Thursday, November 25, 2010

giving thanks as it comes

This is Mexico -- and everything will turn out well in the end. Or, at least, I will accept whatever turns out.

So said I on Sunday -- even though that post did not show up until Wednesday.  And it turned out to be true.  That may be enough for me to be thankful for in this eventful year.

The travails I faced when I returned to Melaque -- mildewed clothes, dead truck battery, still-broken truck radio, fried internet modem -- would have been minor in the United States (with the exception of that pesky radio.)  Here, each one was a logistical challenge.

But that is part of the adventure I have come to love in Mexico.  In Salem, my life was comfortable.  So comfortable that I might as well have been brain dead.  And I feared that is what would happen if I retired in Oregon.

Down here, accomplishing little things give you a sense of true accomplishment.

The truck battery was a perfect example.  My friends Lou and Wynn picked me up at the airport on Saturday.  They knew my battery was dead, and were ready to help me.  But I could not find the truck key.  When I did, I realized I did not have a key to the gate to let Lou pull in his truck.

He returned on Monday once I had everything in hand.  The truck started right up with a jump.  I took it for a 30 minute spin -- thinking that would be good enough to charge up the battery.

No such luck.  When I stopped by Lou's house, and turned off the ignition, it would not start up.

It turns out the battery is original equipment -- almost ten years old.  So, I headed off to the local shop to buy a replacement.  The guy who sold it to me (for about $135 - USD), installed it and had me on my way in about twenty minutes.

And the clothes were just as simple.  An extra large pillow case full of smelly duds went to my laundress.  I left $7 behind, and got three stacks of folded, sweet-smelling clothes.

The radio and the modem were Mexican tales.  I needed to go to Manzanillo to take care of both tasks.  I drove down Tuesday morning only to discover that the Ford dealer could not repair my radio until the next day.  Just like in The States.  I needed an appointment.

As for the modem, I was given some general instructions (go past here, don't turn there) that I did not understand.  That was my fault.  I should simply have asked more questions.  It turns out I was within a half mile of where I needed to be.  But the six people I asked for directions had no idea where the Telmex office was.

I returned to Manzanillo early on Wednesday morning.  The Ford service department took about two hours to repair the radio.  When my truck returned, it had been detailed and the radio worked better than it had for years.  All for less than $40- USD.  Try getting that from your Salem dealer.

The trip to Telmex went just as well.  I knew my lack of Spanish skills was going to be a problem.  When I walked in the door, I must have looked like a drunk who staggered into a temperance meeting.  A young lady at a desk spotted me, and led me by the hand to one of those ice cream store number machines.  If you want to feel old, try living out that little scenario.

When my number was called, I asked the service representative if she spoke English.  She didn't.  I used up the twelve words I had rehearsed to tell her my modem had died.

And then came the moment I dread in every hierarchical institution.  "Did you report it to the office?  Do you have a report number?"

I did not feign ignorance.  I exuded the real thing. 

Could we call from here?  Isn't this "the office?"

No.  You must call before you come in.

She huffed and started entering words rapidly in my account.  I assumed she was completing my deportation papers to Arizona.

When she was done, she called over a young man in coat and tie.  Well-dressed, but obviously subservient to the woman helping me.

He started: "She says ..." -- the equivalent of "Your mother is not happy, and you need to listen this time."

Because I had traveled all the way from Melaque, she cut me slack and gave me a new modem.  But, when this one fails (those were her words: "when," not "if") I need to call a  number she very carefully wrote on a small piece of paper.

But the new modem has not failed -- yet.  Right now, it is bringing you this post.

So what am I thankful for this Thanksgiving?  A lot of things.

But I am thankful to live in a land where accomplishing rudimentary things gives me the same joy as when I learned to tie my shoe laces.

And, of course, for my family and friends who indulge me in this little fantasy.

A happy Thanksgiving to each of you.


Mic said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you Steve :-)

So happy to be reading your stories from MX again.

Barb said...

"accomplishing rudimentary things gives me the same joy as when I learned to tie my shoe laces."

omgosh! Isn't that the truth?!

Happy Thanksgiving, Steve.

Jonna said...

I think you've nailed it, here we are returning to our childhood with smiling women telling us how accomplished we are because of those newly tied shoelaces. Off hand, I'd say it beats buying a convertible and a young girl to show off as old life crisis fulfillment.

I'll pass on some good advice I was given when I first got here. If you can accomplish one thing every day you have done enough, pat yourself on the back and do another the next day. Careful, you may be overextending yourself so get those tasks down to a meaningful level of ONE.

Joe S. said...

Great to read your posts as I multitask on a "day off" in the frozen land of PDX. I've been reading blog posts from the Merida gang to fill the time

Marc Olson said...

I agree with Jonna, one a day is plenty. And if look at it this way, at the end of a year, that's a lot of accomplishment. I find that living in Mexico I am more aware of what I have to be thankful for, in part because life is simpler, and also because many here have much less than what we are accustomed to, and they are thankful to be alive, for friends, family, the food on the table and the roof over their heads, however humble it might be.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Calypso said...

Of course getting Internet is a must - and you did it. The sad puppy dog affect really works as long as it is wrapped around a VERY contrite spirit.

Congrats amigo - glad you are back.

Brenda Maas said...

Happy Thanksgiving.
Glad you are getting things back in order.

Anonymous said...

Loved the "learning to tie shoelaces" analogy - a perfect image!


Anonymous said...

Oh, Steve you are too much. I laughed until my sides hurt and the tears ran down my cheeks. Keep up the humor, it is good for the soul.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Steve Cotton said...

Mic -- Happy to be back in Mexico -- and back on line.

Barb -- I can start enjoying life by celebrating the simple things -- and nothing is simpler than me.

Jonna -- I have always lived by the one task a day down here. When I get greedy, I relearn the joys of patience.

Joe -- And a different life it is in Merida. But i will soon write a little bit about that.

Marc -- Like you, I enjoy the perspective I get on life while living in Mexico.

Calypso -- And I am very glad to be back in the internet crowd.

Brenda -- I doubt everything will ever be in order. At least, I can try to keep them in perspective.

Alee' -- Rather liked it myself. Thanks.

Mom -- I wonder where I got it?