Saturday, March 08, 2008

Something to Talk About

I've mentioned before that we have some great views of what is happening on our street and this past week gave us something to talk about as we try to understand more of the Mexican culture. Mexicans definitely handle many things differently than we do in the USA. One of the major differences is their laws, which of course we don't understand except on a rudimentary level. And of course, we have the same rudimentary level of understanding with their interaction with each other. I don't know if we'll ever really understand but we certainly love observing and trying to figure it out.

The first thing that happened was a delivery truck broke down coming the wrong way up our street. The back end of the truck had broken away from the front end. When I first noticed it a transito police on a motorcycle was pulling up beside him. My thought was, oh no....he is busted for going the wrong way on the one way street.

Ned had been out and when he returned about 30 minutes had past and I had watched the driver making cell phone calls, the transito walking around the truck with a note pad of some kind and of course, since there was nothing blocking the street, cars and trucks would start down the street until they got to the broken truck and then they would have to back up because they could not get around the broken truck. Backing up wasn't so bad for the cars but the big trucks do not have much clearance on either side so we watched with fascination, as we always do, the driving skill of the drivers. We wondered why someone, the transito or the truck driver had not put cones in the street to give the other drivers some warning. Of course the answer was probably neither of them had any cones.
Several other cars and a transito truck and a police truck arrived on the scene. Several people seem to have cameras and they were going around the broken truck taking pictures. Apparently the people in the transito truck told the motorcycle driver to come up the street and stop the traffic from coming down the street. He pulled his motorcycle about half way up the street and sat there until the cars and trucks got to him and then he would tell them to back up and go the other way. Soon he must have gotten some more instructions so he came to the corner and put his motorcycle across the street to block the traffic and went and stood in the shade but at least it got the attention of the drivers before they started down the street.

After an hour of this, a wrecker came and in another 15 minutes or so a flatbed wrecker came. The first wrecker lifted the back end of the truck and the flatbed pulled the whole thing up on the flatbed. Almost an hour and half after I noticed the broken truck on our street, all was cleared away and life was back to normal.

The next thing that happened was yesterday afternoon. We heard some loud voices in the street. We couldn't see anything from the dining room so we headed up to the terrace. By the time we were on the terrace we could see that some of the teenage boys were exchanging the loud words and some of them were taking off their shirts and getting ready to fight if necessary.
Moms and Dads, Grandmothers and Grandfathers, girlfriends and wives were coming out and trying to calm the boys down. One bunch of boys started walking away down the street but then the police arrived. First one truck and then another and another. There must have been three or four policemen in each truck. The boys who were walking off came back wanting to be sure that the police got the whole story.

Now we have these clusters of people gathered around several of the policemen. From our vantage point it looked like the policemen were going from one group to another brokering a peace. Some of the boys and relatives would break up in groups and talk and then come back to a policeman. Ned went down to try to find out what was going on. One of the neighbors told him that two of the boys didn't like each other.

Finally the crowd thinned out, the police left and all that was left was a few groups of neighbors talking in their doorways. We hear that the Mexican people don't trust the police but they call the police to come whenever something is going on in the street. So it would seem on some level they do trust them.

We have talked about why did they do this or that or why didn't they do such and such. I'm not saying that the way either of these situations would have been handled in the United States is right and their way is wrong. I'm just saying that trying to figure out the why is a fascinating study in our cultural differences. And it certainly is a topic of conversation at our dinner table.


Maebah said...

Las calles en San Miguel? yo no vivo por ahí pero lo he visitado...en cuanto a la policía y lo que va sucediendo siempre con asunto de todos los días!


wayne said...

We, as foreigners, will never know the "why" of anything here. Heck, most Mexicans I ask don't even understand why things are done this way or that way. The only thing I really lose sleep over anymore is WHY won't the police investigate burglaries?