We live in a really nice neighborhood in Cancun. It feels a lot more like places we’ve lived in the USA and a lot less like where we lived in Panama. And we have a lot of familiar places around us: WalMart, Costco, Sam’s Club, Home Depot, etc. All of that is lovely but confusing at the same time. Having the familiarity lulls you into a sense of knowing what to expect, and thinking you’ve got it figured out. If anything, it makes you even more confused when something happens that is NOT expected.
We did the math on the cost of a laundry service vs buying a washer and dryer and we’ve determined that for the amount of time we are here, it’s cheaper to do the laundry service (twist my arm!). So we went in on Saturday to a place nearby to set up a regular twice-weekly pick up and delivery service. They have a menu of services and right there on the menu they list a pick up and delivery service. And since you can pretty much throw a rock to two very nice neighborhoods from the laundromat, I know they do this on a regular basis. So I hoped to just slip into whatever schedule they might have already set up with someone in the neighborhood.
When I started talking to the lady about the logistics, it’s like we had switched into Chinese. Now, I’m not fluent in Spanish by any means but I have navigated internet installation, a colonoscopy, expired license plates, mattress delivery and pretty much everything in between. I may speak like a 1st grader sometimes, but I get my point across and sometimes I even make a joke. But with this gal? No. Nope. No comprendo. Nada.
Dan says it’s because the gal just was not used to working with someone who didn’t know the system. We found this in Panama too, especially with Zoe’s parades. They never thought to tell us what was going to happen because it never occurred to them that we wouldn’t know. These things are so ingrained in people here that they think you’re BORN with the knowledge of how laundry delivery works, or what you need to do to get ready for a parade, or how to notify the guards that you have a delivery or a visitor. So they don’t think to tell you. You literally have to ask. And ask and ask and ask. And a lot of the time the answer is “Whatever you’d like, Senora.”. Well that’s not so helpful, really!!
So the laundry lady and I struggled for about 10 minutes, with what seemed like basic questions. When will you pick up? When will you deliver? How will I pay you? Do you have a card to get into the neighborhood? A guy who seemed to be hanging out in the laundromat waiting for the lady finally got involved and although we didn’t switch to English, he was also struggling a bit to get answers for me. Clearly he wasn’t born with Laundry Delivery Knowledge either. The background noise, the mumbling from the lady and the very low tone of her voice only complicated matters. It’s probably the most frustrated I’ve ever been trying to communicate. I am not too proud to admit that once we were in the privacy of our own home, there were tears.
But eventually we worked it out and supposedly today I will have dirty clothes picked up. And then on Thursday we’ll do it all over again. Will it happen as it should? Who knows!
But the point of all of this is that despite the familiar stores and a more-familiar neighborhood and many modern conveniences we had in the USA, we are still going against the grain. We are still a family who is doing what most families do not. We are still trying to live as Mexicans but having no idea how Mexicans live. And perhaps here it feels like more of an adjustment because you don’t think you have to adjust. This is a classic example of you don’t know what you don’t know. And you don’t even know what to ask to learn what you don’t know. And even if you do know what to ask, you keep forgetting the verb for “deliver”.