Thursday, March 29, 2018

playas y pesos

There are two signs that Semana Santa is in full swing in our area of Mexico.

The first is almost a tautology. Semana Santa is in full swing when our local beaches do a rather convincing impersonation of Chinese holiday spots. You know the drill. Where strands of sand disappear under the crush of semi-nude bodies.

The second is a bit more esoteric. But it is every bit as emblematic as the first robin of Spring. The ATMs are almost perpetually empty.

It seems as if the arrival of the holiday revelers has been a bit slow this year, but they are finally arriving. And our beaches are taking on the festive air of revelers while our streets sink into some of the worst aspects of Manhattan.

But the ATMs are always a great barometer. Part of the problem is the dearth of infrastructure. Banamex has one ATM in Barra de Navidad and two others at the bank in San Patricio. There is an ATM at Intercam in San Patricio that does not recognize my debit card. And another at the army base just outside of Melaque where I can never find a parking spot.

My experience is with the Banamex machines. And they have been consistently under stress for the last week.

Our ATM in Barra de Navidad runs out of cash on a regular basis -- even when tourists are not besieging the town. I have become so accustomed to seeing "Disculpe" displayed on the screen that I thought Banamex had changed ts name.

And, even though both Banamex ATMs at the bank were operating yesterday, I (along with a group of other dissatisfied customers) could not get either machine to cough up a few pesos to get me through the week.

That was bad planning on my part. The monthly payment for the staff has hit in the middle of this weekend. I was also faced with a large number of financial requests from friends.

So, here I am. Without a car. With $200 (Mx) in my wallet, and about $6,000 (Mx) of obligations to pay on Saturday.

This is when I am glad I have a bank account with Banamex. If I cannot get the ATM to disgorge at the bank tomorrow, I can take my passport and my account card inside to drain a bit out of my savings to tide me over. In something of a modified Willie Sutton adage. Because it is there.

Despite the occasional inconvenience, Semana Santa is one of my favorite times of the year. Where else can you find such a large group of people devoted to pursuing a singular goal? Having a good time.

And that is plenty evidence for me that I made the correct choice in retiring in this fascinating country.

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