Colonial Highland Life in Guanajuato, Mexico

Sandra Ward was introduced to the idea of living in Mexico early. The love of the country followed her for 45 years…into retirement.

Sandra’s journey to Mexico began in 1952, when she was just a girl. Her two older sisters, who were art students in Cleveland, wanted to study art for a term in the newly-opened Instituto Allende, in San Miguel de Allende. So the whole family went to San Miguel—and loved it.

Fast forward to 1997 when Sandra and her husband Ron Mann were looking to retire. Though they considered Europe, Sandra’s early ties to Mexico won out.

Family considerations also played an important part in the move. For a start, both Sandra and Ron had elderly mothers and Sandra, especially, did not want to move too far away.

She had plenty of family ties in Mexico…a sister and brother-in-law, as well as an uncle, had all moved to Guanajuato, just 90 minutes from San Miguel in Mexico’s Colonial Highlands.

Still, Sandra and Ron didn’t necessarily plan to live in Mexico full-time. “We came down with the idea of renting for six months,” says Sandra.

But within a month they’d found and bought a property. “It had been abandoned,” says Ron. “It was a total wreck.”

The couple spent six months doing basic renovation, living in the house all the while. But by the time it was finished, about eight months into their Mexico adventure, Ron was ready to leave.

“I spent Christmas Eve alone on the property,” Ron recalls. It was cold that year, the electricity was out, and they still had plastic over the windows. He went to bed that night intending to work out exit strategies in the morning.

But when Christmas Day dawned, his mood had changed. He went outside into the bright day and arranged plants in a circle to form a garden. That was 16 years ago and the couple’s now well and truly found their feet in Guanajuato.

Today they still live in the same house (which has been transformed since its rough beginnings) and are heavily involved in local activities. Sandra has founded an animal rescue group. And Ron gardens (he grows most of their vegetables), cooks, and builds and sells small houses on land they’ve bought in the area.

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