Manners: While walking the pup this afternoon, in our neighborhood, a Mexican woman came from the other direction talking on her cell phone. She passed me and held the phone away from her ear, greeted me with “buenas tardes” and continued her conversation and stroll. Last week I sneezed in the spice aisle at Soriana and someone in the next aisle said “Salud!” You will seldom walk down a street in Puerto Vallarta and not be greeted by everyone you pass, a gardener watering lawns or an abuelita pushing babies in a stroller. It’s not just the elderly who are polite. Small children do not shrink in terror, as they do in the States, when one smiles at them. They smile back. When testing your Spanish skills, you will not be laughed at. You may be corrected courteously and encouraged, but Mexicans don’t make fun of our language the way we do with theirs.
Rhythm: What is it about the farther North you go, the less people move to music, or express themselves with song and dance? You’d think in the colder climes, people would be more inclined to move around to stay warm. The irony is that in the tropics, you can work yourself into a genuine slather and then require an icy drink to cool down. Mexicans in Puerto Vallarta whistle and sing in public, while working, walking down the street; they show no embarrassment or timidity. When they listen to music, whether a live concert or on their car radio, they MOVE. They shake it up and do things with their hips and ankles that seem to keep them well oiled into old age.
Driving: I didn’t really learn how to drive until I came to Mexico. It’s defensive, for sure. That keeps you more alert, which is something Northerners get lackadaisical about. Too busy messing with the volume, texting or talking on the phone, putting on make-up, shaving (yes, I’ve seen it, on a California freeway even). Once you’ve learned how to parallel park in Puerto Vallarta, go back to your Home State/Province and show off to the amazement of your friends. You learn how to do it once and quickly… most likely after some foiled attempts.
Cleaning: Mexican homes are immaculate. Everyone has a maid. Even our maid has a maid. While she’s cleaning our house, someone else is cleaning hers. But will she use the vacuum we brought to Mexico, thinking it would make her job so much easier? No way, José. Why? There are probably a number of reasons but her main rationalization is that it blows the dirt around and makes a horrible noise. Also, it uses electricity, which we pay for; she has, inadvertently, caused us to inspect our wastefulness and dependency on energy. Ever watched a Mexican with a broom? They sweep slower, closer to the ground, shorter strokes. They’re fast enough; I would never challenge our maid to a sweeping contest. Most appliances aren’t considered all that helpful in a Mexican home. You will rarely see a dishwasher or garbage disposal, devices many of us don’t live without in the States.
Resting: The word Siesta is derived from “sixth hour,” which is approximately how long you’ve been away since the sun came up. Traditionally, the most filling meal of the day is midday, but work hours and the loss of traditional afternoon closing times, due to accommodating tourists, have altered that convention. When clubbing, it’s a good idea to submit to a “disco nap” to enabling one to endure late dancing hours. However, a midday nap, regardless of dinner, is healthy and highly recommended. Come to Puerto Vallarta and get your circadian rhythms balanced.
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Thanks to Adam Garcia for this Article!