Dispatches From Mexico City: Ups And Downs
Last week had some ups and downs here in Mexico City.
In the span of a few days, we had our power cut, my rent money was lost, and I had one of the most fun weekends in recent memory. It was a rollercoaster, to say the least.
The troubles began when a miscommunication in our building over our power bill led to the electricity being cut. Dealing with the of an electricity provider in a foreign language is no fun, let me assure you. But after a few hours – and help from a close friend who’s Spanish is much better than mine – we were able to clear things up and the power was restored at no extra cost.
The following day, I was returning home from seeing Black Panther for the second time and I decided to stop and take my rent money out of an ATM. We pay in cash here because most of our funds are still connected to our banks back in Canada. But after I entered my information and waited an inordinate amount of time, the machine returned to its start screen without giving me my money. The local Mexican bank said there was nothing they could do since my account wasn’t with them. My Canadian bank immediately launched an investigation. After spending a few hours on the phone, with a deep sigh, I resigned myself to my fate. Whatever the outcome of that investigation I would have to live with it.
Running on Empty
That night we ran out of gas.
Admittedly, the gas thing isn’t really a big deal. It happens once a month and we just have to wait until the following day for the gas man to come. At that moment though it was one more problem to deal with.
But my mother likes to say that bad things come in threes. I’m not one for superstition, but I must admit that it was around that time things began to turn around.
That evening, I received a call from someone looking for a banjo player. A small gig, I thought, to earn a little extra spending money. But after doing some research it became evident that the person in question is a rather big deal in the music industry. But the nitty-gritty of that story will have to wait for another day.
The next afternoon I logged into my bank account and my money had been returned. Apparently, there had been some sort of error with the Mexican ATM.
Following that, my band played a concert in a popular BBQ joint here in Mexico City. The show went well and people really seemed to enjoy it. But the real fun came later when we arrived at my friend Evan’s place to celebrate my birthday. Surrounded by good friends, warm food, and cold drinks, I was able to forget about the previous troubles of the week. The night ended in a smokey dance club at the top of a popular food market with some terrible reggaeton music playing too loudly. It was great.
There are a few lessons to be learned here.
First of all, if you’re living in a foreign country, read all of your documents closely. Have someone explain the details to you. Ask too many questions. Don’t assume things operate in your new home like they did in the country you come from.
Second, I will never use that particular ATM again. And if you’re taking out money from a machine in a foreign country, I suggest doing it while the bank is open if you can. If I’d just been able to walk up to a teller and explain what had happened I likely would have been able to get my money back on the spot.
Third, don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s easy to get bogged down by cultural disparities or fatigued by language barriers. Sometimes you’ll miss things. It’s all a learning experience and if you can surround yourself with good people who won’t judge you as you dance around like an idiot, you’re doing just fine.
Ty Trumbull, from his base in Mexico City, covers the entrepreneur’s journey and business continuity for ChannelE2E. Each Tuesday or so, he offers views about his adopted hometown — his personal Dispatches from Mexico City. Oh, but sometimes he pops up in his home nation of Canada.