From Don: Late March 2016. This has been a long time coming: bubbling along in the back of my mind for the entire three months we’ve been in San Miguel de Allende. Beautiful San Miguel de Allende. Alison and I had been feeling unwell and out of sorts for some months, needing to stop and stay somewhere warm for an extended period of time. I was moved to choose San Miguel de Allende, and found us what appeared to be a sweet little two-bedroom casita at a very reasonable price on Airbnb for a five-month stay from early January until the end of May 2016. Meanwhile Alison kept suggesting that we go back to La Manzanilla instead, because she had loved our previous long-stay at our friends’ casita in 2013. But I continued to push for SMA and she eventually agreed.

Alison has a much more developed aesthetic sensibility than me, and was therefore more horrified than me when she first saw the inside of our SMA casita. Even after she took most of the “artwork” off the walls and hid it in a storage cupboard she still found the place dark, cold, and ugly. Basically she hated the place and couldn’t let go of the idea of going to La Manzanilla. She was so distressed during our first week in SMA that I suggested we just cut our losses and go to La Manzanilla instead, but she said that this was not the answer, and that there was something for us in SMA, and that for me to change our plans just to try to make her happy was not a good enough reason. But she continued to hate the SMA casita and couldn’t seem to let go of the idea of going to La Manzanilla. The topic of going to La Manzanilla kept arising, and I just kept resisting it.

Meanwhile, despite multiple sessions with two very intuitive healers, Alison continued to experience severe joint and muscle pain in various areas of her body. Walking made the pain worse for her, so she ended up spending most of her days on the couch inside the hated casita. She also decided, at the recommendation of one of the healers, to gradually discontinue taking the two prescription medications she had been taking for many years to help relieve the symptoms of restless legs syndrome and sleep disturbance. Doing this led to a couple of weeks of sleeplessness and worsening mood. She would cry all night and part of the day. I became worried for her sanity, but as she said later, it was only by being willing to go so deep that she was able to heal some very old wounds. Even though I worried about Alison’s sanity I continued to resist going to La Manzanilla because I was enjoying my time in SMA: I was going to the same intuitive healers as Alison, plus I was going to a Pilates class twice a week and was enjoying walking around SMA taking in the beautiful old buildings. I would have been having a fine time were it not for feeling guilty and angry about Alison’s situation: guilty because I felt that I’d talked her into coming to SMA, and angry because she seemed unwilling to accept our situation here. Eventually when we talked openly about what was going on for each of us I learned that she had never felt coerced into coming to SMA, and that the emotional healing she had experienced had felt invaluable. So then I felt less guilty and less angry, but I was still reluctant to leave SMA for La Manzanilla.

Over time Alison came to accept staying in SMA until the end of May as originally planned. However when her other therapist suggested to Alison that she go to La Manzanilla all bets were off and we were back in the question once more.

It took me a while to come around but eventually I asked Alison to find out if the casita in La Manzanilla was available for April and May, and it was. So then we gave thirty days notice to Airbnb, as required by their long-term rental cancellation policy. The next thing we received was an invoice from Airbnb stating that we would be paying $275 more than the original agreed-upon total price for five months, even though we would now only be staying for three months. WTF?

I had an online chat with an Airbnb representative who promised that she would forward our concerns to her supervisor and that we would receive an email response before the end of the business day. Didn’t happen. I tried to find a way within me to feel okay about the situation, but my active mind continued to ruminate about it before going to sleep and again when I woke up the next morning. I hate feeling ripped off, and this looked like being the biggest rip-off we’d experienced in all of our travels. As tourists, as long-term travellers, we’ve experienced occasional over-charging by taxi drivers and very occasional overcharging by hotels, but this Airbnb rip-off was the worst. Generally we’ll grumble, feel frustrated about having been taken advantage of, and then move on. “It’s only money” we’ll say, and then let it go.

Eventually, after many phone calls, and with the assistance of Airbnb and the people whose place we’d rented, we got a big refund and we were satisfied.

What I haven’t revealed so far is how much my suspicious mind continued to wonder whether most or all of Alison’s physical pain problems would disappear as soon as she got to La Manzanilla: that this was Alison’s unconscious way of punishing me for making her come to SMA. I knew that it didn’t make any logical sense: she’d been having significant muscle and joint pains for years, but had just soldiered on using a combination of determination and medication. She had been in even worse pain during a two-month stay in Cyprus two years earlier: she could hardly bear to walk and she spent most of her time there curled up in an armchair reading books. So my suspiciousness had no basis in fact. I came to realize that it was more of a disguised wish for her to be well again, to be able to walk and hike long distances without pain. Exactly what she wished for herself. It was also a disguised wish for her to be happy.

So finally after three WTF months in SMA we moved to La Manzanilla, and it turned out to be the best thing for both of us.


Photos: Top: Church of the Immaculate Conception, San Miguel de Allende
Bottom: Sunset at the beach, La Manzanilla

Next post: Hot Weather! The Beach! Private Pool! Yoga! Sunsets! Tacos and Margaritas on the Beach! La Manzanilla!

All words and images by Alison Louise Armstrong unless otherwise noted
© Alison Louise Armstrong and Adventures in Wonderland – a pilgrimage of the heart, 2010-2016.