Have I ever told you about our good friend T.I.M.? T.I.M.introduced himself to us not too long after we crossed the border on our drive down to Mexico and has been a constant in our lives ever since. He isn’t always the greatest of friends, sometimes I get really angry and frustrated with him, but I’ve also accepted that he is going to be a constant in our life for the foreseeable future.  So I feel I should introduce you to T.I.M. or as he is also known – This Is Mexico.

Every day we come across things that are different and unique and confusing and to be quite honest make absolutely zero sense to us. Initially we kept putting our Americanized filter on things and thinking about the way things ‘should’ be done or how we were used to things being done. After a while we realized we were asking ‘why’ constantly and not really getting any answers and only growing increasingly frustrated. This eventually led us to T.I.M. These days when something happens that frustrates us or confuses us or makes no sense we pause, take a deep breath, and ask T.I.M. if he’d care to join us for a drink.

Where and when does T.I.M. show up? Well we’re currently in Playa del Carmen for a few days and needed to get some cash out of the ATM to pay some bills. You can’t walk more than a block or two down Fifth Avenue without passing multiple ATMS offering up pesos and dollars so no problem, right?

Mexico ATM
Closed. Taped shut. All of them.

I walked for blocks, and blocks and blocks. No pesos. No dollars to be found. Every single ATM was shut down. All 10,853 or so of them. Which really confuses me because that is prime tourist area and I don’t understand why anyone would want to stop the tourists from getting money out and spending it here. I have no idea why they’re all taped shut, rumor is it’s a dispute over fees not being paid to the government. But I don’t know and asking why isn’t going to get me anywhere so I just got T.I.M. some fresh towels since it seems he’ll be here for awhile and headed to an actual bank to get cash.

Other examples?

I have stood in multiple grocery store lines waiting patiently for the cashier to finish his or her text or conversation with a co-worker about what they are going to do after work before pausing to check me out. This can often take 5 minutes or more while I stand there patiently waiting.

This Is Mexico
The party these two were talking about sounded like a blast, I wouldn’t have minded an invite.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to reach around someone stocking the shelves at the store to get to what I need. There’s a job to be done so moving out of the way for my convenience isn’t an option.

Stocking the shelves at a Mexican grocery store.
I really wanted spaghetti for dinner.

There have been several instances where we’ve gone to check out of a store and have had the cashier tell us “no hay precio.” Turns out the fact that there is no price tag on the item I’m trying to purchase is my problem – not theirs. They would rather not sell me the item then try to have someone track down a price. I’m really not kidding. To emphasize, I am trying to give them money for something that theoretically the store is wanting to sell and they will not sell it to me because I did not bring them a price tag. I’ve left more than one item behind at the counter because “no hay precio.” We once played a game of chicken at Walmart with a cashier over a crock pot that had no price tag. We eventually won that battle but overall I think we’re losing the war to T.I.M.

Mexican Crock Pot
What we fought so hard for. Of course now that we are on solar energy we can no longer use it.

There are so many other things that I just don’t understand – and probably never will.  Trying to buy a $12 peso (about a $1.00) part at the hardware store required checking out with three different people at three different counters. I still don’t understand the use of turn signals here. And regardless of what your Spanish teacher might have taught you, mañana does not mean tomorrow. I guess it can mean tomorrow, but it could also mean next week or next month. The only thing that’s guaranteed is that it means sometime other right now. When the refrigerator repair guy says he’ll be there on Thursday at 5 p.m. and instead shows up Saturday at 9 a.m.? T.I.M.

But you know what we’ve also come to realize? T.I.M. isn’t all bad. All gas stations here are full-service (including an oil check, air in the tires and a clean windshield) so I never even have to leave my car. Sometimes a place we like to go for dinner brings us a bunch of free food before we ever order. I mean it’s enough that we’re barely hungry when the food we do order finally arrives.  And sometimes you can pay $50 pesos ($3.50) to a guy in a parking lot and come back to a clean car after climbing around some pyramids. And also?

Playa del Carmen beach
This is T.I.M.
Mexico sunset
And this. This is also T.I.M.

T.I.M. hasn’t told us when he’s planning to leave so I’m guessing he’s going to be our guest for awhile (or maybe we’re his?). He’s not always the greatest friend we’ve ever had (although sometimes he can be), but we’ve become quite used to having him around. I now know that I might have to wait for the cashier to finish making her plans for after she gets off work and sometimes I can just reach around the person stocking the shelf (they really don’t seem to care as long as you don’t interrupt their job) and I can even live without the t-shirt I was trying to buy that had no price tag. I can walk into most experiences with the understanding that it might take a bit more time then I think it will. And the thing of it is, what’s my hurry anyway?

We learned a long time ago that instead of being annoyed or frustrated it’s much better to try and embrace the differences. I can’t change the process but I can change how I react to each situation. It helps with our mental health and attitude and after all, this is Mexico. If we wanted things to be exactly the same we never would have moved here in the first place.