Welcome to the Adventure

Living in Mexico is often indescribable...you just have to live here. I have been journaling experiences for a while, and I hope you can get a feel for stupid-ass gringos trying to get it. But I am still here, and that says a lot for those of us sticking it out, as the payback is what makes life so good here.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Phone Anyone?

Jeez Louise, if it can go wrong, it will in Mexico. The phone thing has about done me in. It only took us two years to get the thing, and that was just the beginning. Bureaucracy thrives here in Mexico. For Huatulco area residents this issue is compounded by the distance between here and the major metropolitan area that our bureaucrats depend upon, Oaxaca. Worse yet, if they have to go to Mexico City to consult a “higher” authority, I’m prepared to go three months for a result. The phone issues are only eclipsed by the process of opening a checking account, which is another story, but think signing about 45 pieces of paper and you are still not done. But I have learned an amazing lesson from this, I have come to Zen-like patience with a smidge of humor, and bottom line, I’m still here.

Larry ordered our phone line, per a friend’s advice, when the house first started going up, because it will take that long to get a phone, she warned. Ok. That was three and 1/2 years ago. When we arrived I truly believed we had phone! No. Larry went down to Telmex a couple of times. Guys came out. Lots of walking around. Finally they come by to tell us we can’t get a phone, as all the lines on our street have been taken by the other 4 houses. Really, a daughter and sister of life-long employees of the phone company, Larry sic’ d me on Telmex. I went to the office, explained how you most certainly can hook us up, and let me talk to the technician if he doesn’t know how to do it. They freaked. Two days later, a crew supervised by a woman (yes!) with extreme confidence (this is a whole other story also, but she was so right on) worked well into the night to dig those ditches, and run those lines (actually Larry dug the ditch, because they "just run the lines"). This crew was brought in from Chiapas, the poorest state in Mexico, and it is a two-day drive from where they came from. Which is even more rural and further away yet from a major metropolitan area. This is so Mexico. What!?

We got phone. Then we got the phone number. Great, if anyone ever got a hold of us, they asked who the fluent Spanish speakers were that answered and said we weren’t there. Ooops. Two families in Huatulco got the same number. Guess who one of those families was? We went down to the phone office (once again) and where told it is not possible. I agree, it can't be possible Ok. We live with it for a couple of more weeks, when one afternoon we get a call from a Telmex technician asking “where were we” and we said “home”, and he said he was “sitting in front of the house and there was no one there”. We said “Conejos?”, he said “no, Sector K” (another neighborhood far, far away). Ah ha! Not possible...they never heard of party lines I guess. We did get our own phone number, and no longer share it.

Now this week we were cut off on Monday, because we were delinquent in our bill. We pay on line like civilized people. In fact it wasn’t even the most current bill we were delinquent on, it was the bill from two months ago. We always send it the same exact way every month (1 & 1/2 years now), bank takes it out of account, assures us they paid. No, we didn’t according to Telmex. After lengthy investigation, in front of Larry, on the computer, seems someone changed our account number. Weren’t sure what happened but they will straighten it out right a way. A week, maybe two we said. Turns out our $ went to Telmex limbo. We got our phone back on Wednesday, by the way, they didn’t want to see Larry again this week.

I know it all has to do with moving into a new culture. That no one, not one person, really seemed to think we had a problem (except other expats), drove me nuts. They knew it would resolve, we will have our happy ending, it always does, you just have to be patient. Bureaucracy, is when every one has a job. We witnessed more phone calls and internet communications, and the dreaded “we have to wait to hear from the Mexico City office”, regarding the shut off. There was a contest two years ago, sponsored by the government, asking the citizens of Mexico what the worst bureaucracy nightmare they had experienced. You will laugh, the number one, by far the worst, was the Mexican DMV, I would have voted for the phone company.

It does call up the worst things about Americans when we bump up against these various bureaucratic idosyncracies , doesn’t it? I have seen Americans rage against “the machine” here. What we didn’t know was so freaking easy: take a breath, have a beer, slow down and trust that this will all work out, really. I was so into the now, I realized, I didn’t really enjoy the journey one can have here, trusting the culture. We, in the end, felt such satisfaction and the rightness of this journey. We praised the effort, so valiant; the actual work, so heroic, and we got our phone and internet. Duh. How is it that the richest man in the world owns Telmex? Does he know two families have the same phone number? But I’m cool, I can laugh and roll with it. Sometimes.

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