“Patience is waiting. Not passively waiting. That is laziness. But to keep going when the going is hard and slow - that is patience.”
I am not a patient person. I admit this is one of my many character flaws. I can trace my impatience back to several things in my life, but I'm going to save the childhood re-living for another day. The positive thing is that I have learned to be more patient over my time living here in El Salvador, which I consider the Land of Patience, not to mention how my patience has grown since becoming a mother. But again, that's a story for another day.
I honestly don't know how these people here do it. It's like being patient really is in their blood. For example, most people take the bus as the mode of transportation in the country. Depending on where you are going and the time you have to arrive, more than likely you will be waiting for the bus every day. Once you are on the bus, you will then have to stop a dozen times for more people before you actually reach your destination. Which means you had to get up earlier, get to the bus stop earlier just to take 2 hours to get somewhere that's only 45 minutes away.
Then you have the bank. That's the worst. I've been to the bank on two separate occasions this week, which is actually quite unusual for me to even leave the house so it's been exciting. The first time I went was with my MIL. Luckily the bank is in the "mall" so Liliana and I could walk around and play on all the rides and have fun. The reason I say we are lucky is because it took 45 minutes just for my MIL to get through the line in the bank. Then once she got up to the window, they wouldn't even do the transaction in which we went for. Of course during the waiting I got impatient. Liliana had played on every ride twice and there were creepy gang members there freaking me out a little, so I was ready to go. My MIL? Well let me tell you...I just couldn't believe that she had waited all that time in line for nothing! But her reaction? Not much. It didn't even seem to phase her, except her saying her feet were tired and that's completely understandable. She never complained about the bank once!
The second time I went to the bank was with Eduardo. It was a similar scenario. He waited in the long line and Liliana and I took to the rides again. I didn't find myself as impatient this time as I knew what to expect. I went to check on Eduardo at one point and he had waited in the long line only to find out he had been in the wrong line! He was very happy about this and was getting impatient. Ha! I think the States took away some of his patience.
Then there's the grocery store. There's always atleast 5 people in front of you and the person working always seem to be going very slow. There's the restaurants where food seems to take twice as long to prepare than in the States. And then there's Immigration and waiting for a visa that sometimes feels like a dream. That's a true test of patience. But let's not forget the daily life of just hanging out. Now that doesn't sound bad does it? Just hanging out all day, never knowing what will happen next. Well let me tell you, that's been a whole other post on control I think ;)
So what makes Salvadorans so patient and myself and lots of other Americans I know to be so impatient? I really wish I had the answer. One thing I do know is that it seems as if people down here appreciate life more. They take the time for the little things. Nobody misses the afternoon coffee with homemade pan dulce, or sweet bread. People work the land and live on the land. They are in tune with all their surroundings. They don't rush around all day like chickens with their heads cut off. I first saw this type of lifestyle as "lazy", but it's actually quite the opposite. It's just so different than the life most of us Americans know that it's hard to adjust to at first.
People here aren't so self-absorbed and feel as though the work revolves around them. Come on, let's be honest. That really is how most Americans are, even if they aren't aware of it. We get mad about waiting in lines whether it's the grocery store, bank, movie theatre, whatever. We get mad if our computer seems to be running slower than usual and we can't check our email or Facebook at the exact time we want to. We get road rage when people aren't driving how we would like or are preventing us from speeding. How screwed up is that?! I think Americans have a lot to learn from Salvadorans and other Latin cultures.
But as I said in the beginning, El Salvador has had a positive influence on me. I feel I appreciate more what I have right now. I appreciate the people around me and I don't take them for granted. I appreciate where my food comes from and the lengths everyone around me have gone to for getting that food on our table. I don't expect everything to be how I think it should be (probably because it never is).
I may still be a slightly impatient person. Okay, maybe more than slightly. The States definitely brings it out in me! But I'm learning from this culture and I'm coming to more of a balance with both worlds. I love that Liliana is growing up knowing both cultures and taking the best of both!