Different strokes

January 6, 2008

We have had a lot to learn about our new home, Mazatlan.

  • When carpenters install hinges here, they make the cut out area double deep and then install the other side of the hinge flat on the wood. Smart because it means they only have to make one cut for the hinge.
  • I’ve only bought one pair of pants here, but the zipper and button are oriented the opposite way from the way I am accustomed to.
  • The rules of cell phone usage are very complicated. The person receiving the call on their cell phone is the one who pays for the call. And it is wise to be sensitive to people lower on the economic ladder. For example, if we were to call our painter we would text message him and then he could call back so that we would be charged for the call.
  • The rules of land line phones are new, too. If you call a cell phone, you are charged for it. So we take special care to know what kind of phone we’re calling and who it belongs to before we call. And we call land line from land line and cell to cell. Sheesh.
  • Draperies are more popular here than blinds. There are a few dusty mini-blinds at Home Depot and a few roller shades but that’s it.
  • There are so many talented craftspeople here! We need a bracket to hold our heavy chandelier – the iron man. A mural on the end wall of the sala fresca – the mural painter. I am amazed every day at what they can do with concrete, too!
  • Mazatlan is the shrimp capital of the world but there is a lot of other good food here, too. There’s a bakery with no sign that we call “the cookie lady” with extraordinary cookies. Two great pizza places. Thai food. Potatoes. Tacos.
  • Work pretty much stops from Christmas Eve until the Dia de los Magos (today.) Up north it is sketchy between Christmas and New Year’s but here even the government offices shut down. Might as well!
  • TV is a big disappointment here. Most of the Mexican programming is not our kind of show (like game shows) or are too hard to get into (like soap operas.) We do watch the Venados play baseball and catch the occasional football game. Some of the dubbing is done very strange – like Rachel Ray the other day was speaking English and they had dubbed it in Spanish but not blanked out the English so you couldn’t understand anything. Any US TV series you see listed is certain to be last season. CNN is from England. Who needs TV anyway?
  • Locals love it when you speak Spanish. Even my present-tense Spanish. Sometimes they are all nervous when they realize they have to speak to you but once you start talking they seem to relax.

The picture at the top? Our house being prepped for painting.

More about Nancy

I'm Nancy, a US expat living in San Antonio Tlayacapan, Jalisco after 11 years in Mazatlán, México.

    1. Hi Nancy,

      Just a quick note on cell phones. Who pays may be different according to what cell phone service you have. We are on the amigo plan from Telcel. We pay for outgoing calls, but not incoming calls. If we have a zero balance, we can still receive calls. Also, my friend (for whom a cell phone is an extreme luxury) usually texts me and I call him back so I pay the charges for the call, not him.

      I love your observations! We are starting to get some work done too and are witnessing the miracles of concrete. Just amazing.


    1. Oh no, even more complicated! I wonder if there is a chart somewhere that states who pays what from company to company?

      What kind of work are you having done? If it’s concrete all I can say is be prepared for dust!

    1. Wow, what a lovely traditional colonial Spanish home! It’s the real thing, like out of an 18th century village. I love the door-windows with the railing.



    1. We also wonder at how the charges work, and the area codes and other codes for calling a cell phone. I think the codes can change in different states. Our house came with a land line and that’s complicated too! K always tries to figure out the logic of it. I just think of Carlos Slim.

      Thanks for the insight about texting people and being sensitive to who you call.

    1. The TV thing is interesting. When we were in Campeche along the way, the hotel had pretty decent programming (well, stuff we’d watch at home, like Miami Ink and Drawn Together) but it was all in Spanish. That’s fine for me, but it gets exhausting translating on the spot for the whole show for hubby. I did it once for a whole movie and at the end I felt like I just needed a nap!

    1. On November 2006 The National Regulatory Comission for Telecommunications, Telmex and all important cell phone operators such as Telcel, Movistar, Iusacell and Unefon agreed and started a new program called “El Que Llama Paga” (The one who calls pays the call). The program was huge news in Mexico and in general the only instance in which you would pay to receive a call would be if you are out of your area and used roaming to receive it. Being in the same area where you contracted your cell phone, all your incoming calls are free. It is interesting because the reason for this program being was to help families with relatives working in the US, and the objective was that they could receive their relative´s calls and not loose contact because they could not afford to receive the calls. If somebody tells you they are paying when you call them, and they have been in town, then very likely they have been charged for something else. I hope this takes a bit of confusion away.

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