Today is Easter Sunday and Daylight Savings clock changing time all wrapped up into one. There will be throngs of converted folks visiting churches and cathedrals around the world to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But this is but a tricky entrance to another conversion – that of going metric.
Converting things is a way of life when you live in a country where you have limited communication skills and the measure of anything usually falls within foreign standards. It starts with converting funds and then:
The metric system – wow – major conversions required there. In the past I have written about how much I like the metric system as opposed to the United States stubborn stance on using something other than about 95 percent of the world.
If you Google ‘The Metric System’ the first thing out of their mouth is, The metric system is an internationally agreed decimal system of measurement that was originally based on… Did you catch the internationally agreed…?
Google goes on to say, the official system of measurement in almost every country in the world.
Before I left the United States where I was born and bred I did have some decimal system interaction being an engineer type – but my metric acumen was limited at best. So when I came to Mexico, for me what was required was a numbers version of immersion Spanish language lessons.
The Calypso Couple is having their tenth anniversary of living in Mexico as we speak. In that time I am clearly a convert – in the decimals; my command of the Spanish language is, well, not great.
Shortly after getting our new scooter last October, I wanted to purchase a cover to protect the little La Poderosa (we call her, our scooter, Rosa for short). We went to Auto Zone, yes we have an Auto Zone in Puerto, where an average quality cover started at 300 pesos; one that would not likely hold up through too many seasons of the sun – which is pretty constant here. . We held off deciding to check other options.
We discovered a very nice canvas like cover being sold by a street vendor near the Mercado. We bargained from 400 pesos down to 200, where I was pretty sure we had reached the bottom line. We brought it home and loved it and so did Rosa feeling quite protected. This for less than 14 usd – cool.
4- tarps for 800 pesos or about $55 usd total.
In a short time we decided we had use for more of these tarps around the casa to button it up when we are gone for 5 months. As no-luck would have it, we could not find that or any other vendor selling the tarps for several months.
One time there was an inside vendor selling them – but they were stuck on 400 pesos – you might imagine how hard it would have been for a cheapskate like me to pay double – that was not going to happen
We continued for many weeks keeping an eye out for another vendor of street tarps. Then the other day as we are nearing leaving there was a vendor, the two, on the streets again near the Mercado. And finally here is where the metric system comes in; Even though I had a tape measure in the scooter we just asked the two hombres with stacks of tarps what size or sizes are available? They asked what size we wanted and/or what size was the one we like and want to duplicate, having told them the story to let them know we had already haggled to 200 so let us not back track on that.
The hombres were unpacking and laying out different colored tarps at a rapid pace. I recalled having measured the tarp at home that it was 233 by 275 centimeters which is roughly 7’8″ by 9 feet. “Do you have that size?” I asked.
“Si amigo, we have 3 meters by 3.5 meters.”
I started to convert these meters to feet – this did not go fast enough for these two aggressive sales hombres – that one was already being packed up and the blue one 250 by 300 centimeters came out. O.K. without converting I knew 250 was bigger than 233 and 300 was also bigger than 275 – so that would work. And sounded like a good size. They put the blue aside now we were moving on to the red one. We had told them we wanted three in total as a bargaining chip.
Eventually we had three of various sizes, but all satisfactory and at least as large as the one covering Rosa. As we continued shopping in the Mercado I would set the stack of three tarps down looking at them like a conqueror – finally we have tarps!
Eventually it dawned on me that I want one more. Anita said, “You better hurry and find those guys”. But they were not to be found.
As we were crossing the street there was another street ‘tarp seller’. I asked about sizes. He had a blue one that was 2.5 meters by 3 meters for 200 pesos – he started out at our final haggling price with the other vendors – we did not argue just bought it.
So we got home where I grabbed our existing motor scooter cover and measure it again – it was as I had remembered 233 by 275. I wanted all our four new tarps to be at least that – my brain was a mishmash of centimeters and yards by now.
Anita and I laid out each of the new tarps, measuring them.
And here is the kicker; they all measured exactly the same as the tarp covering our scooter – all the same.
I am thinking these guys had to have known this; and probably had a good laugh at our expense.
But we had the last laugh because we got what we wanted all along and do not have to think about which one is what-size-in-metric or inches, feet and yards or which color was what size etc.
Remember these street vendors will tell you what you want to hear – bring a tape measure and use it. And better yet learn the decimal system. Doing the math arguably Fahrenheit versus centigrade withstanding, the rest is the Decimal System wins hands down – or ten fingers’ and ten toes… right? Stay Tuned.