Moving to a new country is always a challenge as you have to build up a new routine. One of the things that surprised me the most upon our arrival in Mexico, is the way you are supposed to pay your bills.
For years, we had been making payments online. Quick and efficient. Here, nothing seems quick and efficient which is a good way to train your patience muscle.
Our house didn’t have a letter box, so we went and bought one. It looks pretty, and I sometimes pat it a little so it doesn’t feel lonely, because nobody ever uses it. The bills are due to arrive around the 8th of each month. If they arrive. Then you should check various locations: the door handles on your car are the first spot to look for invoices. If you happen to be out while the postman makes his round, he will probably stick the letter to a cactus or, if he is a king-size postman, he might attach it to a tree branch. But if he is in a hurry, he will just leave the envelope somewhere on the grounds between the street and your house which is big fun on a gusty day. It adds some cheerful atmosphere to a quiet street. I will leave it to your imagination how much fun it is on a rainy day. And yes, we have those.
So as you can imagine, around the 8th of each month, you see people everywhere searching the grounds and the trees for invoices. When you find your bill, you take it to the next kiosk where you can pay the amount in cash. That’s very easy. But it only works before the 10th of each month, since after that, the kiosk won’t accept your payment anymore but you have to drive to the respective offices.
Paying your electricity bill is easy, they even have a drive-thru option. Needless to say, that those machines only take cash. So last week I went to pay our electricity bill at the drive-thru station and it got a little Mr. Beanish for when I stuck out my hand to reach for the receipt, it blew away in a flurry. However, as I was so close to the machine, I couldn’t open my door. Instead, I had to move the car which made the receipt flutter away. And there I was, crouching on the ground looking for the receipt until I found it, of course, under the car, so I had to almost lie down to reach for it, and the guys on the other side of the street apparently liked my performance as they cheered me on. Such a glamorous life.
But well, got the electricity bill paid. For paying the water bill, you have to queue up in front of the office together with many other people. That mind sound boring, but I like to watch people, and I always admire the Mexicans’ waiting skills. Unlike us, they do not show any impatience, but they simply keep standing there. The babies are all sound asleep, not a single child is whining. The adults are standing or sitting almost motionless, and some even manage to fall asleep as well. It is a beautiful picture of peacefulness, and almost (but only almost) it is a shame when it is your turn to pay and you have to tear yourself away from the tranquility.
And then there is the phone company. Like the electricity company, they also offer a drive-thru service. Unfortunately, the drive-thru is always closed, and you can only catch of glimpse of what you are missing out on through a metal fence. So instead, either you queue up inside or you pay at the machine that unfortunately is very particular when it comes to peso notes but which might give you an opportunity to bond with other people while asking them for some change.
I always love the moment when my husband gets home and asks me “So what have you been up to today?” and I can answer “I paid all our bills!” And I ask myself, what the heck was I doing with all that free time back in Seattle???