Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Manana Washing Machine

We've been here barely a month and we're already finding out that this is a place where things are not quite as they seem. For one thing, some things can be both true and untrue at the same time, without much of a contradiction or anyone actually being accused of telling untruths.

For instance it can be the case that an internet connection is available in your rental house but also that it is not actually available - and both of these are (kind of) true - from someone's perspective anyway (more of this later).

Or maybe you are told that yes you will be able to store your windsurfing equipment in a particular 'local' (business premises), and perhaps you are quoted a price for this - but when you get to the point of doing the deal, it all mysteriously becomes somewhat murky and you are left wondering if you got it all wrong in the first place.

I've been warned about a couple of phrases that you tend to come across quite a lot:
"temporary problem" = "could take at least a year"
"no problem" = time to get really worried when you hear this one :(

Another thing that tends to happen here, is that either things that can go wrong do inevitably go wrong, or sometimes they surprise you by working if not perfectly, then at least a hell of a lot better than you thought they would.

We have our English expressions that express the first part of this: Sod's Law, Murphy's Law ... the French say stuff like "c'est la vie", and then there is the infamous local shrug of the shoulders (usually by an official at the head of a queue that you been in for the past couple of hours).

I'll need to learn some Spanish phrases that capture the contradictions, absurdities, and manana murkiness that are part of life's rich, surreal tapestry here.

And yet (so far) everyone here has been so wonderfully friendly and genuinely wanting to help us through the initial teething troubles that you find yourself forgiving most of the murkiness and just going with the flow in a "don't worry, it will work, be happy" kind of way ...

This is all a bit like our washing machine - it's a kind of 'manana washing machine' ... you switch it on, and it makes helpful noises for while - but then it kind of shrugs and goes for a siesta and you're left wondering if perhaps it will decide to finish the rest of the spin cycle some time in the indefinite future - perhaps when the sun has gone down and all the other washing machines have sprung into life for a bit of 'electrodomesticos' socialising.

I think that quite a lot of this blog is going to be about these kind of serious philosophical issues :) anyway, for a while, as we adjust to our newly adopted culture ... but hopefully there'll be a bit of room for bit of some lighter stuff.

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