The Mexican Three

Things always seem to happen in threes. But in Mexico, things always happen differently. Five minutes in Mexico cannot be measured on a watch. Manaña may never come at all. And so to my tale of woe. First, the taps in the shower have gone. We have buckets collecting the drip drip drips – mustn`t waste water. Then my iPod bust. The centre button won`t work and without it….well, I can see the options but cannot select anything.

My wireless internet modem bust weeks ago. Now my old cable modem has gone too. Yes, I am in an internet cafe. There`s the third thing. That`d be it. So I thought. No. The electricity has been going off regularly too. Some time ago, perhaps as much as six months, President Calderon shut down the main Electricity company working in Mexico City, and fired everyone in it. Not, as it turned out, an entirely unpopular move.

Even the most ardent `power to the people`left wingers I know, who oppose Calderon in everything he does, agree with his actions here. Corruption, nepotism, inefficiency, blatant mis management – all are applied to the Electricity Company. A different company has taken over. Our bills are lower.

Was I being ripped off before, or am I being bought now? Couldn`t tell you. I do know that the power has been going off more regularly, and for longer periods. Just got out of a 20 hour power cut. Is it because the firing of all those staff means maintenance isn`t being carried out? Some say so. Others mention sabotage. Perhaps our problem is just a local issue. Couldn`t tell you.  I do know, though, that the headlamp I bought for climbing Izta last year comes in mighty useful! And I can tell Don Felipe what he wants to know. Yes, the fired workers are still camped outside their HQ in Reforma.

And then I banged my watch against something hard, and that broke too. Modem, iPod, electricity, watch and taps. Taps and a plumber will cost. And there I was with dreams of buying a ticket to go watch Roger Waters perform The Wall at the O2 arena in London next year…..pfffff!

Still, there are always bright spots. Like the language. I still chuckle when I see bread branded `Bimbo`. It`s grown old on me now, but still. And then there`s the Spanish for `pregnant`. Embarazada. Depends who the father is, I would have though. Then last night I came acrossa couple of signs. One of which is new to me, the other not so. Mas espuma? Sounds dodgy to me! Not sure I want any of that in my coffee, let alone more.

And then there`s the sign which very clearly tells you where not to park your butt. I know it`s silly, but us Brits tend to have a very silly and childish sense of humour. And any word with àrse`in it is going to raise a titter or two. Anyhoo…guess I best get back home to a world devoid of light and internet.


26 thoughts on “The Mexican Three

  1. Pgonzalez says:

    However corrupt the union was, firing 44,000 people overnight was bang out of order. Even Thatcher gave the miners a consultation period!

    And why go after the electricity union? Why not the teachers’ union, which is equally corrupt? Because the leader of the teachers’ union got Calderon into power! So why the electricians’ union? Because the leader of the union supports Calderon’s biggest rival!

    I’m not a communist, far from it, I just think it’s important to recognise the sacking of the workers for what it was – a move against a political adversary, not reform.


    • In hindsight, I bet Thatcher wished she had just shut down the mines you know….

      I`m not going to argue in favour of Calderon´s consistency. Politics is never consistent. The teachers union, from what I´ve heard though, is the most corrupt of the lot. As is the whole educational system. Want to buy a degree? A real degree? I can put you in touch. About 21,000 pesos I believe. I`m sure it`s negotiable…


      • Obet says:

        Can you get me in contact with the Santo Domingo’s mafia?… Wow!… Certainly you have stayed a long time in Mexico City Gary, I knew that in contrast to the gringos, the English feels attraction by the darkest parts of the places that they visit. 😀

        You should go to the Sonora’s market and get a “limpia” maybe that fix your bad luck problems (or maybe to give maintenance sometimes to your devices would serve) 😀


      • I´ve never pursued the potential of a fake degree to its source I´m afraid! It´s just a matter of knowing someone who knows someone who ultimately works in a university. Not hard…


  2. Pgonzalez: I live mostly in Michoacán where CFE has long been our electricity provider. I also have an apartment in Mexico City. There was a startling difference between the crappy services provided in Mexico City and that provided here in the provinces by CFE, which is far superior. CFE is a well-run outfit. Kicking the old Mexico City providers into the street was a wonderful move, and I applaud it. They got what they deserved.

    Gary: If you haven´t gotten your iPod to work yet, try this:

    1. Toggle the Hold switch on and off. (Slide to Hold, then turn it off again.)

    2. Press and hold the Menu and Select buttons until the Apple logo appears, about 6 to 10 seconds. You may need to repeat this step.

    I have unfrozen my iPod with this routine on more than one occasion.


  3. Pgonzalez says:

    Felipe: I hear you, the service was rubbish – many’s a time I’ve been in a restaurant trying to eat by candlelight!

    1) They weren’t fired because the service was rubbish. It’s not about that. It was a political move designed to hurt the PAN’s biggest political rival who received a lot of money from the electricians’ union.

    2) Also – putting 44,000 people out of a job is just wrong. They weren’t all inefficient and corrupt – that’s not the way people or companies work. I’m sure a lot of them were lazy and featherbedding, but not all. And if even just one was doing his job properly then it’s wrong to fire him. This is the reason we have employment law.

    Mexico will never advance if the cliques are allowed to pull crap like this and get away with it.


    • I could be wrong here, but weren`t the fired employees all given the opportunity to apply for jobs with the new provider? Sure, there would be limited vacancies available. But I suspect there are a pretty limited number of workers who had performed well enough to be re-employed.

      As I said, even the real ´commies´in DF have generally approved of the closure of the Electricity company. Obviously not those who worked there. Nor their children, who had jobs there lined up for them….


      • Touché! Hear, hear! If they had been warned ahead of time, it would just have given them time to burn all the records (which were still on paper and typed on antique typewriters instead of the computers CFE uses), take to the streets and make life more miserable for the general citizenry.

        And, yes, it should be done to the teachers too.

        The sindicatos in this country are a joke. One of my sisters-in-law works for a teacher union in Morelia. She does squat that´s useful. Mostly, she joins street barricades and mouths revolutionary slogans.


  4. steve roche says:

    That’s not just any ‘No Parking’ sign.

    It was a “Do not Park Your 1939 Duesenberg Here” sign.
    Any other car, is fine.



  5. Pgonzalez says:

    They were given the opportunity to apply but only a few hundred got re-hired.

    And if Luz y Fuerza was the problem, then why are the lights still going off? And even more than before?

    Felipe: “and yes, it should be done to the teachers too”. But it won’t will it? Because the PAN needs Esther’s votes.

    Gary: Who are these commie mates of yours?! They’re pretty lightweight!


    • Well why the lights were still going off, and more frequently, was the subject of my post! Poor maintenance or sabotage….take your pick.

      I used the word ´commies´in a light hearted manner. Communism has never been the same since the assassination of Trotsky and the passing of the muralists. Some of my students and amigos are pretty left wing though. Enough that I keep politics out of that class to save tempers overheating.

      But still, as I say, I come across plenty of people from all walks of life in DF, and not a single person has a good thing to say about either Luz nor Calderon. Not a one resents Calderon for shutting them down. At the end of the day, it´s the tax payers funding their high jinks and early retirements. Not everyone wants to…

      Do you know just how appalling that company is? Or was? Not just the losses they were making, but their entire way of conducting business and running the company. The British miners were a tame lot by comparison.


  6. Pgonzalez says:

    I don’t dispute the company was bad. But throwing them all out of work was wrong. And the whiff of political expediency is just too strong for comfort.

    And this sabotage thing – well, maybe. But perhaps it’s because they just fired all the people who looked after the grid!

    Keep politics out of class – look how much fun we’re having! You should throw it in every now and again!


  7. Kim G says:

    I hear the lights go off a lot because of the diablitos, the illegal connections made to power lines that sometimes short them out and trip a breaker.

    And knowing Mexicans, (and I do), it’s not hard to imagine that it could be several hours before anyone calls the electricity company to complain about the lack of power.

    Based on observing my own friends there, Mexicans seem almost pathologically averse to complaining about bad service.


    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where if we’re paying for something, we expect it to work.


    • The diablitos explanation makes a lot of sense. I’m also surprised there aren’t deaths from people playing with the electricity wires. Maybe there are, and it’s too normal to be newsworthy. Who knows?

      And yes…one of my biggest complaints is to do with how much hard work it is to get Paola to phone up someone to make a complaint sometimes! I’m just too deaf to be able to communicate by phone….!

      Mexico DF
      Where if we’re paying for something, we usually wonder how much we’re being ripped off…


      • Kim G says:

        I too have wondered about people being killed trying to get free electricity from power lines. Perhaps it is so common as to not be newsworthy, as you note. But then I haven’t heard any stories about people dying either.

        Frankly, CFE could probably put a stop to it fairly easily by providing free (or billed) electricity to street vendors. Even if free, it’d likely be cheaper than constantly having to restore service where it’s been knocked out by someone stringing up their own wire. And I’m sure the ratepayers would be delighted to have uninterrupted power.

        You should ask Paola if she knows of people killed in the pursuit of free electricity. If it’s common, she probably knows about it.


        Kim G
        Boston, MA
        Where we wonder if this tagline thing getting tired.


      • I did once see someone fry himself on a power line. A guy on the roof of a two story building was having a metal ladder passed/hurled up to him. He caught it, it brushed against the cables, there was a flash and then he was slumped over the wall looking pretty unconscious. I hope that’s all he was, anyway….

        The tagline never gets tiresome…!


  8. Diandio says:

    Hoy soy de canada y aqui se utiliza mucho el metodo de la tv para llavarlo a cabo, funciona muy bien a pesar de que muchos no lo crean


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