Sometimes living in Mexico is exhausting. It’s amazing to me how much we took for granted in the United States of things we just knew how to do. You want water? Just turn on the tap. You need to park your car? Look for the appropriate signs. But a switch of countries and native languages and suddenly we’re like babies learning how to do everything from scratch.

For example? An oil change. We had everything tuned up on the car a couple days before we left Kansas City to drive down to Playa del Carmen but six days and close to 3,000 miles later we were due again. Here’s where the exhausting part comes in. Back in Kansas City I’d be driving along, realize I need an oil change and pull into the nearest Jiffy Lube without giving it any thought. Here? Preparing for a trip to the phone store or immigration or to get the oil changed just requires so much preparation. Before even walking out the door we have to think about where can we go? Do they have oil change places here or do we need to go to a dealership? Do you just pull into the garage like in the States? How do you ask for an oil change in Spanish? How do you respond in Spanish when he asks what kind of oil to put in? What brand of oil do they have here? What kind do we need for our car now that we’re in a different climate? I’m going to have to pay in cash, do I have enough pesos?

It’s almost like we need to mentally gear up for  some of these mundane tasks that we have to do because there’s a chance we’re either going to look foolish, offend someone or spend more money than we needed to. If we can limit the offenses to two out of three while accomplishing our goal I usually consider that a successful trip.

Of course all of these things would be infinitely easier (and less intimidating) if we were fluent in Spanish.  It’s a work in progress – we’ve started a program – but that doesn’t change the fact that we need to continue to live and get by day-to-day here right now, including getting our oil changed. The good news? Mission accomplished.

Getting an oil change in Mexico
In case you’re wondering, oil change is cambio de aceite in Spanish.
Oil Change in Playa del Carmen
If you could only see how perilously close I came to driving directly into the hole in the floor.

As an FYI, I would not recommend asking for what kind of oil they recommend because you’ll likely find yourself driving around with titanium oil. Based on how much the oil costs that they eventually ended up giving us that was ‘recommended’ I’m guessing there’s diamonds sprinkled in there.

Oil Change in Playa del Carmen
It’s like being at a bar, when they reach for the top shelf oil you know you’re getting the expensive stuff.

Overall the Playa del Carmen oil change took 30 minutes and cost $650 pesos. I think this was one of the many times that we live and learn and spend a few extra dollars to figure out the system. So now I have figured out how to get water delivered, how to get a local telephone and the oil changed in the car, but I am still figuring out where the legal places are to park.

What I can tell you is that each time we accomplish what we set out to do, no matter how long it took or how many people laughed at us, or how exhausting the preparation and actual effort was, we give ourselves a little pat on the back because the easy way of doing things? Well we left that back in the United States.