Slangy Sabados: Mexican Time

Technically this isn't a post about slang words, but a lesson in trying to understand the Mexican sense of time.

We've spent 5 days in Mochitlan for the festival of Santa Ana. The town has published large posters with a detailed schedule of all the events that were to take place over the course of 2 weeks. I was super keen to get photos and talk to the families cooking the traditional meals served for free to everyone that comes: Huacashtoro, pozole, atole, barbacoa. Every day I asked multiple people when they'd be cooking this dish or having that event. Usually I'd get a straight answer. Nearly every time it turned out to be incorrect - or the plan changed. The next day I'd get a different answer.

Those of you who have moved here from Canada, the US, or Europe know how frustrating it is to make time–specific plans, or get things done on (your) time. I've been living here for nearly 6 years and married to a Mexican for 4. I'm still not used to it. But learning how to interpret words for time like a local, rather than as a direct translation, helps.

Ahora - means "now", but you'd do well to place that "now" on a broader time scale

Ahorita - means "right now", but that could be "right this minute" or "in 5 minutes," or "within the next few hours."

Rato/Ratito - means soon or in a little bit. In my experience that means by the end of the day, but certainly not always.

Luego - means "later", but often means "I'll get to it when I feel like it." Which could be never.

Luego luego - translates to "later, later" and can sometimes mean that – like a prolonged later – but can also mean "right now."

Make sense yet?

Essentially, the best way to understand Mexican time is to not even try. It'll happen when it happens.