Mexico can be weird. I suppose living anywhere outside of your own culture is bound to present situations that seem bizarre. We have lived here since January 2002 (four-and-a-half years!) and we still run into things that dumbfound us. For example, we have become well-acquainted with the fact that “on time” often has a different contextual meaning here than what we are used to in the United States. Here, timeliness is more closely related to the event itself than to the clock. But that’s not what’s weird. The oddity occurs when trying to determine which engagements are “late” ones and which are “on time” ones. This, apparently, comes naturally to our Mexican brothers and sisters, but we lack this “normal” sensibility.
We have attended two events recently. One, a “quinciñera” (fifteen-year-old girl’s birthday party), began at 8:00 according to the invitation. Naturally we wanted to demonstrate our cultural agility by arriving at about 8:30, the time we anticipated the other guests would arrive. Upon arrival, however, our tardiness was embarrassingly evident as we entered a banquet hall already full of hundreds of people, seated at tables. Our table, not-so-conveniently located on the other side of the hall, stood empty with name cards displaying who was a half-hour late.
Last week, we went to a college graduation ceremony. According to the invitation, a reception began at 8:00 with the ceremony following at 9:00. Not wanting to repeat our experience at the quinciñera, we arrived promptly at 8:00, ready to “shmooze” with the graduates. When we entered the building, we were greeted with an empty foyer. A hand-full of workers were in the large banquet hall setting up tables and chairs. Perhaps we had misunderstood about the “reception.” We decided to leave and return at 9:00 for the ceremony. When we returned, we were greeted by a well-dressed doorman who directed us to the main hall. “This is promising,” we thought, only to enter an empty banquet hall. Over the next hour we sat at our table, alone, until other guests trickled in. The ceremony finally began at 10:30!
We know that this is different from the usual news that we send, but we thought that it would be fun to share a story of our cultural bumblings. We are always becoming more and more convinced that no matter how long we live here, we will always be a half-step behind the natives.
As always, thank you all for your steadfast support and prayer.
We are truly blessed.
Love, Luke, Lindsay, Bella, and Baby