Culture & History, Learn Spanish

No Hay

If you have lived in Mexico for a while, the title of this article will sound a familiar ring

Spanish Pinpointed

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 these two words.

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.

The term may be used to express a dearth of foodstuffs, “No hay leche” (no milk today), stuff in general, “No hay lentes de contacto” (no contact lenses in stock), and even services, No hay luz” (power cut).

While the overall availability of all kinds of things and services is Mexico has improved immensely in recent years, in comparison to its northern neighbors, the continuous reliable supply of certain types of goods and services can sometimes still be a hit-and-miss affair here.

This inconsistency 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.

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; 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 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.

The ‘no hay’ effect may be mitigated with some forward planning, but it may never be completely avoided.

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.  In the moment when it happens, ‘no hay’ may be frustrating or inconvenient to your situation. Nonetheless, when you live in Mexico, the omnipresent ‘no hay’ will pay homage to your situations sooner or later.

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