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And a Muy Buenos Dias to You (1994)

And a muy buenos dias to you to _ Ajijic

Why is it that sometimes we newcomers to Mexico feel at home and other times we feel like we’ve been dropped on the planet Zoinack?

On lakeside it is not uncommon for people (strangers mind you) to walk by and with not so much as a by your leave say “Hi, Hello” or even “Buenos Dias”. Frankly it scares me because I’m Canadian. It is usually 14 degrees F. and a howling wind is sticking wet leaves to your trousers so we just don’t walk around singing Zippity Doo Da.

In Ajiic, Lake Chapala these encounters happen all the time so here’s how I overcame my fear. I walked down the street and spotted my first victim, an elderly woman, some where in her late 120’s. Mean looking but I figured I could out run her if things got ugly. Gulp… “Buenos Dias” I said in a voice that cracked half way through “Dias”. She shot back the most lovely smile and said “Buenos Tardes”. Tardes, tardes. Damn I knew it was tardes. I suck at this.

Next I saw a real tough looking younger man, you know the type, he looks at you funny just because you’re wearing plaid Bermuda shorts and a shirt that says I heart my Rolex. So I put on the best macho airs I could muster and growled a simple “Tardes”. Again I was surprised by the cheery “Buenos Tardes, Como Estas?” I thought, macho! Why was I going for macho? Compared to him I am about as macho as Liberaces’s poodle.

Shaken but not deterred I decided I needed more practice so when no was looking I said “Buenos Tardes” to a stray dog who bit me on the shin. On my way to the emergency room I reflected on what I had learned here. Never invest in Beirut time share condominiums. ( I was suffering from sunstroke and had lost a lot of blood.) After a long and painful convalescence I went through a period of talking only to people (who like myself dress as if they should be serving drinks on the Love Boat). Saying “Good Day. How’s it hanging? Have you seen a small brown dog around here? I just need him for a minute. The spear? Oh I always carry that.”

The compromise I’ve come to is to drive everywhere and wave. Doesn’t matter who it is – the gas man, the mayor, friends, road kill, they all get the same jovial wave. For blood relatives I sometimes even roll down the window. So here’s hoping no one thinks I am running for political office or have some weird palsy in my left arm but for now it beats the heck out of actual eye contact with friendly people.

I also like being in the car in case I happen to spot a small brown dog with a piece of knee sock stuck in his teeth. Have a nice day.

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