You might have noticed that this blog has been light on places visited and events attended of late. It’s because I’ve been a bit preoccupied one way or another, but more of that another time. For now, just let me say, that there has been a lot of waiting around in recent weeks, for one reason or another, a lot. It’s not unusual here.
People from the north of planet earth generally curse or moan about the delays and queues which are, simply, part of every day life here. You have to adopt the right attitude, the way of life, the refusual to get stressed, and a belief in tomorrow, usually associated with warm climates to take them in your stride. It isn’t exactly the same thing as procrastination, but it’s a close relative. It is the almost-identical twin to the mañana syndrome. Really you have to know, not so much how to kill time, as how to use it.
Living here has taught me that how you deal with the delays and waiting is key to one’s mental health. There is no point whatsoever in fighting the syndrome, although I did have a minor skirmish, as you will see in a minute. There are ways you can handle it, for instance earlier this week, I had to go to the dentist:
A couple of weeks ago I had an extraction, and Wednesday’s appointment was only to check that all was healing as it should, before reconstruction begins in another couple of weeks – a five minute session then. I was prepared for an hour’s wait because the dentist always runs an hour behind, and I can understand the reasons, my extraction having taken twice as long as expected the other week. For this, and any other unexpected delays I ALWAYS carry a book, sometimes two, or sometimes a favorite magazine as well. I have a book in my car too, just in case I forget to put one in my bag. Reading is one of my passions, so any time to do a bit extra is one of life’s bonuses. Sure, there are often piles of magazines in waiting rooms, but better to be reading something in which I am interested. I read half of Hemingway’s “Dangerous Summer” the last time I went to the dentist. This was when I had the skirmish, though. The first hour passed, and I wasn’t surprised or even midly irritated; an hour quarter and I was beginning to get fidgety; an hour and a half and my posterior was getting numb. In the end it was an hour and forty minutes. Wouldn’t it have been better had the receptionist told me that was over an hour and half to wait? I could have been in the café downstairs enjoying coffee with my book, and have taken a walk when my circulation began to slow up. The dentist seemed to agree with me when I mentioned it, but hey, imagine here **exaggerated shrugging of shoulders**, next time I’ll take a thicker book, just in case.
The other thing I’ve always carried with me is a camera (yes, I do have BIG bags!), even before I had the canon, my point-and-shoot was always in pocket or bag. Now it’s even better. So when I arrived at the real estate office to pay my rent Tuesday, a sign on the door saying “Back in 15 minutes” made me smile…..time to wander over to the harbor and see if the high seas were producing waves worth snapping. You see, 15 minutes here doesn’t mean, exactly, well, 15 minutes, it just means “I won’t be long”, meaning probably something under an hour or so. Time here is nothing if not elastic and almost fluid. In this case, ample time to get an ice cream (my latest flavor discovery – papaya, tasting just like creamy, frozen papaya – yum – but no pix, it melts too fast!), stroll over to the harbor and take some snaps.
I’ve passed an enjoyable half hour savoring a new taste and being a bit creative, whilst the sour-faced, elderly couple sitting on the bench outside the real estate office, are still there, letting life pass them by. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe they were meditating. The thing is to make the most of unscheduled snatches of free time.
Another day, returning to the same office, same sign, I rang to get an estimate on the time (thank the lord for cellphones), another “15 minutes”, so I repaired to the ice cream parlor next door (yes, AGAIN! – lord, what did I do to deserve this ?!) for hot chocolate……and a revelation – this was the creamiest, richest, most delicious hot chocolate evUH. Flavored with cinnamon and orange, steaming hot, like silk on the throat and nectar on the tongue. I wanted to go on drinking forever. You see, sometimes when we are not rushing from place to place, appointment to appointment, office to supermarket to post office to gas station to home, we have time to experiment a little and discover new stuff – which is one of life’s greatest pleasures :=)
Taking the guagua (pronounced wow-wa and meaning bus – I just put that in because I like to say it) to Santa Cruz can be a frustrating experience …… if you allow it to be. You’re almost certain to just miss a bus, however carefully you time your arrival at the estación de guaguas. Plus, doing a repeat journey frequently means you know the scenery like the back of your hand, so another good time to bring out the books. In addition to books, however, I now have a brand new iPod and all the music I could ever want to listen too at the touch of a finger…….. cannot imagine how I survived my teens without one! I’m learning about playlists, and as soon as I’ve finished “music to walk/run to”, “music to read to” will be next. Some pleasant, light tunes which don’t distract from the plots I think. I’m not totally technically-challenged, but not far off, and this new addition (Christmas present from my sons) to my collection of gadgets is another new discovery to savour!
I can see that the iPod will have other advantages too, it will be easier to block out the endless, inane chatter of folks whose way of dealing with a queue is either to take a family member to gossip with at the tops of their voices (the prefered method here), or pester the nearest person (me) with their boring smalltalk…..which usually begins with a moan about the queue……whoa – easy there with your negative energy, go dump it on someone else….and leave me to enjoy Bruce or Eric!
So those are my three ways of dealing with delays. I really don’t mind them, and it’s because a) I expect them and b) I’m prepared. I’ve been known to do gentle yoga and exercise techniques too. In fact, I look on these delays, whether it’s the post office, the bank, the dole queue or a traffic jam as slivers of leisure time, to be enjoyed rather than letting them wind me up. So whilst everyone else is fretting and whinging tomorrow, when I have to spend a minimum of two and half hours up at the hospital waiting around for X-rays, I will be in my own, private pleasure zone :=)
It goes without saying that a long journey often requires all of these distractions too. Anyone got any other tips for dealing with waiting or boredom?