I recently read an article by Mary Beth Sheridan of the Washington Post about Americans migrating to Mexico. Snookumses, that’s a switch, isn’t it? Mexico’s statistics institute estimates that the U.S.-born population in Mexico is now approximately 799,000. The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City estimates it’s closer to 1.5 million. This is more than a four-fold increase since 1990. As a result of this migration, pickle ball had its first annual tournament this year in San Miguel de Allende. Oh, these unintended consequences. Pumpkins, who would’ve dreamed that San Miguel would become a 55+ community.

Just as Texans love Santa Fe, Santa Feans love Mexico. I don’t know what percentage of that 800,000-1.5 million would be from Santa Fe, but I do know that it would include Realtors. In 1996, Victoria Ryan (formerly with City Different Realty) moved to Pátzcuaro, Michoacán, where she is an artist and the proprietor of a charming Inn, La Casa Encantada. On the Pacific side of the Baja, Victoria Warner Shepard’s surfer son, Eric Warner, chose the village of Todos Santos, primarily because it’s a little north of the beaches of San Pedrito and Los Cerritos, famous for their strong surf.

San Miguel de Allende seems to be the ex-pats’ most popular city. Judy Arnold (also from City Different Realty) moved there and started San Miguel Rentals in the late ‘90s. Sadly, I must report that Judy had a stroke a few years ago and died on April 24th at 84. Jeanne Edmunds Humphrey moved to SMA with her husband, “Hump” (John Humphrey Sr.) and their golden retriever in the early 2000’s. Wanda Dawley (formerly with Santa Fe Properties) moved to SMA to play bridge and have a place for Candy Brenton (marketing consultant) to stay when she visits.

Other crazy bridge players chose Puerto Vallarta. John Jacobson (attorney and owner of the now-defunct Santa Fe Futures Realty) made his 2nd home his primary residence when he retired there last year. Leslie Brodsky went to PV for a bridge tournament in 2016 and never returned except to get her dogs and a few items of clothing.

Linda Bissonnette (Sotheby’s) and her dog, Mickey, moved to Ajijic, Jalisco, where she joined Lake Chapala Real Estate. Being a water baby, she likes the sound of her marketing tag “Linda Sells Lakeside” better than something like “Linda Sells Solar.” Cariñas, she also loves referrals, so keep that in mind. Susan and Terry Munroe (Santa Fe Properties) wanted a break from real estate, so they rented a hacienda in Ajijic for a year or two and use it as their home base while they travel.

Bebés, thinking of all these ex-pats made me want to jump on a plane and head down there. But I couldn’t. That’s what happens when you have a dog who likes three meals a day and sleeps late…it’s high maintenance. Additionally, I didn’t want to miss this year’s Eldorado Studio Tour.

Each year it gets better, it seems, just as Eldorado does. I remember when AMREP bought the Alva Simpson Ranch in 1970. Back then it was just a whole lot of land stretching on seemingly forever. Today Eldorado is the largest unincorporated community in New Mexico and boasts one of the west’s largest solar communities. Possums, no longer does one have to drive into Santa Fe for supplies, because today there are two shopping centers with everything you need. (Walmart and Amazon combined.)

In addition to these First World amenities, Eldorado has become a budding artist colony, proof of which could be seen last month at the studio tour. This year’s event led the pack of spring studio tours with the largest number of artist and artisan participants in New Mexico. That’s what I’m talkin’ about, Cupcakes. Eldorado has come into its own.

My good friends Walter Cooper (artist, author, and very tall) and his partner, Doug Bland (retired chair of NM Bureau of Geology & Mineral Resources, avid gardener, and very athletic) built a house in Eldo thirty years ago (pace setters always). Walter’s studio was on the tour this year, and I wanted one of his latest shadow boxes. With 107 other artists displaying and selling their work, you can understand that I didn’t stop just at Walter’s studio (fortunately, my car has a large trunk). All in all, petunias, it was a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

Mexico may have to wait, I realized, until next fall. But cheer up, I scolded myself. In April, I could’ve been in Mexico when I went to an Española Animal Shelter fundraiser held in Abigail Davidson’s (Sotheby’s) listing in Las Campanas. Abigail’s clients loved Mexico so much that they took their architect to five different cities in Mexico to show her what was important to them when she designed their 8 Wildhorse home. Chicas, their architect may have exceeded their expectations. Stepping into the courtyard that day in April was as good as entering a glamorous hacienda in San Miguel.

The next best thing was the food. Kittens, not only is Abbie clever and creative at marketing, she’s brilliant at choosing a mate. Her life partner is Paddy Rawal, chef and owner of Raaga-Go, his gourmet Indian Takeaway tucked between the Pink and Rio Chama. Santa Feans almost had a breakdown when Paddy closed Raaga in the fall of 2017. They got off their antidepressants only when he opened his gourmet raaga-to-go. So there I was at Abbie’s listing, my eyes feasting on the architecture while I feasted on Paddy’s authentic Indian cuisine, and I was pretty sure that life wouldn’t get any better..

Gulp. It might not. Possums, now that Abbie doesn’t have anymore fundraisers planned at 8 Wildhorse (the last event was in May, Santa Fe Symphony’s “Musicale”), and I can’t afford to fly to Mexico because I spent too much of my disposable income at the Eldorado Studio Tour, is that all there is?

Oh thank god, no! This month, on June 14, I’ll be at the SFAR’s 6th Annual Golf Tournament at Towa Golf Club. Don’t worry, Golfers, I won’t be competing (ha, ha, ha). I’ll be there for the “After Party,” which is from 3:30 until 7:30. Deb Bodelson (Santa Fe Props and Chair of the SFAR Community Services Committee) assures me it will rock. AND the proceeds from this whole event go to the Alzheimer’s Association. Another thank god—I can have a guilt free time knowing my money will be spent wisely.

So long, Sweetpeas. Until next time... Oakley

Oakley Talbott can be reached at merrilypierson@me.com