.buzzsprout.com/2292506/supporters/new
https://www.jimsantosbooks.com
http://jimsantos.net
https://www.youtube.com/@jimsantos508
jim@jimsantosbooks.com

Jim Santos:

Welcome to Travels with Jim and Rita. With Jim and Rita. I'm your host, jim Santos, and in this podcast series you can follow along as my wife Rita and I work out our crazy plan to outfox the real estate market in the US and actually increase our retirement nest egg by spending the next three years or so living abroad and exploring the world. Are we bold, forward-thinking pioneers or just plain nuts? Let's find out together, shall we? Hello and welcome everybody. I'm Jim traveling with my lovely wife Rita and you're listening to Travels with Jim and Rita. Well, we had a bit of a struggle getting out of Mexico. Our scheduled flight got bumped an entire day due to bad weather in our connection city, Dallas-Fort Worth, making lemonade out of lemons. We found a hotel near the airport in Queretaro and spent the day walking around its historic district. We have some pictures up on the blog at jimsantosbooks. com if you're curious. The next day started out with our 5.10 am flight being delayed until 9.10 am which meant we could not make our connection again.

Jim Santos:

So we were booked on a much later flight that would not get us to Knoxville until after midnight, with a nine-hour layover. Fortunately we were able to get standby seats on an earlier flight. Rita's luggage showed up in Knoxville about two hours after us, and mine made it by the next morning. We're in Knoxville for some doctor's appointments and to tie up a few loose ends with our storage situation, and then it's time for a road trip, and we'll have a little more on that later. But first we've got another recorded interview from San Miguel de Aliente to share Our last day in San Miguel. We were invited into the home of Michelle Wetterburn, and a lovely home it is.

Jim Santos:

Casa Elm is in the Las Fraeles neighborhood, far enough from the historic district to be much quieter, but still close enough for easy access. Michelle is a visionary, a healer and a community builder who hosts guests at Casa Elm and provides soft landing services for those seeking to move to San Miguel. Now, once again, during our interview it was still rather warm. Windows were open, so I apologize for the bird songs in the occasional loud car, or even a train that you can hear in the background. So, without further ado, here's our chat with Michelle Wetterburn. Michelle, thanks for speaking with us today and thanks for inviting us into your lovely home here. Happy to have you here. On Travels with Jim and Rita, You're welcome.

Michelle Wedderburn:

Thank you for coming, yeah.

Jim Santos:

It was a nice long, bumpy cab ride out here All the rides in San Miguel.

Michelle Wedderburn:

Very interesting. Yeah, yeah. It's when I go out of town and I'm out on the nice smooth highway and then I get back to my street and it's like, oh yeah they're always like that, you know.

Jim Santos:

I think they want to keep it that way, to keep it colonial, absolutely yeah, and it keeps the speeds down. You can't go fast on that. Now, michelle, let's take a look at your website. You're listed as a visionary healer and a community builder, but I guess you didn't really start out like that. What actually brought you to Mexico, and San Miguel in particular?

Michelle Wedderburn:

Well, I would say my biggest motivation was I wanted to raise my son outside of the US. I wanted to raise him in a place where he could learn another language and just kind of interact in a different cultural setting. I do think, because of all the connections we can make online, that we've all become more global citizen type people and growing up I think I always dreamed of places my dad used to travel to. I couldn't go with him, but he was a missionary, so for me it was really special when he would come home with the magazines and the souvenirs. And you know, our imaginations as children was huge. So that was for me, one of the reasons I wanted to be somewhere else in race and somewhere where I felt that it reminded me as well as my childhood.

Jim Santos:

How old was he at that time? Six, six, yeah, that's a great age, really curious.

Michelle Wedderburn:

Yeah, he just finished kindergarten and then we literally left the day after. He came to San Diego full-time. They pick up the language so quick he's fluent.

Jim Santos:

Had you visited other countries before picking Mexico?

Michelle Wedderburn:

I've traveled a lot to over 30 countries in my lifetime, so I'm grateful for that. I actually spent a lot of time in and out of Mexico prior. I spent a lot of time in Oaxaca, went to Mexico City, a lot of the coastline areas in Mexico, and my very first visit to Mexico was actually San Miguel in 2005. And it was very different. It was very different, but I was able to do a little bit of like assessment of where I would want to be because of my experience with traveling. In terms of picking a country, the top three countries were initially Italy. I got rid of that. Italy is beautiful. It is beautiful, but it just was like, okay, from an economic standpoint, why go there? And then I looked at Panama, costa Rica, and then Mexico just kind of kept popping up and I said why not Mexico? Because I've been here and I love Mexico, mexico just kind of kept popping up and I said why not Mexico?

Michelle Wedderburn:

Because I've been here and I love Mexico, so I did some research but I felt that Mexico was the best place for us.

Jim Santos:

Did you speak any Spanish at the time? I did poquito, I was living in Miami, so we've been there.

Michelle Wedderburn:

You know, hardly anyone speaks English regularly, and also I studied in college and then, as we were saying earlier, I spent time in South America and I studied as well there.

Jim Santos:

Did you have any transition problems when you first came into San Miguel?

Michelle Wedderburn:

I think I was a little bit naive because of the language. I thought I knew more than I actually did. So I think not really I wouldn't call it a transition problem. I think it was more of a eye-opening experience where I went to the grocery store and I literally kind of spun around a few times. Oh, you know, because everything I think is so standard in the US with all the stores, how they line things up, and it's funny because it's kind of subliminal, right, just go, you know where it is. I was like, why is the ketchup and the mayo over here?

Jim Santos:

and not over there.

Michelle Wedderburn:

So I found it interesting because I didn't know all those smaller words Like flour what was flour? So quickly learned how to use Google Translate.

Jim Santos:

And spices are difficult. Exactly spices.

Michelle Wedderburn:

Um, I would say no. I I felt that I came with a lot of openness to the experience. I didn't find anything extra challenging, I think, maybe paying bills where to go, but you figure that out and then, once you know, you know so at what point did you decide that you would like to help other people make this transition also? When I started getting bombarded with questions online, you know, I think the first thing for me was I had a lot of people with the stereotype of the fearfulness of living in Mexico.

Michelle Wedderburn:

We get a lot of that, and so I wanted to also educate people, because I also had folks who would send me a message at maybe today and say, hey, I'll be in Cancun tomorrow, would you like to meet up for a drink? And I'm like, yeah, I'd have to drive 22 hours to get there, you know. So I also started to learn the vastness of the country Okay, 32 states, you know. Clearly it's a big country, and I wanted to educate people on this.

Michelle Wedderburn:

So I said, all right, I'm going to step back a bit. I also wanted to educate them on how much history and things they have to do that maybe, you know, you're not going to find at the beach, right. And so I started to road trip and travel and I like to make videos. And I was like, oh, I'm going to make these videos, which were super time consuming, you know, editing and all these things. So I still did them, you know, did road trips around the area, maybe three to five hours in one direction from San Miguel, all of the things around here. And I thought, oh, there's so much to see and do, let me share this. And I started to speak to people and then I said, look, create a channel. And I started with my channel and people just had a lot of questions. You know. They were like is it safe? You know, how are you received as a person of color, things like this. And I said, actually, we're received. Well, you know.

Michelle Wedderburn:

So I wanted to share life through my lens. So people understood that it's for everyone. Right, you need to make a plan. It's not some special mix that you have to do to get to Mexico. It's doable, it's possible, but sometimes things need to be normalized. I think people just see it not from a oh, here are the top 10 places to travel to. If you go to Mexico City, right, it's like here I live, here, here's the real deal, right, here are the issues, here are the things here are the challenges, here are the up points here are the issues, here are the things, here are the challenges.

Jim Santos:

Uh, here are the up points, here are the down points, and that's that was where, um, my motivation began. Have you met, uh, todd and damon? Yes, is there? Um, for our listeners are a mixed race couple, yes, and a gay couple, and they've traveled the world also. They've gone a lot of different places and they've traveled the world also. They've gone to a lot of different places, and they've also said that Mexico is where they feel most accepted and most welcome.

Michelle Wedderburn:

They do like Ecuador a lot as well. Yes, yes, I feel the same. I honestly. And now that I've been living here for six years, when I go to other places, you know whether it's the US, or even to where my parents were born. I love, whether it's the US or even to where my parents were born. I love, love, love my heritage. My parents are from Jamaica and.

Michelle Wedderburn:

I went there in February but coming home I really felt this is home, Like I just you know, talking about it I get a little goosebumps, but I really enjoy coming back to San Miguel. I love coming back to the culture, the people, the environment.

Jim Santos:

So, yes, yeah, that's an odd transition when you start to think of another country as home. Yeah, it is. We used to think of Ecuador as home for about six years. I remember the first time we got off the airplane in Guayaquil I think we'd been home for Christmas visiting families and we got off. We stepped out of the airport in this nice warm air. We've been home for Christmas visiting families and it got off. We stepped out of the airport in this nice warm air.

Michelle Wedderburn:

Yes, right, it's like we're home. Yeah, it was in the 80s and we had been in the 30s or 20s or whatever. Right, it's special, and even just the way the people greet you.

Jim Santos:

Yes.

Michelle Wedderburn:

I remember I came back from I think it was Cali when my dad passed in November of last year, when my dad passed in November of last year, and you know it was a dark time because of the grief and sadness. But I remember getting back to the Querétaro Airport and you know, just going to the bathroom attendant, you know. So you're on a snow chest, a smile on your face. You know the people pick you up from the airport, they're like hi, michelle, and you just feel so like good, right, they recognize you. I feel very human here, yeah, like you have a family here, right?

Michelle Wedderburn:

yeah, definitely the village experience.

Jim Santos:

I've been tied to monville the same way yeah, a lot of the expatriates that we talked to. They feel like they have a new family?

Michelle Wedderburn:

yeah, in the area, absolutely. I feel that the community is just special and that's why I coined that healer. I feel the healer aspect is people come to this space, casa El, and they're just so stressed out. Whatever the things are work life, maybe they've been caretaking elderly parent, or they had their children and now their kids have gone on. They're empty nesters. Whatever the reasons are, when they get here they're just like so peaceful, so quiet. So I feel like it is a healing space in so many ways. Didn't necessarily plan it that way, but I listened to intuition in regard to starting the business, I really jumped in. I really just jumped in and in terms of the community building aspect, you know, I just started sharing, like I said, my life. Creating programs that are one week long if people want to come here's a good way to have the soft landing experience in San Miguel and we're here to help that happen. We're here to help you get connected to the community and it's grown.

Jim Santos:

It's grown a lot yeah, that soft landing is an interesting phrase. So I know, when you first get to a foreign country, especially if you're arriving with your suitcases and you're you're moving there yeah, it can be a pretty rough transition.

Michelle Wedderburn:

Okay, people always ask me, what piece of advice would you give someone who wants to move? And I personally always say know thyself, because if you are adventurous and flexible enough to do that, to show up, that's not me. I need to know where I'm going to sleep and I don't need it meticulously planned out. But in terms of relocating, I do think that if you don't have a plan, it definitely fails for most people because their expectations are so far from what the reality is. Well, you don't have any base, you're just showing up. Yeah, you're just showing up. So you're helped your skelter and you're not bored to anything.

Jim Santos:

I want to talk to you about Casa Elm and what you're doing here in the boutique, but when you first came to San Miguel, I assume you didn't just jump into this beautiful location here. Where were you staying when you first came here?

Michelle Wedderburn:

I lived in La Lajona and I was in a housing development and that was also kind of a thing that I felt fell into place. But I didn't do a lot of digging in terms of places that I searched and looked for online. I did a research trip in December of 2017, around the holidays. I connected with a property manager, the guy who picked me up from the airport. He said, oh, I can drive you around tomorrow to the different neighborhoods right, and that's very helpful, and he did that. But we didn't go inside really to see too many places and we ended up at one development. They were building them, so people understand like it's a bit different in Mexico or here in San Miguel than it is in the US.

Michelle Wedderburn:

Companies don't typically own a development that's for rent or a building that's for rent. They're usually individually owned. So, long story short, I ended up in this townhouse over there, loved it, got lucky. It was a great community for my child and I stayed there for four years and after the fourth year, decided okay, I'm going to move somewhere else, but at that point I had acquired Casa Elm but I wasn't physically living here and it was just a lot of.

Michelle Wedderburn:

You know my personal life situation and I had guests that had already booked the spaces that I planned to live in downstairs, and so I was like, okay, you know, go with that flow. Um, people were very excited about it and they were just contacting me word of mouth. I don't think I even had much out there yet in terms of my website, I had just established it and people were like, hey, we want to come, you want to come, or we're going to scout san miguel, can we stay at your place? And so then from there, so I moved into, this is basically where I live now, but I lived in two neighborhoods before, so you kind of you know the neighborhoods.

Jim Santos:

oh yeah, what condition was casa elmen when you bought it? Because we've looked at a few properties and in san miguel, you, you never know what's behind the door. No, it could be a palace or it could be a dump. A dump, that could be a palace if you put a lot of money into it.

Michelle Wedderburn:

Yeah, it's a big deep hole on a lot of these. It is, it is, so it was actually in really good condition, so I'm very grateful. When I walked in, you know, it all kind of happened very quickly. All the colors that you see were very neutral. The floors were neutral, the walls were neutral, but it was empty. It was completely empty, and this was the beginning of December of 2021. And I had people coming on January 28th Whoa, and it was the holidays and there were two bathrooms that I gutted and basically they weren't at a standard where I would want people to be in them. The rooms, everything else was fine, and I say everything else. There was still a lot of work to do, like replacing wire heaters and things like that, but I think for me, because I love aesthetics of design and all that, it was interesting because I just thought, oh, this is no big deal, I'll just go to this store and I'll just select the items that I need and I'll buy this furniture and it does not work this way or quickly in mexico.

Michelle Wedderburn:

You really need to have a lot of patience I mean in the us as well, but I think in the us we have a lot of access to things faster. Oh, yeah, right, we live a very convenient lifestyle. We didn't during covid, right? But normally, yes, it's a lot, and it's even more here, especially during christmas. People are not working very hard, they're just hard.

Michelle Wedderburn:

Yeah, and I needed headboards, I needed sheets and everything, everything you could think of for a house, so I was literally running around Like a chicken. Yeah, did you use the Costco's and the Carota Royal? Yeah, I did use various places Costco, I drove to Mexico City and to Ikea. I did use various places to go. Now, costco, I drove to Mexico City and to Ikea, which was very interesting because they had all the stuff on display, but then all the bins were empty. Yeah, so I didn't feel that that was the most successful trip trip. And then just the people around. You know the local carpenterias and a lot of word of mouth. You know that's, I'm sure, from living in Ecuador. You know you ask someone who knows someone, who knows someone, and I had a friend who makes furniture, makes things, and she helped me, that's great.

Jim Santos:

We noticed a lot of furniture makers at the Tuesday Market. Did you check out any of that?

Michelle Wedderburn:

It's a similar concept. The Carpinterias yes, they're like that raw wood and then you finish it how you like. My friend that did the headboards. She has a furniture place that's sort of vintage modern, and their prices are excellent. So in the end she was the one who rescued me from myself, because I went to two Carpinterias prior and, as I said, because it was the holidays, they just weren't really going to deliver. I even went all the way to Leon to get the sofa sets, which is about two hours away, and thankfully everything kind of worked out.

Michelle Wedderburn:

How many guests can you support here? Well, we have seven beds, but if you share, like the king queen, it could be ten. Yeah, comfortably ten. Do you have to provide all the meals? No, it depends on what they're coming for, Like, for example, with the relocation tours, we have a full week that has, for example, a welcome dinner. We then the following day, we'll go to, like, a local vineyard or some kind of outdoor experience where they can see the centro, but then they can also see the country, because it's beautiful out there as well. I didn't even know san miguel had vineyards until I moved here, so that's a plus and then we educate them.

Michelle Wedderburn:

During the week we have a presentation where they can um, well, they do meet with an immigration person. We do a city walking tour or driving tour, depending on the person's mobility. They get to meet a realtor, neighborhood tour, medical insurance presentation. So throughout the week we kind of give the things mostly in the morning, if we can set it up that way, and then in the afternoon they have free time. I do cook for them.

Michelle Wedderburn:

On the welcome meal there's always for all the guests. There's a light breakfast. You know. There's cereals, coffee, teas, fresh fruit, full kitchen with pots, pans, seasonings, anything if you want to cook or you just want to buy your pre-prepared things. It's. It's really a kind of like a communal space right where you have access. So I call it the home away from home. You know the soft landing, the home away from home, you're not really by yourself because I'm here. So if you need help, you know I can help with that. So that's kind of what's included with the relocation tours. And then we also do a farewell dinner dinner and that's usually Jamaican style because I'm Jamaican, yeah, and I'll invite other people from the community who already live here, right, depending on you know who the guest is, I'll say oh, you know, here's a this age demographic, this interest in helping some folks over. I have a lot of people who did my tours who live here now. So yeah, we always gather. Yes, guys.

Jim Santos:

I did notice a line of hot sauces in your kitchen.

Michelle Wedderburn:

Yes, my spicy Jamaican things and my curries and my seasonings.

Jim Santos:

yeah, what do you think is the best way to go about building community?

Michelle Wedderburn:

The best way, I think, is to be open to receiving me myself, really coming out of my sometimes introverted person and, you know, creating events where people want to gather and come out. Not everyone wants to do that all the time, but when people are new to the community or maybe they're retired, it's just a different thing when you feel like you have somewhere to go and you have people to be around. I think that if you don't open yourself to receiving where you are or where you move to, it can be isolating right, the language can be isolating. You could get a little depressed, maybe Just really finding purpose in your new space.

Michelle Wedderburn:

So for me it's important I do a once a month meetup for brunch and you know we go to different places, like the next month we're going to actually go to a show today, the water park, which is the first. This will be interesting, but we normally will go to, you know know, a restaurant or somewhere that has an outdoor space where we can all sit outside and then people get to meet people. Sometimes they're just looking or they're only visiting or they already live here and they just are getting together again. So what I found is that we don't want to be as insular as we think, because I know for myself, coming from the US as a single mom living in Florida, my family, most of my family's, in Canada, and my mom and my brothers are in Connecticut. So I always found that I was just in my space, right in my look, and I had friends, but it was always just like, oh, let's go's go to happy hour.

Michelle Wedderburn:

And that's it. But here I really feel that there's more in terms of the community build. Like people ask us all the time do you want to go out? Do you want to do this? You know I have a friend, hey yesterday, can Micah come? We're going to the mountain king, we're going to go swimming, can? He pick him up, sure, you, and he kind of picked him up, sure, and I didn't have that. I didn't have that in Florida.

Michelle Wedderburn:

You know, I think you're right. In the US, people do isolate because they're so busy with their jobs. Yes, and unless they have children, they don't socialize much, because the children is what you go to games or you take you know, and people don't go out and walk as much. No, not that far much they get in their car and drive someplace. We always walk two or three miles, even in our old neighborhood.

Jim Santos:

I love it it's interesting to me to call yourself an introvert because you're involved in such a people oriented business, and I consider myself an introvert as well. People say, oh, you've been in bands and you give talks in front of 600 people.

Michelle Wedderburn:

And I can do that. But I do like to be alone too. I know when I need to come down Because my, although this is all fun and I love, I can't even say enjoy. I love what I do because I love seeing people blossom. I really get to see them blossom, you know. Pull the onion layers back and, you know, enjoy their new space or life. But I also like to be quiet. So most of my time is spent social, going out, doing things, and when I can be quiet and just be in my space, yeah, I love that too.

Jim Santos:

Yeah, it's interesting. Last week's show we were talking with somebody who'd been here for 20 some years and this is someone that we just met randomly through going out to dinner with our friends, todd and Daman. Right, okay, and well, in fact, todd and Daman, the amount of time we've actually spent with them, like in Ecuador and here, and even FaceTime on the phone, is probably less than a week, but they're just so close and we love them. And then we meet this random friend of theirs and we've spent maybe two hours with her and you just feel the closeness to them and it's just interesting when people have this kind of common love of travel or exploring new ideas and new things.

Michelle Wedderburn:

And we're always running things by each other. What did you think when you were doing this or whatever?

Jim Santos:

Well, you meet people who are virtual strangers but for some reason you feel comfortable sharing parts of your life with them that you wouldn't necessarily share with people that you know in the States for years.

Michelle Wedderburn:

Absolutely, you know, you have a lot of acquaintances, but very few intimate friends exactly, and no matter if you haven't talked to them for a year and all of a sudden you reconnect it's you don't have to start.

Jim Santos:

No, yeah, right well, it's been, uh, about six years now. How is your son adapted?

Michelle Wedderburn:

he's adapted really well. I think coming when he was six definitely made a difference because he didn't have maybe a lot of opinions about living in florida per se, right? Yeah, you know, I think for him his whole life not think his whole life has been an adventure. His very first trip he was one years old. We came to Mexico and then every birthday we would go somewhere. We traveled around Florida. You know I love to go trip, so coming to Mexico definitely talked to him about it and I started like practicing Spanish with him, just the basic things. And when we got here, like I said, we were in a community development where there were so many kids and just fun, so it almost felt like he went from being in Florida to vacation, vacation life, and they had a pool and I mean he had freedom, which he didn't have in Florida. I was able to let him outside, he could run around and play with the other children at six.

Michelle Wedderburn:

I didn't have to do that in Florida, even though I lived in the development there as well. So it was interesting to see how he kind of just kept developing into this child who was curious and happy and free and in terms of the language. The first school year was a bit bumpy, I'm sure I'm honest about that, and I think a part of it was. I came with some of my US expectations in regard to education and I was like, because I also came back after that December 2017 trip, I came back in February 2018 just to interview schools and I came alone and I interviewed five schools and I sort of said, ok, here are my top two. When we come back in June, we'll do their entrance exam Just kind of wanted to see where, what level he was at. And I said, oh yeah, so I just wanted that to be set. So I got everything set, paid the tuition, got the uniform, did everything and then within two months, I was like this isn't working. This was when school started and so that was bumpy. And then I said, oh, you know what, let's try the second school. So so I pulled him out, moved him to the second school and a couple of months in, I was like, oh, this is not good either, right, and I was super frustrated by it. And then I decided I remember thinking like I'm putting a lot of pressure on the two of us. You know they would say, oh, he didn't write these two sentences. And I thought who cares? You know it's first grade, you know he's adapting, he doesn't speak the language, and I wanted a place that made him feel welcome, not necessarily hampered, but the importance for me was more the emotional thing, the acceptance Right, than writing a sentence.

Michelle Wedderburn:

And so I had some friends in the development I lived in who started their own kind of free-range school, free-range chickens, and I thought, well, what is this? So I really learned a lot of different educational concepts here, different educational concepts here, you know, not just Montessori, waldorf, but people who were like world school, unschool, no school, homeschool, and I thought I definitely don't want to homeschool because I want him to be around other children. So I ended up signing him up for a school that was not SEP accredited, it was just a school and they literally just played all day. They constructed things, um, they walked, did walks and picked plants and talked about them and the rocks, and he would come on with all this crap in his pockets and he'd be like today I learned this. But he was so happy, yeah, and I thought you know what this is what it's about. I want him to learn the language and then we'll worry about the other things after.

Michelle Wedderburn:

So for him, yes, he's adapted well, and I think as if there are parents listening to this that it's important for you to also let your kids transition into this experience without putting a lot of pressure on them, because you don't want it to be miserable, like you don't want the memory to be miserable, and that's what I didn't want for him. I didn't want it to be where. You know he hated school and he was being bullied or something like this. And then I'm like no, you just have to go and figure it out. I just thought that's not what we came for. We came for a more peaceful existence and I want you to learn the language and all the other things will come later, you know. But I had the luxury of that because he was six. You know it's a little different if they're older.

Michelle Wedderburn:

So now does he go to a conventional school? He does. He's at Victoria Robbins and she's well-known. She's been here for over 30 years. She's well-known, she's been here for over 30 years and her school is about that many years old and it's bilingual and they start at fifth grade until high school, I believe they graduate. A lot of their students get scholarships at colleges in the US, so let's see it's all good. Yeah, I like it a lot. Yeah, I like it.

Jim Santos:

I looked over your website some of the services that you offer here and you also have events. Are these events open to just anybody who happens to be in the area?

Michelle Wedderburn:

Absolutely so. I have a San Miguel meetup, which is a first. That's coming in October and it's really just to again create those soft landing for anyone, because they're what I found I don't know if you found this there are a lot of single people. We are saying, right, a lot of single women. Mostly there are couples who come as well, and I feel that the women typically are the ones kind of like I want to go there, I want to move, right, I want to check this out and I found this so for me, giving them kind of like an agenda of things to see. So you're in Central, you get to meet in a group, you get to do a walking tour, you get to learn about the city and then we're going to go to a vineyard. This is kind of like it's a quick in, but maybe it's the start of you staying a little longer and then you can take over from there.

Michelle Wedderburn:

Or you're meeting somebody just like you, right, exactly, you know wanting to make a networking situation, exactly so we have that in September. The relocation tours are open to everyone. We do have a woman's retreat that is not open to everyone, and you know most of the events that we host you can find on the website. We are also going to be hosting two virtual events. One is in August and it's called Redefining your Life Abroad, and that's what we're talking about is, what do you do once you get here? What happens after? And I think people go through this when they retire what do I do? Or I want a career change, but I don't know how to make it happen. So we're doing a two-day summit on that. And then I'm also doing a Move to Mexico conference in November 1st through the 3rd, and you can find that online, and that is to really help people. So, basically, what I do in person. It is going to be a virtual version, but it will be very in-depth. It will be very in-depth.

Jim Santos:

What's the best way for people to contact you if they're interested?

Michelle Wedderburn:

Go to my website, casaelm. com, and you can write us there. My email is info@ t CasaELM. com and we're very responsive. I have a couple people who help me virtually. If there's anything there that you want to sign up for, I have a lot of free webinars about things I have um. Also relocation webinars, um throughout the year. All of those are on my event page and you can see what's there there was a phrase on your website I thought was kind of evocative.

Jim Santos:

I wanted to ask you about. It was a quote I am my ancestors' wildest dreams. Yes, I am.

Michelle Wedderburn:

I am. I really feel that, if I think back to my grandmom and my parents, even I'm first generation outside of the Caribbean. So I was born in Toronto, grew up in the United States, and when I listened to their stories, you know everything was just about being in the town or the place where they were and working every day just to have meal. You know, and I feel that this for me feels very full circle because they left also, right, we're all kind of immigrating around the world, right, we're moving from different places to wherever. But I chose this place, so, and I've chosen to create a life that is more suited to who I am. So, instead of just I have to work because I need to eat or have to survive which we all need to do that but it's sort of having the choices of what you want to do and how you want to do it and maybe filling your purpose following your intuition.

Michelle Wedderburn:

I feel that my father really did that, because he was a minister practically his whole adult life and he was very dedicated to that. So he also, I guess, was a community builder as well. He did a lot of missionary work. So I feel that that phrase really fits me because if I could go back and speak to my grandma or my great-grandmom, I think they would be pretty like wow, you know, that's pretty cool, you know. So I'm grateful and I hope that my son's you know lifestyle in the future will continue to be global.

Jim Santos:

We've been chatting with Michelle Wedderburn. She's a visionary healer and community builder here in San Miguel de Allende and owner and operator of the Casa Elm Boutique Guesthouse. We'll have links to her website and more information for how to contact her also in the show notes. Michelle, thanks for introducing us to your lovely home here and we wish you all the best.

Michelle Wedderburn:

Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me.

Jim Santos:

That's all for this show. Now, next week, rita and I will give our final impressions of our five weeks in Mexico and we'll see if we manage to stay within our $3,000 a month budget. We'll also check and see how our nest egg has been doing since we sold our house back in mid-April. We're off soon for Carmel, indiana, where we'll be house and cat sitting for a month, which will certainly help with the June-July budgets, and then we'll be spending a few weeks couch surfing with family and friends until early August when we'll be off for a new adventure in Europe. Before we go, a reminder that Rita and I will be returning to the US to be at the International Living 2024 Ultimate Go Overseas Boot Camp coming up in Las Vegas, nevada, october 26th through the 28th. I'm scheduled to give a couple of presentations and we'll both be in the exhibit hall to answer questions about slow travel, the places we visited and our plans for the future. There'll be expats and experts from around the world and if you're interested in attending, check out intlivingcom slash events. That's intliving. com/ events. That's intliving. com/ events for more information or to make reservations.

Jim Santos:

That's it for this week's show. Keep listening and keep spreading the word on social media. If you can, please take a moment to leave a rating and review and, of course, subscriptions are always welcome. If you have any questions or you'd like to tell your own story, email me at jim@ jimsantosbooks. com. You can also find my books and short stories on my Amazon page at jimsantos. net, and you can find pictures and stories from our travels on my blog at jimsantosbooks. com. Until next time, remember we travel not to escape life, but so that life does not escape us. Thank you.

Living Abroad
Building Community in San Miguel
Cultural Adaptation and International Relocation

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