I should know this after 15 years, but it continues to amaze and annoy me. On a video I recently heard, "Is it possible to be astonished, but not surprised?" I would have to answer, " Si, Senor." Even my pastor (who is Mexican by the way) refers to time here as "Mexican time" and "American time." Mexican time is epitomized in the word "manana." It is an elusive term that is always in the future and never present tense. American time is generally in comparison - on time. I was raised with the ethical principle that 5 minutes early was on time, on time was late and 5 minutes late was VERY late. In Mexico this slogan is not even in the stratosphere. In Mexico "I'll be back in 2 hours" means "I'll be back in 2 days (if you are lucky.") "I'll be there manana" means, "I'll be there in one to two weeks." If they say they will be there next week, you are really screwed, because that means at least 2 weeks; and if they are a carpenter it means 2 months and still don't hold your breath!
I was dressing for my Taebo class that was "scheduled" to start at 8 am. About 7:45 I was packing up my gear to get to class by 8. I was packing the latest novel I was reading, so that I could fill the time till 8:20 when class would actually start. My husband said, "Why do you bother to get there early, when you know it will not start on time?" "It's principle," I say. In fact, I am not sure that the word "appointment" means the same thing when translated into Spanish. Yesterday we waited for a pool contractor to get a bid on a pool we want constructed at our home. In a weak, hurting economy, he never showed up for his "appointment."
Having whined and complained about this, I will say that although punctuality may not be the forte of the Mexican culture; there are other noble qualities I must note that make up for their transgression in tardiness. A Mexican will spend his last 300 pesos (if he has them) on a costume for his child for the local Spring festival. A Mexican will serve you the only lobster, while he eats fish. A Mexican will honor his mother and father. A Mexican will not leave church without kissing you, and saying, "Dios te vendiga (God bless you)," at least once and very possibly twice. I guess punctuality is not everything. In fact, here in Mexico I always feel good about myself. I have not always been the paragon of punctuality in the U.S., but here I am always early - by Mexico time that is. So as long as I pack a new novel in my purse, I just consider it an enrichment to my literary education. That being said, "I will write again manana - that means one to two weeks by Mexico time!"