If you have lived in Mexico for a while, the title of this article will sound a familiar ring. If you come to live in Mexico for a while, you will, without doubt, become well acquainted with this short phrase that expresses more than it appears to at first blush.
Out of stuff
No Hay, in Spanish, means “there isn’t any,” and in Mexico the term may be applied to almost anything, anytime you need or wish to acquire something.
For example, the term may be used to express:
- a dearth of foodstuffs, “No hay galletas que te gustan” (they don’t have the biscuits you like);
- stuff in general, “No hay lentes de contacto” (no contact lenses in stock);
- and even services, “No hay luz” (power cut).
Batch availability of foods and other goods
While the overall availability of all kinds of things is Mexico has improved immensely in recent times, in comparison to its northern neighbor, a continuous reliable supply of certain types of goods can still be a hit-and-miss affair here, even in some of the up-scale stores where imported goods are most readily available, and where items on display this week might not be there again within a month—and might never return.
This inconsistent and ‘limited batch’ pattern of supply can sometimes be a source of frustration, in most part, because Murphy’s Law dictates that in Mexico, the infamous ‘No Hay’ will spring up at the precise moment when whatever isn’t available will cause you some inconvenience, and never when it really doesn’t matter.
The impact of No Hay
The ‘no hay’ effect may be mitigated with some forward planning, but it can never be completely avoided.
It could be that your car just broke down, and ‘no hay’ applies to the very part it happens to need now; perhaps the local store has run out of a key ingredient you need for tonight’s dinner party; the gift idea you saw in-passing at CostCo won’t be there next month; or perhaps you’ve been looking forward to eating tamales, and the restaurant you sit down at “doesn’t have any today.”
The impact of ‘no hay’ also depends upon where you are situated, how much energy you’re willing to expend in locating whatever it is you want or need, and what price you’re willing to pay to obtain it.
For example, if a store in Mexico City you go to says ‘no hay,’ there’s a high probability that some other place in the capital will have stock, if you’re willing to wear-out the boot leather on your soles (but more often, the tread on your car’s tires) to find it.
If you are in the provinces, ‘no hay’ could mean ‘no hay’ for hours, days, or weeks, —or ever— leaving you with little alternative but to try the next nearest ‘bigger’ town or city. Or Amazon.com.mx and its Latin American equivalent, MercadoLibre.com.mx.
Finding peace with No Hay
In the moment when it happens, ‘no hay’ may be frustrating, inconvenient or disappointing to your situation. Nonetheless, when you live in Mexico, the omnipresent ‘no hay’ will pay homage to your situations sooner or later.
A corollary hidden within ‘no hay‘ is that it presents an occasion to break a habitual pattern of buying or wanting the same things over and again, inviting you to make a different choice and try something else.
Part of the art of living in places like Mexico is that one comes to accept that, on some occasions, you just can’t—and that’s as it is. It’s part of the lifestyle tapestry here that encourages you to make peace with the fluid situations that will visit you, and ultimately with yourself.
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