We were beginning to realise that things worked differently here. If something arrived some time on the day it was supposed to, then that was actually an efficient delivery service, never mind how many hours you've had to stay in waiting - that's irrelevant. Some people call this the 'manana culture' (wadever ...), but in fact it goes much deeper than that. It's actually more like a whole alternative universe: the 'Manana Universe' with it's own unique laws and principles.
For instance, built in to the way things worked in this universe was the (relative) certainty that everybody would be late for an appointment. The game was guessing by just how much (the so-called 'Manana Uncertainty Principle' - or 'MUPpet's Law'). If someone were actually to turn up on time, the delicate balance which is the 'Manana Space-Time-Continuum' would be thrown into complete mayhem, nothing would work, and the universe might even be sucked into a black hole created by an on-time delivery man.
I think I've already mentioned that I'm a highly intelligent super-sophisto dog, and understand these kind of things. So I knew there was actually a whole branch of quantum physics devoted to studying how things work in the 'Manana Universe'.
A good example of this was the washing machine in our new home. It was a kind of 'manana washing machine'. You switched it on, and it made helpful noises for while, but then it would sort of shrug and go for a siesta, and you'd be left wondering if perhaps it would decide to finish the rest of the spin cycle some time in the indefinite future - perhaps when the sun had gone down and all the other washing machines had sprung into life for a bit of 'electrodomesticos socialising'. The manana washing machine always knew if it was a fiesta day. There seemed to be one of those most weeks, and no-one / nothing worked. Again the game was predicting when they'd occur. MUPpet's Law seemed to have something to do with it, because there was certainly a lot of uncertainty involved in guessing when a fiesta (or the washing machine) would spring into life.
We'd been here barely a week, and we were already finding out that things were hardly every quite as they at first seemed in this new universe. For one thing, some things could be both true and untrue at the same time, without much of a contradiction or anyone actually being accused of telling untruths. The locals had a phrase that you'd hear quite often: "mas o menos" and there were others: "temporary problem" meant "could take an unlimited number of mananas", and "no problem" equalled "time to get really worried".
Another source of uncertainty in the Manana Universe was that most of the time, things that could go wrong did inevitably go wrong, but sometimes they'd surprise you by working - if not perfectly, then at least a hell of a lot better than you'd ever thought they would. English-speaking humans have expressions that express the first part of this: Sod's Law, Murphy's Law ... the French say stuff like "c'est la vie", and as we dogs say: "Life's a Bitch". But the dogs around here say: "Manana's a Bitch ... preferable a hot poodle with a cute little butt !"
Illustrations by Annie Chapman