Every now and again I notice something that is different here then, for example, we learned in kindergarten. Lately, I have become aware of the crossing-each-other-in-a-confined-space-rule. For example, if you are approaching somebody on a narrow path, when it comes time meet, we don´t just crash into each other, but we always move to the right. Right? The person approaching will pass you on your left. Right? We learned this in kindergarten and almost without exception, and without thinking, we do this is the US. That is not the custom here, it seems to be hit or miss, or possibly even the reverse, I can´t tell yet. But I can´t tell you how often I have wanted to say ¨Wanna dance?¨, but they wouldn´t get it.
Another thing that is different is when the waiter (mozo) brings the check. For example, in the US, very often at breakfast or lunch, the check is actually delivered with the food. It´s not that the waiter will ignore us after that, and its not that we are being thrown out, its just that we are free to go at any time. However, I may add that it is sort of unstated that we are also not to stay TOO long, I mean, don´t you have a home?
It is not like that here. First of all, when you order a cup of coffee, you get just that, A cup of coffee. No refills. The coffee is more like espresso, so I guess people don´t want refills anyway. In our little cafe across the street, the mozo brings you a cup of coffee, a shot glass of water and a small cookie or two, and then doesn´t return. They don´t leave the check either. Now, I wondered about this since I arrived and I think I finally figured it out. (Our Argentine readers can correct me if I´m wrong). They don´t return to the table because people rarely order anything else and they just leave you to relax and do what you want. The coffee is only part of the whole cafe experience, the rest is just spending time there. People talk, read the free newspaper, people-watch, work on computers, any variety of things. And very often they stay a really long time by US standards. And they can stay as long as they like and are NEVER expected to leave before they are ready. I think that is why they withhold the check. To serve the check before it is requested would be tantamount to asking the patron to leave, and that just simply isn´t done. So, when you want to leave, you have flag down the mozo and ask.