Life Alongside The Lake

Life Alongside The Lake

By Bob Mitchell

 

Sunset at Lake ChapalaYou never know when the gardener will come—but when he finally arrives, he does a wonderful job. You never know when the maid will show up, and when she leaves, you are left in a mild panic. Where did she put this and that, especially that stuff that’s been collecting mold in the back of the frig for the last week. And then all the workers come, but rarely on time, though they do eventually get the job done. Mañana style.

Then there are those people in bright uniforms, none of whom can speak English (though English-speaking people comprise the bulk of their “clientele”), who slyly rub their fingers under your nose so that their fellow officers can’t see.

And how about those endless forms for the banks and various officials? Then the phone bills with their mysterious designations. But who in his right mind calls Zanzibar twice a week? Yet at least the phone works. Most of the time.

Then there are the courteous waiters in the restaurants. But never go back to one where you failed to leave a generous tip. Waiters here at Lakeside have memories like elephants.

Another of my favorite things here is the power failures which erase my phone messages and can even ruin your VCR programming and computer storage system. And how about those buses with no mufflers that start up at 5:30am like an alarm clock, and the roosters that commence their long distance calling an hour earlier? And the blaring church bells and vendors honking their horns or yelling into their loud speakers; or the fireworks at any hour?

So why, in the midst of all this bumptious confusion and egregious disorganization, are so many people happy here?

The secret, of course (which all Mexicans are born knowing), is to succumb gracefully to the Mañana Syndrome. Learn that patience, love of fun and family and food and sun are more important than time and money, or better, faster and more.

Yet many gringos who have been here for more than a quarter century still resist this simple injunction. They go on bitching in their beer, thinking the Mexicans can be shamed into changing their ways. But the Mañana Syndrome will outlast us all. So instead of complaining, let’s try to remember what the lawyers call “off-setting values.”

For instance: less crime, and many wonderful activities such as groups for writers, walkers, gardeners, artists, computer types, amateur actors, and dance enthusiasts.

Not to speak of the fact that prices here are -virtually straight across the board- about half of what our fellow citizens north of the border pay.

But the greatest compensating values are the cheerful people and wonderful weather. So the lesson we must learn is this: slow down, live longer and be happy. Hasta Mañana, anyway!

Ojo Del Lago
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