From my Honduran dichos (sayings) t-shirt
Is it generalizing too much to say this?:
Whether it is a move, a job, a wedding, or a vacation, N. Americans prefer to research, study, plan, organize, schedule, and book in advance. They like to know when, where, why, how, how much, and how long it will take. They like for things to be logical and timely and come in on budget. They want to enter it on their calendar and neatly check it off the day it is done, which of course will be the day that it was scheduled to be done.
There is nothing wrong with all that, except that this kind of attitude is the most common cause of insanity in Central American expatriates. ;-D
I have to chuckle at some of the plans that I hear or read about, not at the people − because I understand completely where they are coming from − but at the situations.
No matter how carefully something is planned and organized, it just won't happen that way in Central America. You can ask 20 people and lay out the best plans in the world based on the best information in the world with the most reliable people in the world, but it just won't happen the way that you planned.
The bus will be late or leave an hour early, the ferry won't run that day, the taxi driver will take you to the wrong place, the people you were supposed to meet won't be there, the restaurant will be closed, the "sistema" will be down, the store will be out of stock, the bank will be closed, the plumber won't show up, the transportistas will be on strike, the electricity will be out, etc., etc., etc. SOMETHING will happen to ruin those well-thought out plans.
Here are some of the best tips that I can give to expatriates in Central America: Go with the flow. Make your plans but knock them down a few notches. Allow room for adjustments. Be prepared to change your plans, and then to change the changes to your plans. Lower your expectations. Be happy if you can get two things done in one day and don't even try to accomplish ten as you might do in the US. Enjoy the small successes.
You'll live longer and we won't have to lock you away in some Central American insane asylum.