Monday, September 15, 2008

Patience, My Friend.

Patience is an art form in Mexico. A good part of our day involves having to wait - waiting in line, waiting for someone to arrive, just simply waiting. It's a small price to pay for living in this beautiful land. Consequently accomplishing even the most simple of tasks can take a good part of the day.

For example, our second day in Playa we bought pay as you go cell phones. Down here most people buy cards to replenish the minutes on their phones rather than purchasing plans. That way one pays only for the minutes used. After purchasing the cheapest phones available we returned home only to find out they didn't work. Go figure.

The next day we returned to the Telcel store, Mexico's largest cell phone provider, and were instructed to stand in the very short technical service line. There were only 2 people in front of us in line and 4 employees assisting clients. After 1 hour it was my turn. ONE HOUR!! Granted I've mentally prepared for this; friends have advised us that waiting down here is part of life. This was a test of just how patient I could really be. I didn't have a book, a video game or music. It was me and my thoughts - what a scary place to be. I mean, really.

Frankly it was very boring. Big surprise. And yes, I really am an idiot because my phone was fine. I was dialing the wrong number. Why not test my patience at the electric company where the line goes around the block? (electric bills - like many bills down here - are paid at the provider's office, often in cash and in person - not via mail or online). Why wait only to have my deepest fears confirmed - that I really am that stupid?

At the ATM today there were 13 people in front of me - THIRTEEN!! In the States I wouldn't wait. Here I patiently gathered in line like anyone else. Did I think I was special or something? Yes, here comes the American, let's part the sea of people and let him pass. Gee, can I touch your shirt and get an autograph?

Not all ATMs are backed up. I just chose to use the one at Santander Bank since they have an agreement with my US bank, Bank of America, whereby I won't be charged fees which can total up to $7US per withdrawal. So in one way it was worth the wait. Of course when I was standing in line I half expected someone to declare the ATM was out of money. The other night the same ATM refused to dispense my cash even though it graciously debited my account. It took a few calls to Bank of America to clear that up.

Needless to say when I was next in line I was prepared for the worst. It figures the guy in front of me took an extra long time - something was not working for him and I was sure the ATM wasn't spitting out cash. But he didn't say a word when exiting the ATM. And when it was my turn I left wallet full without any hassles.

Things down here just move so much slower. Getting our internet installed took 2 weeks since the provider kept postponing - and then we were told they were out of equipment and they'd have to drive to Cancun to get it. In one way I am surprised that anything gets done down here.

In another way we all could use a bit more patience. Life in the States moves so quickly. I feel like I'm goofing off in Playa when I'm not working 8 hours a day or when I take 3 hours in the middle of the day to have lunch, go for a swim and rest. Really - what's the point of rushing? Why not wait 1/2 in line for an ATM (yes, it took 30 minutes) - where else do I have to be?

Playa del Carmen Condo and Villa Vacation Rentals

The line at the ATM - 13 people deep.

Mitzi gets in the Mexican spirit.

Rickey joins in, too!

Allan prepares for Mexican Independence Day. (independence from Spain)

The entrance to Quadra Alea. The roof is called a Palapa roof. They are supposedly hurricane proof.


K.W. Michigan said...

Darling picture of the dogs. They look like they belong in Playa.

Theresa in Mèrida said...

Soon you will learn when to pay bills and hit the atms. Since you aren't on the same schedule as most people you can take advantage of it. Here you don't want to shop or pay bills close to the quincena (first and fifteenth) which are the paydays. The atm is usually crowded on Fridays and Saturdays. We shop early in the day rather than in the evening. You'll learn what the schedule is like where you live, and it will get a little easier.

Libby said...

Patience is definitely a virtue here. But there are some ways to avoid trying your patience quite so often. Theresa already left you some great tips. Also, you can pay your CFE bill at the automated kiosks or a number of stores. Check the bottom of your CFE bill for info. You can also pay via EFT if you have a Mexican bank account. You can pay the water bill at Oxxo for a small fee - 5 pesoss or so. And you can pay the Cablemas bill via credit card through their website. Just make sure that if you use one of these methods that you pay at least 48 hours prior to your due date. Things are not real time here. Good luck.

susiej said...

I pay my CFE online from the states through Bancomer. Just set it up last summer. I used to pay at Mega or Walmart.