Blocked and Can't Move? Welcome To Mexico

An Oblivious Culture of Courtesy 

They take pride in having good manners.  Even Mexican gangsters will be courteous while they rob you.  But this courtesy isn’t logical as much as it is stylized manners.  Mexicans will block your driveway and garage.  They stop and talk on city streets so you cannot pass.  Groups will congregate around kiosks in the mall, forcing others to either push through or backtrack and find another route.  Spatial awareness doesn’t exist in Mexico. 

A Culture Rooted in Rural Values

Mexicans are mostly descended from farmers and peasants.  In a rural environment, there’s always a lot of space.  Country folk see each other regularly, and lack of courtesy is remembered.  You don’t criticize, at least not open and directly.  So when you see Mexicans in a city environment, the culture doesn’t prepare them for a lack of space.

It doesn’t matter how big the sidewalk is.  In Guadalajara and Mexico City, sidewalk sizes rival those of New York City.  Americans meeting each other on a crowded street quickly take themselves out of the flow of traffic so people can pass.  In Mexico, they stand in the middle of everything and make others go around.  It’s amazing to watch.  Two families will be out on Sunday afternoon and meet one another on a corner, where sidewalks meet.  They’ll fill all available space.  No one says anything.  That would be rude.  Huge crowds can get backed up and no one will complain.  

Double Parked and Completely Blocked

Go to the beach or some other event with your car, and you may be there until the last person leaves.  The first to arrive may find themselves blocked in .  There are no tow trucks to enforce parking laws, because there are no rules or regulations.   Party goers regularly block garages.  If the owner has to leave, he needs to find the person and make appeal.  The asshole who blocked the other guys property usually acts mildly aggrieved.   The victim must display an apologetic demeanor for disturbing the party or risk being thought rude.

The Sidewalks Are Public, But Not Really

If a restaurant decides they want to use the sidewalk, they just put out tables.  There’s usually a small pathway used by waiters and pedestrians.  In case of arrivals or departures, someone trying to pass can either wait or step in the street.  Especially where there are parked cars and a narrow lane for cars, trucks and buses, stepping in the street can be a bad idea. 

It’s the same in neighborhoods.  Homeowners plant trees and shrubs at the edge of sidewalks, then forget about them.  Things grow fast in the tropics.  In no time, unruly branches make passing impossible.  There are no city employees tasked with keeping things open.  Entire neighborhoods with sidewalks are impassable.   Worse, cars have the right of way.  Tough luck for you if you step in front of a passing car because the sidewalk is blocked.  It never occurs to the neighbors to demand the owner trim the bushes to clear the walkway.  That would be rude.