How to Make Friends in San Miguel by Paul Schiratti (It’s published under Mr. Grumpy’s name, but I wrote it.)
Years ago, while waiting in line at the Teatro Angela Peralta, I overheard the stranger behind me say he needed a fourth for tennis.
“I brought my racket,” I said.
“Great! Here’s where we’re playing…”
I’ve been playing with them ever since.
That’s hardly a unique experience in San Miguel. Five minutes in the Jardin and you’ve already met two new people and received three restaurant recommendations.
I’ve met many wonderful people and had many exceptional experiences in San Miguel, but the most fulfilling, the one I hurry back to each year, is walking the dogs at the S.P.A.
No sooner do I unpack, when I head down Canal Street to see my friends. My welcome is deafening. Barking, howling, baying—a sweet melody of doggie greeting. I walk through the well-maintained, volunteer-run facility, past each brightly painted cage to see old friends and new faces.
There’s Dulce and Guera, Shy and Nube. I’ve been walking them for years.
I’m delighted to see them, but it breaks my heart they’re still here, year after year, hopefully awaiting their forever homes. No matter how clean and bright each cage is, it’s still a cage. Dogs need a home of their own and a family—even a family of one. Add a dog, and now you’re two.
I volunteer because I love dogs, San Miguel and walking and making new friends—of both the human and the canine varieties. The S.P.A. satisfies all my passions.
I walk the larger dogs, together with other volunteers—strangers one minute, best buddies the next. My wife prefers the smaller dogs, and sometimes “socializes the puppies.” (Read: plays with them.) Cats, too.
Sadly, this year, we stayed home because our older rescue dog had grown too frail to board. And indeed, she crossed the rainbow bridge just before Christmas—too late for us to change our plans and join you in SMA this year.
I miss San Miguel, the Jardin, the coffee window, parque Benito Juarez. I miss Azteca soup and the soulful violin of Pedro Cartas. I miss the music and the dining and the art and the people.
But most of all, I miss the dogs.