Despacio

One thing I take for granted when living overseas is the fact that the United States is for the most part an extremely efficient country, especially in larger cities.  It takes about 15 minutes to set up a bank account.  Workers usually provide a window of time when they will arrive and stay true to their word.  Things are delivered on time, no excuses.  (Mind you, there will be exceptions when there are hiccups but this these interruptions are the exceptions, not the norms.) Speed and efficiency is valued. I really miss that sometimes. 

Now that I’m living in Mexico, I am having to adjust to the concept of mañana and la vida despacio.  The concept of time is a very fluid one here, which made getting settled a little bit of a challenge.  Errands that once took minutes now take hours depending on the day and time. I have to admit part of this is my struggle with Spanish, the other part is cultural. When reflect on how I spent my time during the months of June and July, there is one word that comes to mind.  WAITING.

My first real experience with waiting happened with Home Depot.  Before we moved in to our house, I wanted to be certain we had a working washer, dryer, and fridge.  After scouring the local chains for weeks, I finally decided to buy the appliances in one sweep at Home Depot.  Seeing that Home Depot is a familiar chain with a good reputation, I figured there would be no problems.  After telling Victor, my favorite Home Depot salesman, what I wanted I got the delivery scheduled for the Thursday before we moved in.  The installation of the washer and drier would happen the following day. As we were settling the transaction, I THINK* Victor told me that Home Depot would call me the day before the items would be delivered so I would know when to be home.  Great!  Success!  No problem!!

This beautiful washer would soon be mine!!!
My phone was silent on the day before the delivery.  I told Chris,
“Honey, let’s go to Home Depot before we go to dinner just to make sure we will be getting the appliances tomorrow.”  He agreed so we made a quick Home Depot run.  After being presented with the receipt, the smiling customer service representative explained*,
“Don’t worry Señora.  They will call you tomorrow morning and let you know when everything will arrive.”

The following day I arrive at the house at 8:00.  I wanted to be SURE that I was there in time for the delivery.  Ten o’clock came, eleven, twelve, no call.  I started to feel a little concerned around 2:30, so I sucked it up and called Home Depot again.  After being transferred about a few times, a customer service agent told me* the delivery truck would be here within 30 minutes. Around 4:30, the goods arrived!!  I knew the washer and dryer were going to be installed the following morning, but all I wanted to do was plug in the fridge and get back to the hotel.
 
“NO NO NO Señora!  You can’t do that!” the delivery men yelled*.  “Everything will be installed tomorrow.”

Gentlemen, please plug in the fridge!!!!
Seriously?  All I had to do was plug in the fridge, but I didn’t want to mess up any kind of warranty so I packed up my devices and headed back to the hotel.  The next morning the workers showed up on time to install everything!  They plugged in the fridge and installed the washer and dryer.  The kind gentlemen even started the washer to make sure everything was working.  After we turned on th a stream of water started running down the back of the machine.  Great. The technician then stepped outside to make a few calls. 

He returned to our third floor laundry room a few minutes later and informed me that Home Depot would call me later that day to set up a time and day for the new washer.  The kind men left, and I waited.  I didn’t hear anything by the end of the day, so I went back to the store to arrange a time.  They said Monday they would deliver the new washer.  I could handle that.  Monday morning…no phone call. Early afternoon…no phone call.  Boiling with frustration, I called Home Depot and was transferred to a couple of different stores.  Finally, I got an answer.  My washer would be coming at 4:30. 4:30 arrived, but the washer was nowhere to be found. I called Home Depot again. 
            “Can we bring it a little later? Like 6:30?”  they asked.* 
            “NO!!! I am supposed to be meeting a friend for dinner!!” I stammered.
            “What about tomorrow?” They asked. 
            “Fine, TOMORROW.” I replied.

I felt defeated and exhausted. I was a prisoner in my own home serving a sentence that would end after our washer arrived.  I could make no plans. I had no friends in my neighborhood. Chris was at work the entire day.  All I had was Leia (the dachshund) and Netflix to keep me company.  I was pretty pathetic.

The next day arrived.  No phone call in the morning (again). Made a phone call around 2:30 (again). Was told that the washer would be coming at 4:30. (Do you see a pattern?)  Around 5:00, the washer arrived!!!  However, Home Depot sent only one person to install the washer.  The very sweet delivery man called the office in search of help.  About 45 minutes later a couple of his friends showed up, the leaky machine was swapped out and finally the new machine was installed!  I finally had a working washer and dryer!

I really wish I could say this was an isolated incident, however I had similar experiences with other companies when getting settled. 
  • Home Depot delivered our outdoor furniture at 9:30 PM the day it was promised after telling me they couldn’t deliver the furniture because they didn’t have the set in the store.
  • Sky TV sold me a DVR package that had equipment which no longer existed, so I had to wait TWO WEEKS (and 5 different installation appointments) to get our DVR.
  • Our sea freight from the US (our furniture, kitchen goods, some clothes, basically everything we needed to get our home settled) arrived almost ONE MONTH late. We spent this time sleeping on airbeds and relaxing in fantastic lawn chairs from Sam’s.

    These chairs were a FANTASTIC investment.
The day the movers arrived was by far the happiest day of the summer.

Despite their late arrival time, the movers had all of our furniture assembled and all of the boxes off the truck by 9:30.

Now that we are settled in our home, I can laugh about how I was the worst version of myself.  (How did I become the person who breaks down over a missing DVR?? There are millions of people who have it much tougher that I did!)  Looking back on the experiences, I learned some good lessons.

Things to Keep In Mind When Moving to Mexico
  • Life in Mexico is slow. Tasks that are simple in the US take significantly longer down here.  Plan accordingly.  Bring a book, device or other form of entertainment when you are setting up new accounts or are completing any kind of paperwork.

    It took us about three hours to open a new account at Citibanamex...we even brought a translator.
  • Don’t make plans on delivery day.  At times workers are extremely punctual, however MANY times it will be necessary to wait all day for deliveries or service providers. In some cases, tardiness is socially acceptable.
Not all service providers are slow.  Our internet providers are always on time and love playing with Leia.  She loved charming the workmen.
  • Have your Spanish speaking friends help arrange services.  Our relocation agent and landlord helped SO much when I finally was too overwhelmed to speak.  I often wonder if we wouldn’t have had as many problems if I had asked for more help.
  • Have a portable project that can help you pass the time.  This way, you can feel like you are accomplishing something despite the idle time.
At times, my needlepoint kept me sane while waiting.


Finally when stressed out because life is significantly slower, take a deep breath and tell yourself,
“This too shall pass.  Life will not always be despacio.”


*Keep in mind most transactions occur in rapid fire Mexican Spanish, not your textbook classroom Spanish.

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