About Us

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Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Brian & Deya met in Vancouver Canada. After a few years together we were married and made choices. One was not to have children the other was not to take life for granted. The rest is yet to come.

January 25, 2011

Mexican UPDATE!

“Thus critically analyze them to know the estimations for gain or loss”

Sun-Tzu – The Art of War

We’ve been working on our project here and it has been enlightening. For the most part, as we try to do things or get things done I keep finding that people generally don’t know much. Though there seems to be a lot of education in Mexico and in fact the education is not much different than in Canada, there is some kind of disconnect in the ability or drive of people to perform. I have heard of this before but for me it becomes culture shock. Now I wouldn’t say I’m shocked but certainly it’s opening my eyes to how culture plays a roll in a nation’s ability to compete in a global community. A cautious warning to the development of our own culture in Canada.

I spoke with a friend recently about employment opportunities and some concepts for making an impact in a company. He was surprised since the general thought is that you must beg for a job and promise dying loyalty (not performance) in order to be gainfully employed. This notion is accepted since the bosses (Jefes) like the status and power afforded to them over others. As you might imaging this may lead to abuses, bosses who take liberties with company’s property and people, staff who do not excel or even try to perform well and an understanding customer base who doesn’t complain because they probably suffer from the same thing at their work. As we go about we see, in abundance, exactly the mindset described and followed by the actions that we would assume. It’s this mindset, in my opinion, that keeps Mexico as a developing nation. If anyone has a solution or step in the right direction let us throw them a bone so we can invite them into the fold we call North America!

One of the biggest wastes can be seen every day in the policing services. There are many functional silos (I say functional loosely) at work here for example: transit police, municipal police, investigation services, state and federal police. There seems to be a pecking order and not just a lack of cooperation but a status situation occurring. The traffic cops are pretty much the low end of the pole. Every day I walk into town and every day the streets are filled with transit police randomly blowing their whistles. Sometimes they just hide on the side of the road and stare at the wall (I’m not kidding) but for the most part they literally stand in intersections with functional traffic lights and control traffic. They’ll look at the signal and when it’s turning green, stop the opposite traffic in perfect synchronization with the signal lights and direct the traffic flawlessly in cooperation with the signal light.

I told someone here that they do not pay enough taxes, they baulked and complained they pay too much to which I explained that if they paid too much they wouldn’t accept the incredible waste of tax dollars all around them! We found a reason to go to the Municipal police station to make a complaint about a stolen piece of ID. As it turns out the Municipal police does not open files, they only show up if they are called to a problem. Once there they are not responsible, accountable, for the scene, they simply show up ‘guns a blazing’. They occupy the scene and wait for a transit judge or investigator to show up. Of course by the time that happens the entire scene has changed and the continuity of evidence is lost.

Aside from the lack of performance we have been engaged in many other interesting activities, mostly related to our business here. On route one day to the tile shop we passed by a Motel and had an entertaining experience. The motels here are not like the ones in the rest of North America. They get paid by the hour; you can drive your car in and have it obscured from sight by a curtain or garage door. The sole purpose for motels here is for sex. Not that consenting adults should care but in a society with devote acceptance to Catholicism everyone knows what these motels are for and do nothing about it. What’s more is the likely hood of the motel patrons to attend the church the very same week. Simply put, these motels are used for either prostitution, infidelity or other things that acceptably stated adult people would not need them for. The irony is the thought that the rest of North America is loose of character or lacking of moral value. I like to think of it as head in the sand.

So, on the walk to the tile shop, in the middle of the day, Deya squeezed my hand outside of a nearby Motel. I didn’t notice at first what she was trying to tell me then I saw it: a VW car, the driver looking wide eyed for traffic or maybe something else. As we approached the car and driver we had to walk behind him because he seemed to be in a hurry. As we rounded the back of the car I could see in the back seat a lady in her late 30’s to mid 40’s in a shinny, going to town dress laying down across the back seats. I thought, “What the #$@?” and turned to see where they had just come from. I turned to find we were standing in front of a Motel, a garage door just closing. I turned back to have another look at the chubby woman in the back seat lying down with her hair done up, in her finest dinner dress as though she was going for an entertaining evening at a fancy restaurant. I had to laugh, it was too pathetic and funny not to. The driver, I thought, was probably not widely looking for cars passing but watching for someone familiar to come nearby or come along. I only wish I had a good picture to share of this very special find.

It’s difficult to write about some of the everyday things that we’re doing because they are very much like what everyone else does in their day to day lives. We make a special effort to visit some people and engage in cooking and creating things. Deya took a picture of me playing XBOX with a nephew, I feel framed because I was intending to put on my motorcycle boots and go out but when the young lad offered to play a game with him I couldn’t refuse so I stepped into my flip flops and proceeded to the game room. Thanks Bernie for pointing out my shame and Deya for taking a picture of it! White socks and flip flops are a sad representation of who I am and a regrettable incident for sure that I intend not to repeat. It’s almost as bad as when people leave the house in their pyjamas or when larger folks wear spandex tights and baggy T-shirts, it doesn’t make us bad people you know; it just means we have temporarily forgotten good etiquette.

We picked up Tucson Tony in Laguna Verde on the Gulf Coast, outside the Nuclear plant and headed West for Cordoba. En route we came across a large road block which comprised mainly bus drivers protesting the increase in diesel prices and traffic was backed up a long way. We squeezed through and road the ditch to get passed and carried on happy to be on bikes at this point. The time in Cordoba with Tony has been busy acclimatizing, cooking and trying not to do too much but to study Español. Some short trips like the one to Veracruz Port have been interesting; we had to call the police because some one was smashing the roof apart while an all night party raged on. It was epic, the cops stormed our house with assault rifles then left as fast as they came saying only, “No pasa nada”. I guess we were all having the same dream yet the next morning’s inspection showed a lot of broken concrete and pretty much all the copper wiring and TV antennas were gone. I guess four cops with guns figured, “nobody to shoot, no problem” and got back to driving the city with their emergency lights on.

I have recently achieved resident status in Mexico! That means there is no restriction of me being here and I’m not longer considered a visitor. I have then, particular rights as well as the benefits of being a Canadian. This is a good position to be in and will benefit us in some ways. Our construction is getting closer to completion every day and while we have had some troubles we have also had some victories and we are working with good people. Tacos de Perro every Thursday night is a charm and for about 2 bucks you can get 10 tacos al pastor with all the trim in less than ten minutes. The folks at the place are nice too and ensure that their ‘Tacos de Perro’ are better than Mexico City’s ‘Tacos de Rata’.

I recognize that it is fun to be in Spanish classes with Tucson Tony though his Spanish is far more advanced than mine. I’m just coasting but still it’s very valuable. It’s tiring to study and my brain is constantly hurting but it’s also a nice feeling, like exercise and getting ‘the burn’. Our maestro or instructor is a good guy and he is teaching English to larger businesses that require their senior management group to have this skill. As a consequence we’ve been invited to meet with the management group and have a senior tour of the facility. While I prefer a less developed facility it’s always remarkable to me the level of technology in some of the more advanced factories.

The Brewery or Cervecería is one of the largest and most advanced in the world. Their performance in some areas is spectacular and the work environment and benefits are really good for this part of the world. One of the high tech gadgets that they have is the beer canning process. This machine fills and caps the cans at a steady rate of 2000 beer cans per minute. I used to operate a light machine gun that could only fire up to 1100 bullets per minute and that’s really fast! The waist from the process is fractional and really amazing to see. The facility was recently purchased by Heineken and will start the first production of Heineken beers in the Americas next month. This is important because the President of Mexico will be there to taste the first official batch of Heineken beer brewed in Mexico. But you’ll never guess who got to taste the first unofficial batch of Heineken beer brewed in Mexico? You guessed it and it would seem from the experiences we’ve had with beer that is only days old, it tastes better than what we get in the beer and wine store.

Our intentions for the next few weeks will revolve around completing our construction, studying Spanish, trying to visit a few interesting places nearby, saying goodbye to Tucson Tony, finishing up some business transactions, motomaintenance (I just created the word!), renting our places out, getting a property manager and planning our exit of Veracruz. We’ll likely visit the brewery again and hopefully the senior management team, they’re good people, and maybe some other companies while we are here.

Note: it’s been pretty hot here, I got a sun burn recently…lol….Happy January!