As I visited family in the US, I frequently noticed how foreign things felt.
People are too freaking polite! Good grief, people! Quit waving each other access to the intersection and just GO! I didn’t even rent a car this trip so I barely drove at all – but I still found myself flabbergasted at how SLOW people drive – and how SLOW they turn (ever hear of hand over hand?) and how LONG they stop at a stop sign. Especially if there is a car ANYWHERE within view. Sheesh!
Everyone is solo! Most cars are occupied by one person. Certainly most motorcycles. And NEVER. EVER. do you see two MEN on a motorcycle. And nothing fun like people on bicycles or motorcycles carrying surfboards or extension ladders. And NO MOTOS of course with the little juice stand or coco stand or hotdog stand on the front buzzing along at 15 mph.
What gas company clutter! For a country that likes things neat and tidy, there are too many gas stations, all different colors and layouts and prices. What a mess! And yes, please, I would like them to pump it for me, and I am happy to give them a 10 peso tip!
Unload my own cart? What a pain! I love coming out of the grocery store and being greeted by a guy who says a pleasant hello and helps me unload my groceries and returns my cart. He even helps me (Viene, Viene) with a whistle and a wave get out of my parking space without incident. And yes, I don’t mind giving him a little tip!
Wow, lots of fancy cars but also lots of dirty ones! Here in Mazatlán you have to try hard to have a dirty car. Our block has Cuautémoc taking care of us but it is easy to get a car wash for 30 pesos while you run an errand. No time for that? Pull up to a stoplight and get your window washed. I say No Thanks to waiting in line for hours on Saturday at the old automated car wash.
Friendly greetings everywhere? Or nowhere? Mazatlán has a population of about 400,000 but it mostly feels like a small town. People smile a lot. Say hello a lot. Are friendly in general. I did have some friendly stranger interactions while I was NOB but mostly people pass on by without looking at you or greeting you. One day the grandkids, my daughter-in-law and I sat on a curb outside of the mall waiting for my son to pick us up. People passing behind us on the sidewalk ignored us totally. That would never happen in Mazatlán, and it felt very weird.
There’s lots of fancy stuff! And yes, I like some of it. But some of it just seemed strange, and all of it – too expensive. I think I am just totally not in the zone of six dollar coffee and six roma tomatoes for $2.99. It was a pleasure to go shopping yesterday and buy my normal stuff and be happy. (Of course I did bring back from the US three fancy dark chocolate bars!)
Lots of rules, and lots of people obeying them! Bikes this lane! Use these bags to pick up after your dog and put it here! No dogs here. No parking there. No entrance. You know what I mean. We probably have as many rules here in Mazatlán but the signs are missing or the lane marker is worn or whatever! NOB everyone is wearing a helmet, and biking or skating in the lane provided and obeying the rules and making sure everyone else obeys the rules, too. I think I am becoming a bit of an anarchist in my old age – I really don’t want to be told what to do as long as I don’t hurt anyone else!
Where’s the friendly banter? Here and there I felt a flicker of happiness as someone made a friendly comment while waiting in line or something, but often I felt like I was Customer #507 instead of Smiling Gray Haired Lady in a Mexican Blouse. At least there’s no more “Paper or Plastic” questions as you are expected to bring your own bags most everywhere.
What about a relaxing meal? My family laughed at my surprise during one meal in a restaurant where the waiter interrupted our animated conversation twice for no reason and then brought the check before we had half finished!
I’m not a total grump, though! I ate blueberries and garden burgers galore. I wore pants! (You would understand this if you had spent a summer in Mazatlán’s heat) I went to Target and stocked up on things that are elusive in México – iron on patches, tylenol PM, quiche pans and a pizza peel. I had wonderful time with my family and have my fingers and toes crossed for them to all come for a visit here very soon!