Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Daily life in Mexico…The Garbageman Always Rings Twice!

One of the first things you learn as a newly minted expat in Mexico, is life is different here in more ways than you might have imagined. Sure, most people speak Spanish, and that in itself is a bit of a challenge, but it is adapting to the different way day to day life functions here where your new life really begins!

Garbage collection
Let’s start with a few of the easy things. At “home”, garbage service was usually just a matter of either ordering up service and dragging the cans out to the curb each week, or taking your trash down to the dumpster in your building. Here things are a bit different, and it took us a little time to figure it all out. While the garbage service here is somewhat less sophisticated it is, if nothing else, frequent. After moving in, we discovered that a garbage truck comes down our street on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday merrily ringing a bell that alerts you to their presence a block or so ahead of their arrival. There are however no garbage cans, you simply take your bags out and place them at the curb, or hand them directly to the garbage collectors, who in this case is a family of Mexicans ranging in age from Grandma to the older children. We wondered about recycling, as we did not see how we might accomplish that, only to find that once received, the family members quickly sort your bag out and remove the glass, plastic bottles, cans and anything else that looks interesting. This apparently is how they make their money as the garbage trucks are privately owned and operated under some kind of system that seems to work very well, but which we may never fully understand!

Checking the gas
Next there is the gas. Nearly every home here runs primarily on propane, and there is a large tank located somewhere on the property. These are filled on demand, and once we figured out how to read the gauge (climb up a steel ladder on the side of the house, flip open a cover and see what’s left) our housekeeper would order a filling for us. The truck usually appears out of nowhere fairly quickly, a couple of good natured gas guys jump out and fill the tank in short order, and smile as you pay them with a large wad of cash. Very simple, efficient, and a far cry from paying an online bill with PG&E!

Fortunately our current home includes most of our utilities as most residents pay their bills in cash (no online option yet), at the various offics at the end of the month. This can result in some rather long lines at both the bank and the utilities as the end of the month is also pay day for most residents. The long suffering Mexicans take this all in stride, and don’t really seem to mind the long lines and the wait. I think it is a bit of a social occasion for them rather than the nuisance we gringos would perceive. 

La Tienda
Most people are familiar with the admonishment “don’t drink the water” in Mexico, and while this is generally true, much of the water in San Miguel is considered “safe” with many homes having a filtration system installed. We do use bottled water for cooking and drinking, but tap water for everything else. I have been brushing my teeth daily with tap water and have had no deleterious effects. Bottled water is readily available, and we have been buying it from the little “tienda” across the street. The little woman there stocks an amazing array of fruits, vegetables, beer, and Mexican packaged sweets (very popular here), and she has taken a liking to the crazy gringos.

Don’t get me wrong, the quirky little things are half the fun, and living outside your normal routine is both challenging and stimulating. Daily life in Mexico takes a little getting used to, but like anywhere once you figure it out it, life goes on!

Click on any photo to enlarge!