Hurry Up and Wait

One of our goals in coming to Uruguay was to slow down.

Getting out of the business rat race of the United States would allow us to take life at a slower pace and enjoy each other and our everyday world more, right? Well, a lot has been written about the pace of life in South America and how the siesta culture allows you to slow down. Many smaller stores are closed between 12-2 or 2-4 in the afternoon. !Manaña, manaña! is also a common thought meaning, it'll get done tomorrow. There are no consequences for being late and dinnertime is normally at 9 PM or later.

I've come to the conclusion that patience and the ability to wait is not necessarily inherent in the people here, it is the pace of outside factors that has made the people relax and well...wait.  

Everything takes longer, from the laundry drying on the line, to waiting in a queue at the bank, to taking a number everywhere you go.  People seem fine by this. I on the other hand, am still an antsy North American who has not learned the art of waiting.

Wait and wait. Then wait some more. 

This week I was at a doctors appointment.  Scheduled for 5:20 PM, I got in to see the doctor at almost 7PM. I had things to do. I was playing games on my phone, writing notes for the things to discuss with my doctor and texting my other half, who was wondering where the hell I was..

As I glanced around the waiting room around me, people were just sitting. Patiently. Many not doing anything for an hour and a half. They were not looking at their phones, not reading a book or magazine. They were doing NOTHING but sitting there. I was going insane and must have looked like I had ants in my pants with how much I was squirming and stretching.

When I actually got in to see my Dr., she took more than 20 minutes with me to discuss some changes in prescriptions and I got her personal cell phone number in case I have any questions. I never felt rushed like I have so many times in the USA. I felt cared for.

This is just the pace of life.

I've also noticed that you rarely see people eating or drinking (other than the traditional mate, which is an herbal, bitter green tea that is consumed so much in Uruguay and Argentina that people carry it along with them in a gourd cup with metal straw) while walking or on the bus. Fast food is not extremely common and even at McDonald's, people more frequently eat inside or take it back to their home or office to eat with others.

After 18 months here in Uruguay, I' ve learned that I do not have patience.

Is this something that can be learned? It does not seemed to be ingrained since birth with Uruguayos. Are they just resigned to the fact that every  tramite (official appointment) takes a ton of time?   I do not know. All I know is that life is not necessarily slower in Uruguay, drivers are still fast and impatient, people still have lots of things to do, but in many ways life is more deliberate. Personal interactions are valued more and people are willing to wait for the important things.