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In Mexico Things Frequently Don't Work, but Almost Always Work Out

Updated: Aug 30, 2021

Quote from Carol Merchasin

We have been in San Miguel for six weeks. We are definitely still newbies here, but we are learning more about the city every day. Does it meet our expectations? We were looking for good weather, a lower cost of living, and a place that had a lot of culture to emjoy. We have found all three here, and it’s better than expected.

What makes San Miguel extraordinary is the old-fashioned slower pace of life in the city. There are no traffic signals, no stop signs, no neon lights. People walk everywhere, up and down these steep cobblestone streets with narrow sidewalks with poles in the middle and steps every few yards. Even cars have to move slowly becuse the streets are narrow and rough. But there are no honking horns, no road rage. Drivers take turns when they come to a corner. We hear of accidents, but haven’t seen any ourselves and have only heard a siren once or twice.

The pace takes some getting used to. Business works slowly, or not at all, as in the case of the Mexican mail service. Ex-pats here contract instead with a private company to receive and deliver their mail from the US or Canada. We were given three names of companies that are said to be reliable, and we chose one of those. The owner of SMA International explained that for $100.00 a year we could have our mail sent to an address in Laredo Texas, where once a week he would pick it up, drive it back to San Miguel and deliver it to the SMA International office where we could pick it up. All the reviews on line for his company were positive, so we decided to go for it. He said to meet him at the office any time after 11:00 on Monday when we could fill out the form and pay the annual delivery fee. That sounded fine, but since the office address was fairly far from our house, and in an unfamiliar neighborhood, we took a cab to get there.

We arrived at the right address at noon, but found only a small restaurant along a strip of other cafes and stores, with a tiny sign on the wall saying, “SMA International," and an arrow pointing inside the restaurant. Nothing looked like a business or a place to get mail. There was a waiter and a cook in the place, but that was all. Confused, I asked in Spanish if this was in fact the place where mail gets deliverd. “Si, si,” the waiter said.

“We are here to meet your boss,” I told him. “Where is he?”

He’s not here,” he said, apologetically.

“When will he be here?”

“Maybe a few minutes. Or maybe an hour,” he said. I asked if there was a form to fill out that might explain the service. He went and got one, but it had no explanation about the service, only a place to write our contact information.


"What day does mail come?'


“Different days....You pay $100.00 American,” he said.

“With a credit card," I asked?

"If it’s a Mexican credit card.”

“We will come back another time,” I told him.

“O.k., but you come tomorrow, we move to another place, another restaurant. Maybe a mile from here.”


Jack, who’s not the most patient person in the world, even when he understands the language, totally lost it. “I’ve never seen anything like this! What kind of businessman can operate this way? He said he’d meet us here. He didn't say anything about moving!” he raged. All I could do was giggle. I had warned him that this was the way things go in Mexico and he hadn’t believed me. “You were living in the jungle when you were in Mexico, and that was 20 years ago,” he had said dismissively.

But this is Mexico. Things change slowly, and some things never will. Twenty years is a drop in a bucket, and six weeks here hardly counts at all.

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