Tag Archives: Querétaro Mexico

The drop-ins

Here we are! What’s on the stove? Where’s the tequila? Let’s dance!

LIVING IN Mexico can be a challenge. Don’t let anybody fool you with that “it’s magical” hooey.

The pluses outweigh the minuses, of course, but some of those minuses can be maddening, especially to me.

Way up the list is what I call the “Mexican yes,” or as I often say it to my child bride, “el sí mexicano.”

She does not dispute the point.

This refers to the custom of responding positively to pretty much everything. Are you coming tomorrow to fix the faucet? Yes!  Are you coming to lunch tomorrow? Yes! It’s always yes, and it never has any connection to reality whatsoever.

Maybe you’ll come. Maybe you won’t. No telling.

The only exception to this occurs when the positive response is not yes, but no. Are you going to drive my car that I’m loaning you 200 kph over potholes? No!

But, like all Mexicans, I have become accustomed to the “Mexican yes,” knowing that it’s meaningless.

By the way, the “Mexican yes” is just one example of a broader problem, which is rampant lying. This habit stems from trying to make other people feel good on one hand, and avoiding embarrassment to yourself on the other hand.

Mexicans get embarrassed a lot.

Most of the lying falls into the “little white lie” category, the fib. It’s no big thing really, but it becomes a bigger thing due to its being spectacularly widespread.

What all this means is that you often cannot depend on what people say. I am convinced this is a major factor in our not running a First-World economy, which relies on trust.

There is little trust between the Rio Bravo and the Guatemalan border. Probably not south of the Guatemalan border either, but I have never been there, so I don’t know.

I suspect this is not a Mexican thing, but a Latino thing.

But it’s not lying or lack of trust that inspires me today. It’s another Mexican habit that drives me nuts.

It’s the drop-in.

If relatives want to visit, they just do so with no warning whatsoever, and it can happen at any hour of the day or night. And they rarely do so individually or in couples.

Think groups. I call them mobs.

Do they phone first to let you know they’re on their way? Do they wait for an invite? Do they think for a nanosecond that you may be busy with someone or something else? Do they attempt not to come right at a meal time? No.

My wife says this is just part of the culture, and nobody thinks anything of it, including the recipients of the drop-in. Relatives are always welcome. Always!

I very much doubt this. I think the recipients of the drop-in often are faking it to avoid that widespread embarrassment.

We usually end our days the same way. I make a big salad for the two of us. We’re in our PJs, and we sit in our recliners upstairs, eat and watch a movie on Netflix. This rarely varies, and I do not want to hear the doorbell. It will be ignored.

We had been eating our salads for about 45 seconds last Saturday night when my child bride’s phone rang. Here we come! it was said in Spanish, the five relatives driving down from Querétaro.

They were five minutes away. They knew when they left Querétaro hours earlier that they were coming here. They surely knew the day before, but did they let us know? Of course not.

It would have ruined the drop-in!

The five of them sat in our living room for over an hour, shooting the breeze while our salads wilted upstairs. Then they got up and headed downtown at 9 p.m. to “drop in” on other relatives who had no clue they were coming either.

Actually, we got off lucky because they did not decide to spend the night on our floor. The other relatives won that prize.

The drop-in.

Living in Mexico can be a challenge.

Year of cancer

NO, NOT ME. And not quite a year either.

Last January, a nephew discovered he had cancer. The problem began when testicular cancer was misdiagnosed as a cyst.

The testicular cancer, untreated, spread to his lungs, and that’s when the problem was discovered. The cyst diagnosis had come from a doctor practicing at a generic drugstore.

Mexico is chockablock with doctors, and many find work at drugstores, charging about 20 pesos a diagnosis. While this may not be a bad option for minor, routine ailments, I wouldn’t count on it for anything potentially serious.

The drugstore option is used primarily by folks who are financially challenged. That would be our nephew.

He is 31 years old, married, two great kids, 10 and 6, and few real occupational skills. His father — my wife’s brother — was murdered by a lunatic when our nephew was a toddler.

His mother died a decade later due to diabetes, which she simply ignored until it killed her.

The nephew was 14, and his brother was 16 when mom died. They have been on their own ever since.

The testicular cancer has been removed. The lung cancer is more stubborn, but test results have been going in the right direction. By sheer luck, he had health insurance from a job driving a wrecker on the autopista near here.

He has been receiving chemotherapy at a government hospital in the nearby state capital. This has been going on for the past year. At first, we were part of a group of friends and relatives who ferried him to these sessions.

He has no car.

But, in time, the others have dropped out. Now it’s just us. Once a week. Some weeks on, some weeks off.

* * * *

Alternative medicine

In addition to this traditional treatment, he is also going to a witch doctor. At least, that’s what I call him. Others call him a practitioner of alternative medicine.

The witch doctor was recommended by another aunt and, unfortunately, he is not located in the nearby state capital but hours away in the City of Querétaro.

Once a month, the nephew travels to Querétaro by bus, leaving early in the morning, and returning late at night. The witch doctor is not cheap, and he prescribes all manner of medicines, none of which is covered by the health insurance.

My wife and other aunts pay the witch doctor.

The nephew has more faith in the witch doctor than he does in the oncologist at the government hospital.

The test results have shown a good bit of improvement over the year, but the lung cancer is not in remission.

I hope for the best while thinking of Steve McQueen.

My Mexican holiday

WHEN I WED into a mob of Mexicans almost 14 years ago, I initially made an effort to assimilate. In time I discovered that I could not. I am of a different world, a foreign mindset.

New ImageThere are the endless hugs and kisses done to a silly degree that the word overkill doesn’t begin to describe it. I have learned to dodge those as often as possible.

And, of course, the fiestas. My new paisanos party hearty and at every opportunity. One occurs Christmas Eve, and my wife and I go different ways. This year was typical.

I spent Christmas Eve quietly at home with a smile on my face and peace in my heart. After a nice salad before the telly, I was in bed by 11, and I woke up Christmas Day refreshed.

She spent Christmas Eve downtown at her sister’s place — with about 20 relatives and friends from our mountaintop town, the nearby state capital and the city of Querétaro.

They whooped it up, karaoke and all, till 6 a.m. Then a contingent of 11 decamped to our Downtown Casita to conk out. Only a queen bed, a double and a cot are there.

So people slept on carpets, sofas, armchairs, etc. My wife was among them. At 10:30 a.m., she came home in a taxi, showered, napped an hour and headed back downtown.

tequilaThe mob was still there. She finally returned at 7 p.m.  last night. We ate our customary evening salads with Netflix. She lasted about 45 minutes before falling asleep in her chair.

Normally, they repeat the entire process a week later for New Year’s Eve.  All Night Long.  Simply amazing.