Mexico Connect
Forums  > General > Living, Working, Retiring
First page Previous page 1 2 Next page Last page  View All


kwschopf


Sep 17, 2007, 3:41 PM

Post #1 of 30 (4367 views)

Shortcut

Time urgency and cultural differences

Can't Post | Private Reply
My husband and I were sitting on our lovely warm (but shady) patio in Bucerias late this afternoon, sipping an iced coffee and watching the iguanas climb the mimosa tree. We had just received delivery of a new bathtub that was supposed to be here early this morning, and could not help wondering just how much time we spend waiting for people who never show up, or who show up late late late. We are very happy living in Mexico (have been here a year and a half), but are having a problem adjusting to this cultural difference. Just a few examples: (1) for the third Monday in a row, NONE of our workers showed up today (we are having an upper story built on our house) - yes, I know about San Lunes and that yesterday was a holiday. The contractor has told us three weeks in a row that he will start building the stairs to the third level, and we keep waiting for him, but he never comes; (2) It took us 10 months to get our new 220v electricity hooked up (I won't recount the entire saga). The last excuse CFE gave us was that some trees needed to be trimmed, and said they would be back in a hour. A month went by, and finally Jerry flagged down a CFE truck driving by, offered them a $200 MXP propina, and it got hooked up in 25 minutes; (3) we arranged with three different people to come and trim our palm trees. The first two just never showed up when they said they would be here, and finally the third time was a charm; (4) We stayed home for 17 days in a row waiting for Telecable to come and hook up the cable when we lived in Vallarta. They kept saying "esta tarde", but it didn't happen. I could go on and on, but I'm feeling my blood pressure rise...

I don't think this type of experience is unique to us, or happens because we are gringos...our Mexican friends have similar experiences. Because we are retired, it usually doesn't bother us that much, but if we have important errands to run (bank, post office, doctor) and we sit home hour after hour, day after day waiting for someone who does not show up, we begin to get frustrated.

I know that there are people on this board who live all over Mexico...do other people have similar experiences? How do you deal with it? (I think I already know the answer to this one - "get used to it.") It is true that this casual, laid back approach to life is part of what attracted us to Mexico in the first place...so I guess I am just venting. Anyone share our frustrations? Thanks for listening - Karen



bournemouth

Sep 17, 2007, 3:59 PM

Post #2 of 30 (4349 views)

Shortcut

Re: [kwschopf] Time urgency and cultural differences

Can't Post | Private Reply
Your propina is what a Mexican friend of ours calls "El poder de doscientos pesos". He used to work for CFE and will call for us at any time - 200 pesos always produces someone to do the work immediately. It seems to work for Telmex too.
We waited over a year for 2 new meters from CFE - he finally came to our rescue and 400 pesos produced two meters. CFE always offered the excuse that they were out of meters - really - that's a hard one to believe - but we weren't the only ones waiting for meters so maybe there was a very slight tinge of truth to the excuse.


Ed and Fran

Sep 17, 2007, 4:26 PM

Post #3 of 30 (4341 views)

Shortcut

Re: [kwschopf] Time urgency and cultural differences

Can't Post | Private Reply
Since you asked, we'll just chime in with our view on the issue.


I don't think this type of experience is unique to us, or happens because we are gringos...

Nope, it's just the way things are.


Because we are retired, it usually doesn't bother us that much...

There you go, that's the right attitude. Being retired really helps in this type of situation.


... but if we have important errands to run (bank, post office, doctor) and we sit home hour after hour, day after day waiting for someone who does not show up, we begin to get frustrated.

Don't wait if you have something to do, go ahead and take care of it. In the slight chance that the person who you're waiting for decides to appear at that moment, too bad. They'll come back again. You might have to wait a bit longer, but at least your important errands get taken care of.


How do you deal with it? (I think I already know the answer to this one - "get used to it.")

You see, you already know the answer. Good for you two.


...so I guess I am just venting. Anyone share our frustrations? Thanks for listening

Feel free to vent. It sometimes helps to just get things off your chest. We can say that we share your experiences and problems, but maybe we don't share the frustration to the same degree because we deal with it slightly differently.

In fact, my attitute towards time (and things like arriving on time) has changed since being here full time. Somotimes I need to consciously adjust when we're back NOB. And sometimes we just show up late...

Best regards

Ed & Fran


Rolly


Sep 17, 2007, 7:23 PM

Post #4 of 30 (4313 views)

Shortcut

Re: [kwschopf] Time urgency and cultural differences

Can't Post | Private Reply
Many things run on Mexican time. A hard concept for some gringos to buy into, but worth the effort.

In my town there is a hardware store where we often can't find what we want in stock, but they will gladly order it. "It will be here at 1:00 tomorrow." Of course it never is, so we have started to call the place the one o'clock store.

Workers not showing up on Monday is a fairly common problem.

Tips before hand really do wonders in Mexico, as you have learned.

It does seem the CFE has a meter shortage problem. Our meter has been stuck for many months -- it passes the juice, but doesn't record it. We told CFE, and the meter reader surely notices, but they have not bothered to change it. They just charge us the minimum, and we certainly aren't going to complain. So sometimes living on Mexican time can be a good thing.

Rolly Pirate


thriftqueen

Sep 17, 2007, 9:17 PM

Post #5 of 30 (4292 views)

Shortcut

Re: [kwschopf] Time urgency and cultural differences

Can't Post | Private Reply
How do you deal with it? (I think I already know the answer to this one - "get used to it.")

It does require emotional work, but getting used to it can be done. Just take a deep breath, relax and remember hey, this is Mexico. This is our mantra and the longer you are here the better you can become at it. (with lots of practice)


sioux4noff

Sep 17, 2007, 9:36 PM

Post #6 of 30 (4285 views)

Shortcut

Re: [kwschopf] Time urgency and cultural differences

Can't Post | Private Reply
Since you are often over there waiting for....., I think I need to stop by soon for an iced coffee. Got any cookies, or is it too hot?
And they do have a lovely shaded patio!
See ya soon!


(This post was edited by sioux4noff on Sep 17, 2007, 9:36 PM)


Georgia


Sep 18, 2007, 7:46 AM

Post #7 of 30 (4255 views)

Shortcut

Re: [kwschopf] Time urgency and cultural differences

Can't Post | Private Reply
Refer to #2 on your comments about getting CFE to hook up the electricity. You ARE getting the hang of it.


Linda in Morelia

Sep 18, 2007, 6:02 PM

Post #8 of 30 (4190 views)

Shortcut

Re: [kwschopf] Time urgency and cultural differences

Can't Post | Private Reply
Your posting reminds me of why I don't want to do a construction project in Mexico. Not that you shield yourself from inexplicable and frustrating delays in normal day-to-day living, but without a construction project, it reduces the frustration level, me thinks. My husband, on the other hand, is very open to buying a home that needs to be gutted and built anew. And I suppose it's a way to save beaucoup dollars, but still.....I think about the emotional cost. So, this will be something we will need to work out.

We are arriving in Guadalajara Dec. 1st for a 6 month trial run before we move to Mexico permanently. We have spent 2 to 3 months in Mexico during the last year, so this is the final test. I read one book that was particular insightful on this topic: Mexicans & Americans: Cracking the Cultural Code by Ned Crouch.

All the best to you,
Linda


kwschopf


Sep 18, 2007, 6:32 PM

Post #9 of 30 (4186 views)

Shortcut

Re: [Jim and Linda] Time urgency and cultural differences

Can't Post | Private Reply
Linda, you are right about avoiding frustration by not building or remodeling a house. I'm not sure I would do this again. We did buy a house that was structurally sound, but muy rustica. We fell in love with the lot, which was covered in mature shade trees, and the house has a unique circular front that appealed to the artist in both of us. But it has been a challenging year, and we will both be very glad when it is all done. (Who am I kidding? It will never be ALL done.) When you are so dependent on the reliability of others to achieve your goals, it can be disappointing when achieving those goals is not as important to them as it is to you. Having said that, all of the workers we have hired have been friendly, courteous, pleasant people to have around, and very tolerant of our efforts to learn how to communicate with them. Some have become our good friends. The experience has had many positive sides to it.

Thanks to all of you for your sincere and encouraging advice. I just want to add one thing: none of the workers showed up yesterday. When they did not show up today, we were puzzled. About 11 am, the contractor arrives: the entire work crew was offered more money to go build a house in Mascota, and they have all left. Now, he is trying to recruit a new crew....smile, you are in Mexico! Karen


Jerry@Ajijic

Sep 18, 2007, 7:13 PM

Post #10 of 30 (4177 views)

Shortcut

Re: [kwschopf] Time urgency and cultural differences

Can't Post | Private Reply
I really regret that you can not easily pass damaged Mexican money. There have been many times when I would have liked to hand HALF of a Mexican bill to someone and say "if you are back here on time and do what you promised I will give you the other half".


Don Moore


Sep 18, 2007, 7:59 PM

Post #11 of 30 (4162 views)

Shortcut

Re: [kwschopf] Time urgency and cultural differences

Can't Post | Private Reply
I am very curious. Has anyone ever said "If you are not here at the appointed time, or within .....(fill in the blank) of the appointed time, do not bother to come at all. I will be getting another person to do the job."? AND/OR has anyone just offered a premium (not a tip, but a straightout cash offer as part of the "contract"), to start and finish the job by a given time and do it right?
I have lived in other cultures where time was an issue and I endured the difference, so I don't have to have that explained,but I am just curious if this has been tried and with what result.
Don Moore


jerezano

Sep 19, 2007, 7:32 AM

Post #12 of 30 (4133 views)

Shortcut

Re: [Don Moore] Time urgency and cultural differences

Can't Post | Private Reply
Hello,

Remodeling or constructing a house here in Mexico is not something to be considered lightly. As our fellow posters and I have testified from experience, the projects do not flow smoothly as they usually do in the United States.

But, if one wants his/her own home, unless buying a modern home built to our accustomed wants and needs, eg. SMA, Ajijic and the Lake Chapala Area, Puerto Vallarta, some of the other expensive beach developmensts, La Manzanilla for example, etc. practically any existing home in Mexico will need to be remodeled for comfortable living. That remodeling can vary from minor to major. Anyone who has ever remodeled or constructed knows the problems of living in that project during the work period.

There is good news however. In the United States the major cost of remodeling or of constructing is in the labor. In Mexico the major cost is in the materials. As a result, one can build a $70,000 usd or more home for less than half the cost in the United States. Maybe even as low as one third the cost depending where you build.

As to the cultural differences, they exist, they cannot be changed, so one simply MUST adapt.

A simple example. I have an $800 refrigerator that works real well except the switch to the interior light has ceased functioning. A $15 or $20 part. Nobody can get me a replacement switch. Nobody can replace the part even if I could get a replacement. Nobody can jury-rig a new switch. So: either I live with a refrigerator into which I cannot see, or I buy a brand new $800 refrigerator. Or I find an angel somewhere who can fix the problem. See what I mean? Adapt.

Adiós. jerezano


Gringal

Sep 19, 2007, 12:27 PM

Post #13 of 30 (4101 views)

Shortcut

Re: [jerezano] Time urgency and cultural differences

Can't Post | Private Reply
And.....all contractors are not created equal. We bought an old Mexican house in Ajijic. It was a plumbing disaster, so we hired a contractor recommended by a friend who'd used him several years before. The experience was a nightmare of delays, re-do's, people ticking like taximeters while waiting for the jefe to deliver the tools they needed for the job; wrong parts arriving and all the other stuff others have mentioned. My fave was the arrival of the crew around nine, followed by the departure of the crew for breakfast. If we were lucky, actual work started around 10:30. When that phase of things ended, we waved them "adios" and thought we'd give ourselves a vacation for a few weeks, but we were introduced by a neighbor to a different jefe. With a sigh, we pointed him at a project to see what would happen. Milagro ! His crew showed up at 8 a.m., brought the tools needed, worked like bees, cleaned up at the end of the day and did an excellent job. We kept on adding tasks and by the time they were done, our old house has a new lease on life. So, it depends. Mostly, it depends on how much competition for jobs is in the area. Our new jefe and his crew were out of work and hungry for more. The first fella had three jobs going at once. Nuff said?

But as far as the things that don't go so well, we take a deep breath and say "Hey dude, it's Mexico."


(This post was edited by Gringal on Sep 19, 2007, 12:28 PM)


thriftqueen

Sep 19, 2007, 2:22 PM

Post #14 of 30 (4078 views)

Shortcut

Re: [Gringal] Time urgency and cultural differences

Can't Post | Private Reply
Gringal, you are right it depends on the crew you hire. Living in an all Mexican barrio we used the local "boys" to build our casa. And they worked much like you describe your first crew working. However they worked much cheaper than the real contractors who work for the A list Americanos. The A group contractor labor bill is much higher and the work goes faster but we chose the "cheep" route as my husband was on site full time to supervise and we have the philosophy, more time than money.

Funny story, our local workers were constructing a brick wall for us. Alamos being a relative small pueblo, 8,000 population, give or take, everyone knows everyone else, right? After my guys taking off for the 3rd time in one week to help dig 3 graves, I told Miguel, the jefe, "I don't care if Presidente Fox dies you can't take off again to help dig a grave until this wall is finished". It got great laughs and they finished up on time.


jwander

Sep 19, 2007, 5:53 PM

Post #15 of 30 (4046 views)

Shortcut

Re: [thriftqueen] Time urgency and cultural differences

Can't Post | Private Reply
There is a great book out, " Mexican and Americans,Cracking the Cultural Code " by Ned Crouch. Apparently Mr Crouch has advised many North American businesses on setting up shop in Mexico.
I thought it was really helpful in understanding many business and personal aspects of the Mexican culture. Aren't we really doing business there every day we live or vacation there ? I think it is worth the read for anyone planning on spending a lot of time there.

Que la vida bien.


Gringal

Sep 20, 2007, 7:12 AM

Post #16 of 30 (4000 views)

Shortcut

Re: [jwander] Time urgency and cultural differences

Can't Post | Private Reply
In the Warren Hardy Spanish Course, he devotes one early session to the subject of protocol and customs. An excellent lesson.
In the Visual Link Spanish CD course we use for home study, they devote a section to the differences in doing business or socializing between the U.S. and Mexico. A good one.

We NOB folks do tend to want to get right down to business. Mexicans take their time.


jennifer rose

Sep 20, 2007, 7:24 AM

Post #17 of 30 (3997 views)

Shortcut

Re: [Gringal] Time urgency and cultural differences

Can't Post |
At http://www.mexconnected.com/.../ldcpunctuality.html, Luis Dumois has an excellent article about punctuality.


Georgia


Sep 20, 2007, 8:12 AM

Post #18 of 30 (3987 views)

Shortcut

Re: [jennifer rose] Time urgency and cultural differences

Can't Post | Private Reply
I loved the article! So true. Years ago I worked as a consultant for a US business that sent its executives to South America to live and do business there. My job was to go to the home of the executive, teach survival Spanish not only to the exec but his wife and family, how to do business, how to deal with servants, and how to provide the social atmosphere that permits business to be done.

We've had several building projects done here. Frankly, I prefer the slow pace. It allows me to assess the situation and make mid-course corrections as the job goes along. I long ago ditched the idea of a contractor. We have found people with the skills we need to do a good and honest job. I prefer two men I know well, doing a building project over the course of a year, that could be done in four months by a larger crew of people I didn't know. At the end of the day, we sit down and mull over ideas and improvements on the plan. As the English expression goes: "haste never drove a very good bargain." On the rare occasions when we actually have a deadline, because a tenant is arriving, or some such, I do give advance (one or two months') notice and we do reward meeting deadlines when it becomes necessary to have one. (P.S. I also lie a lot about the date.)

And notice to those who would invite Mexican houseguests: the arrival time may be set, but the departure time may extend much farther than you might anticipate. Actually, in our experience, sometimes the departure date has never arrived and guests have simply morphed into family members. And those "guests'" families have morphed into cousins, aunts and uncles and life is good.

So here, I guess, the question is .."do you want it done right now, or do you want it done right." Besides, you may get your dwelling all built to discover that CFE has run out of wire, or the TelMex doesn't have poles in your area, or that .............. well, one never knows. But it's ok. It will eventually all come together but in the meantime, party on anyway.


alex .

Sep 20, 2007, 2:34 PM

Post #19 of 30 (3940 views)

Shortcut

Re: [kwschopf] Time urgency and cultural differences

Can't Post | Private Reply
I figured out my wife's approach to Mexican time: If she has an appointment for,say, 3 o'clock then 3 is the hour that she leaves the house. It matters not if the location of appointment is five minutes, twenty minutes, or an hour away.
Alex


(This post was edited by alex . on Sep 20, 2007, 2:34 PM)


viejogatomalo

Sep 20, 2007, 4:16 PM

Post #20 of 30 (3925 views)

Shortcut

Re: [Rolly] Time urgency and cultural differences

Can't Post | Private Reply
WOW I would like to find out how to get my electric meter stuck !


Rolly


Sep 20, 2007, 5:25 PM

Post #21 of 30 (3908 views)

Shortcut

Re: [viejomalogato] Time urgency and cultural differences

Can't Post | Private Reply
Bush's Beans dog Duke will sell you the instructions.

Rolly Pirate


Judy in Ags


Sep 20, 2007, 6:51 PM

Post #22 of 30 (3893 views)

Shortcut

Re: [Georgia] Time urgency and cultural differences

Can't Post | Private Reply
"We've had several building projects done here. Frankly, I prefer the slow pace. It allows me to assess the situation and make mid-course corrections as the job goes along. I long ago ditched the idea of a contractor. We have found people with the skills we need to do a good and honest job. I prefer two men I know well, doing a building project over the course of a year, that could be done in four months by a larger crew of people I didn't know."

The quote from Georgia above is exactly our experience and philosophy. Six people have done 99% of the work on the house: Judy (I)--the designer and co-consultant, part-time painter, wood finisher, John, the general contractor, purchaser, carpenter, etc., Jesus, the bricklayer, installer of all tile, plasterer, etc., and his son and helper, Juan (who also paints beautifully), Jose, the plumber and electrician (and very good at both) and Javier, the balconero. Is it not interesting that all our names start with "J"? We realize that we have been extremely blessed to have these extremely capable and dependable people building our house. Now they are building my brother-in-law's house across the street from us. Not only has their great performance been wonderful for us, but has kept them in work for over four years and probably a couple more.



tashby


Sep 22, 2007, 6:58 PM

Post #23 of 30 (3789 views)

Shortcut

Re: [kwschopf] Time urgency and cultural differences

Can't Post | Private Reply
This is a great thread!.....and this is my first Mexconnected post!....just had to say.

(Been a member for a couple of months, have been devouring lots and lots in the archives, since we're just beginning the process. Have all kinds of questions, but am deliberately trying to research so as not to ask "those questions" again.)

Back to topic....was just visiting a place last week in the mountains of Sierra Madre del Sur, and came across a 30 year-old book highlighting various places in Mexico and touching on some of the cultural differences. Bizarrely, as old as the book was, a lot of it seemed to hold up. Tucked within it was a description of the word manana. Yes, it said, of course it can literally mean tomorrow, but it can also mean anything and everything including the very, very vague "at some point in the future".

At least that's what that old book said.

¡Saludos!

Travis


(This post was edited by tashby on Sep 22, 2007, 7:02 PM)


Rolly


Sep 22, 2007, 7:16 PM

Post #24 of 30 (3784 views)

Shortcut

Re: [tashby] Time urgency and cultural differences

Can't Post | Private Reply
The most all-inclusive definition I have found: Mañana = not today.

Rolly Pirate


home-sweet-mexico.com

Oct 14, 2007, 11:42 PM

Post #25 of 30 (3650 views)

Shortcut

Re: [Rolly] Time urgency and cultural differences

Can't Post | Private Reply
Rolly, You can always explain confusing aspects about Mexico in a way that makes them easy to understand!

I have heard about the book Mexicans and Americans, Cracking the Cultural Code by Ned Crouch and I really want to read it. The longer I live in Mexico the more I believe that there isn't enough discussion about cultural differences between Mexico and the U.S. and Canada.

As an expat it is information that is vital to my "success" in Mexico, yet it's very hard to find.
Julia Taylor
Creator of http://www.home-sweet-mexico.com and author of Mexico: The Trick is Living Here.
First page Previous page 1 2 Next page Last page  View All
 
 
Search for (advanced search) Powered by Gossamer Forum v.1.2.4