Ok Central America, you win. I lay prostrate at your feet and am willing to surrender to your charm, your eccentricities, and even the downright annoyingly ridiculous phrase mas o menos which, in translation means “more or less,” but in Mexico (and Cuba) actually means “I-can-tell-you-whatever-I-want-even-if-I-know-I’m-wrong-as-long-as-I-slap-on-a-mas-o-menos.
I fought Central America for the longest time…and that’s just not like me. I’m an “experienced” traveler right? I love new cultures, I know not to judge new places solely through the eyes of my Western upbringing, but yet, sometimes, there’s just something in me that rebels.
Like the fact that I wear a watch. I like things to run on time. Call me anal, call me what you will, if you say 20 minutes, I’ll be there waiting in 20 minutes. And so, if that estimation of a two hour cab ride is really just a product of an fantastically imaginative guess…five and a half hours later…I’m justified in being frustrated right?
At least not here.
I think I went a bit soft on my several months home in the US over the holidays, because somehow I forgot the pivotal lesson that India taught me: just surrender to the experience. Other travelers are often fascinated by the fact that I’ve traveled to India…for those who haven’t been yet, I tell them they’ll hate the country if they’re not willing to just let go of control and preconceived notions and just surrender to the country, the people, and the total experience.
Each new country I encounter has its own little quirk – and it’s often this quirk, be it a phrase, a food, or a mentality that I most love and remember once I leave.
And for me, Mexico (and Cuba, although obviously I never went there ;-) it’s the mas o menos phrase that I’ve actually come to love.
In fact, I really love it, and here’s why – precision is not important, rather it’s the quality of the tale, the gist of the conversation, or your best guess that’s perfectly acceptable. Now, when telling a story here I have the freedom to either grossly exaggerate or massively deadpan my tale. And as long as I end it with a big grin and a mas o menos, it’s really not a lie right? Because I’m telling the truth…more or less ;-)