Friday, June 15, 2012

Mexican Mysteries



We've learned many things about Merida in the 6 weeks we’ve been here.  Most of what we’ve learned makes sense to us, but some things don’t.  We’ve come to consider these things as “Mexican Mysteries”.  There is no judgment intended.  In fact, we think it’s our Norte Americano, practical, linear thinking, time obsessed minds that stand in the way of our understanding and chalk it up to cultural differences.   We wanted to share a few of the mysteries we’ve pondered with you.

The mail....

Our mailbox is right next to the entry door of the house and we check it almost every day.   In the time we’ve been here only two pieces of mail have been delivered.  Interestingly, neither one of them was in the mailbox.  The mail is left anywhere that is convenient for the deliverer, between the ironwork in the gate or on the ground in front of the door.  
Both pieces of mail that came were bills from the local utility companies and were delivered not by the post office, but by a utility company employee.  Both were wedged in the iron grill outside the front door, neither had an envelope.   We wonder why everyone has a mailbox, many of them quite fancy, but no one uses them.

It may be 5 o’clock somewhere, but not here in Merida....

Not long after we arrived in Merida we took a walk to the supermarket to pick up a few groceries.  We went early, to beat the heat. We had everything on our list, about a dozen items, when we proceeded to the checkout counter.  There were about 15 checkout lanes in the store, 4 of which were open, and 3 of them were “rapido” for those shoppers with less than 20 items.  We were definitely within the 20 item limit, so we zipped into the “rapido” line and started to put our items on the conveyor belt when the clerk points to the contents our cart, squints her eyes together, and says to us in Spanish, “diez”, which is a word we actually know.  It’s the number 10.  We have more than 10 items, but the sign says 20, so we’re not sure what’s going on.   She’s adamant though and keeps repeating the word and waving us away. 

Confused, we went and stood in the regular checkout line which was a much longer wait.  When it was our turn, the same thing happened, the clerk started saying something in rapid fire Spanish, and about the only word we understood was “diez” again.  We looked at one another, both really baffled at this point, when the guy behind us (who probably thought he was never going to get through the line) tells us what the problem is.  We’ve got three bottles of wine in the cart and, in Merida, you can only buy alcohol between 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.   Ah, “diez” we say, nodding our heads, comprehension of our situation dawning at last.  
Understanding, well, that’s a whole other matter....

Other things we wonder about….

Why the police drive around with their vehicle’s flashing lights on all the time and use their loud speaker to get your attention…..why they will tow away some people out in front of our house, but not others…. why the church bells ring at odd hours and never the same number of times….why the gardener didn’t tell us he wouldn’t be around to mow the lawn and just assumed we’d know he went to Oaxaca….why, when construction is done, the custom is to break into the walls after they’ve been built to install the plumbing and wiring…. and lastly, how we are supposed to identify which vendor is outside by the honking of their horn as they drive down the street?  Is it the propane guy or the ice cream vendor?