“He’s peering through a different set of lenses,” remarked a friend the other day. “He hasn’t learned to check his expectations at the border.”
My friend was reporting a conversation he’d had with a colleague of his from the States who’d recently made his first trip south of the Rio Grande.
“He complained that the staff at the hotel where I suggested he stay in San Jose didn’t speak English,” my friend continued.
“In fact, the staff at that hotel does speak English. Just not rapid-fire Southern Drawl English. Nor could they, I guess, readily understand that variety of English when it was put to them.
“I take a different view,” my friend went on. “The way I see things, I’m a guest here in this part of the world.”
My friend hails from Holland.
“I’m the outsider. I bend to accommodate. I don’t expect staff in a Costa Rica hotel, for example, to speak Her Majesty’s English. But if I speak slowly and carefully…and I allow them to do the same…we understand each other fine.”
Day by day, I work hard to sell you on the idea of living, retiring, and investing outside your home borders. Because I believe it’s an irresistible idea whose time has come.
Today, allow me to un-sell you a little:
Panama is a Spanish-speaking country in the Tropics. That means the people here speak Spanish, and the weather is hot.
Roatan, Honduras, is an island in the Caribbean. That means its sandy beaches sometimes swarm with insects.
Nicaragua is a Third World country. That means that, sometimes, the electricity goes out…why, nobody can explain and for how long, nobody can predict.
The French invented the word for “bureaucracy.” That means that, to address any administrative requirement in France, you’re going to have to put up with a lot of it.
The developing world doesn’t see ice in your drink as a priority (neither does Europe).
In most of the world (unlike in the United States), renters are favored over landlords, and employers are assumed to be in the wrong if an employee dispute arises.
Latinos are loud. Their parties are loud. They play their music loud. They honk their car horns…loud.
Latin America is a Catholic region. That means the people take off for Catholic feast days.
Ireland, France, etc., are socialist states. That means that the people take every holiday and vacation day they can get.
There are snakes in the jungle…but not, typically, cell towers (your cell phone probably won’t work).
Although it’s the country’s capital and seat of government, there are few street signs in San Jose, Costa Rica. The Costa Ricans are not bothered by this.
There are few street signs in all Ireland. The Irish don’t mind.
There’s no national to-your-door mail delivery service in Panama.
In some parts of the world, banks and other businesses close for lunch.
Most countries have yet to embrace the idea of 24-hour grocery and convenience stores.
Most all non-tourist Paris shuts down for the entire month of August. For those four weeks, good luck finding a plumber who’ll take your call or a notaire who’ll schedule your apartment closing.
Manana doesn’t mean “tomorrow.” If you’re able to pin down what it does mean, exactly, please let us know.
The manana approach to living isn’t restricted to Latin America. Friends in Ireland once explained that the Irish, for example, don’t have a word to express that level of urgency.
Don’t say you weren’t warned.