“People go to Florida to die but they come to SMA to live” goes an old often repeated saying amongst locals in this colorful Mexican town just 2 1/2 hours or 166 miles northwest of Mexico City with year-round eternal spring climate. Well, it is supposed to take 2 1/2 hours but not on a friday afternoon on a holiday weekend. Who knew they decided to celebrate Black Friday weeks before thanksgiving and an American holiday yet. But once you do arrive in this quaint mountain town, it is totally worth the long commute as we were greeted by our charming Casa de Sierra Nevada as mi casa su casa. It’s no wonder this pretty as a picture town attracted so many ex-pat retirees, artists, entrepreneurs, and just plain old good-life seekers like us STAT trippers (11 of us ladies) looking for adventure…our first one just getting used to walking in high heels on the narrow cobblestone streets to dinner in the dark AND back after a few margaritas! Comparatively, hiking and biking seemed like a breeze so we thought. Jorge, our wonderful guide for the long weekend, was perfection on all fronts. Gina couldn’t even rattle his feathers when she nonchalantly asked him if he minded if we were all “naked” in the closing ceremonial sweat lodge…more on that later. We started our mornings with a nice brisk walk to the local yoga studio where we enjoyed a wonderful preparatory stretch for our daily activities. Our first “3 hour tour” (think castaways) started straight away from our casa in town to a nature reserve called El Charco del Ingenio where we enjoyed a major hike down and out a relatively small canyon. It was quite challenging and required some bouldering skills which we quickly acquired. Ok, so some of us had some verticality issues but persevered while others were clearly out of their box. Love that! Did I forget to mention that SMA is 6,100 feet above sea level? It may explain some shortness of breath but the challenges kept coming the next day as we biked right out-of-town through San Miguel Viego on dirt roads through La Press on a combination of road and dirt to Atotonilco where we ditched the bikes for a walk through the 250-year-old Santuario de Atontonilco where nearly every inch of wall and ceiling space is filled with detailed biblical scenes and passages, which is why the church is known as Mexico’s Sistine Chapel and why is was named a Unesco World Heritage site. It was a full day of exploration as we were not quite back in time for scheduled massages but certainly in time to clean up and get ready for cocktails at the Rose Bar with the other gringos before our most authentic mexican meal in town…no street food for us! Town square was hopping with taco stands, street musicians, and burros but the most amazing sight is the Parroquira which is a parrish church regarded as the symbol of San Miguel in all pastel pink and orange… especially gorgeous at night. We really got the lay of the land on our last big hike together as we started at the top of the city and hiked on private reserve property all around the north side of the mountains that form the San Miguel valley. The views were spectacular from all sides as was our healthy picnic lunch Jorge prepared for us from his day at the local market. What a treat…he even carried his own salad bowl. But that was just the beginning of the special treats for the day. In the afternoon, we had the honor of visiting our philanthropic element of the trip and because SMA is such a big retirement community, 80% of the people here grow old and need assisted living facilities. So, my STAT girls and I went to visit ALMA, one such retirement home that is particularly in need of donations. It warmed our hearts to meet 92-year-old Lisa who referred to us as her “fellow comrades”as she proceeded to explain that she has no idea how she ended up here in Mexico but is happy she did. And we were happy to help make her stay more comfortable. Feeling good about our visit and giving back to the community, we were off to participate in yet another local endeavor with the beautiful Dayana Paz. One of Mexico’s most honored and oldest rituals is the temazcal, a sweat lodge healing ceremony to purify the body and mind and perhaps experience a spiritual rebirth or at least a deeper sense of peace and reflection. It was an intense experience for some of us as we chanted and received the indigenous blessings and prayers that were offered. It’s always a moment of gratitude for me to be able to take part in such spiritual rituals. A big “wow wow wow” as Dayana would affectionately say every time a new volcanic rock was brought into the lodge. Serious gratitude for this closing ceremony of a beautifully articulated and special journey with amazing women. The icing with the cherry on top was all of us actually rallying for an early morning departure to see the Teotihuacan Pyramids, just north of Mexico City on the way to the airport. As we stood as a group at the pyramid of the moon staring out towards the sun in this mystical place, the journey for me took on a life of its own. We were able to be in the present moment yet reflective and futuristic. A perfect way to live our life. All my relations. Ho.