Mental Health

La Parroquia, The Sentinel

In San Miguel de Allende, our Parroquia, or parish church, stands proudly sentinel over the main town square, the Jardin, like a pink tiered wedding cake.

Its Gaudi like design and pinnacles are a point of reference, a beacon, and the eyes over town.

A stalwart on a hill in Centro, we can see it above or peeking through small lanes and alleyways guiding residents and visitors to our heart.

This year, 2020, our heart is going through a bypass.

In the beginning, San Miguel indulged, as it always does.

Splashed out weddings and Quinceaneras brought forth a parade of finery.

A horse-drawn carriage, a vintage car.

Thrown rice and, and balloons let loose from hands made sticky from the tostilocos.

The parades, concerts, and festivities seem to never end, in what truly is the heart, the center of Mexico.

There are wrought iron benches under the laurels, a perfect place to catch up on gossip, get a shoeshine, and pay a mariachi.

Sidewalk cafes and small shops line the square, and women can place a wreath on their head.

We eat ice cream.

A Nikon camera with telephoto lenses and the latest smartphone compete to capture perfect carefree moments. Smiles, poses, smooches. Instagram will be busy that day.

Sunset comes, the colors change, the bells toll. The parties start.

Then one day, a gasp of disbelief, a news report, and quiet.

The streets empty, the shops and restaurants close, the incredulity rises, the ex-pats flee. COVID comes. Our town is eerie. The bells are silent.

For months our self-induced coma has combated what we can only call a nightmare. Not only in our Jardin, our town, our country, but the world.

We have all stretched to occupy our time and minds in captivity. Changes are coming.

Occasionally strong souls, including ours, ventured forth for a walk through empty lanes. I rue the day when I wanted a photo without cars marring the composition.  But not like this.

They barricade the Jardin. No one can walk its paths, play in its gazebo, line it to watch a parade.

The mojigangas are absent. They do not rise above the children, the grandparents, the lovers.

There are no bachelorette parties with women sporting tiny shot glasses on chains around their necks as a flower-laden donkey leads them merrily through the streets.

The days stretch on. The sunsets still come. La Parroquia is bored.

Then, the bells ring, and ring, and ring their heartbeat. Noticeably. I laugh and take a video from our terrace; the town spread out below us.

A few doors open, stalls start up again, restaurants serve those who are left. Glasses clink. Laughter. Tentatively, we breathe. Although still restricted by masks.

There might be cautious hope.

As the days go on, the activity increases, the heart pumps again. Visitors return. Although walking past, we give a wide berth.

Days ago, fireworks lit the sky. And we cheered and smiled, called “hola” and “Buenas Noches” across our rooftops.

But our patient is not out of the woods yet. We must treat the town, the world, and each other with care.

We don’t want a setback.

We can’t afford a flatline.

I want to dance again, hug again, have that much needed human contact. I want to be made whole. Get rid of the frustration and tears.

The eyes of the Parroquia, the eyes of the world are on all of us to do our part.


NOTE: I wrote this post first on my other Lifestyle and Travel blog, Our Prime Of Life. But I think the message is still pertinent to this one. I am a firm believer that the environment can be tremendously important to good mental health. A combination of appropriate medications, therapy, and our lovely town of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico allow me to be content and thriving despite my challenges. I hope everyone is able to make changes if necessary and find their own good place. Time is ticking!

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  • Reply
    Retirestyle Travel
    November 19, 2020 at 10:56 am

    This is a beautiful and fascinating place. We can wait to go there and possibly move there.
    We hope to connect with you directly one day to ask you some questions.
    We are writing a book about becoming snowbirds and retiring abroad and this is one of the places we are researching. Some travel information and inspiration can be found on our blog at

    • Reply
      Ria Talken
      November 21, 2020 at 6:43 am

      Hi There, I think I am following your blog. Best wishes on your book. If you ever want to contact me directly, there is a contact button in the menu bar. Yes, San Miguel is a magical place. Have you checked out my other blog it is all about our lives as expats.

  • Reply
    Amy Bovaird
    October 7, 2020 at 11:27 am

    Hi Ria,
    Connected with your post! Thought the description of your life as an expat intrigued. I think it’s always helpful to learn how the pandemic has impacted people in other countries and culture. I was an expat for many years. Thanks for sharing!! PS I love the font your name is written in on top of the blog.

  • Reply
    Chuck Bartok
    October 6, 2020 at 9:27 pm

    Interesting share and nice choice of descriptives regarding the Pandemic. Thanks for posting

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