When Work Becomes a Walk in the Park

sea-of-cortez-mexico

Three days a week, I take an early morning walk to a park near the beach, not far from my apartment. I sit in the cool morning air and listen to the birds rustle and sing in the trees above the park bench. I like to arrive a little early, before my first client of the day arrives to meet me.

This is Latin America, so even though our appointment is at 7.00 a.m., she usually doesn’t arrive until about 7.10 a.m. She is a single mother, working full time and studying for her undergraduate degree. I admire her resolve to make a better life for herself and her children. And, I get to be a part of that.

She’s a secretary at the local marina. I know she can’t make much money, so the fact that she is willing to spend part of her income on developing skills I already have says a lot about how important it is to her success.

We spend our hour reviewing how to greet cruisers when they arrive at the marina… “How many meters is your boat?” “How long do you plan to stay?” “Do you need fuel?” She struggles in places and is always much harder on herself than I ever would be…as all my students are. We wrap up the lesson and agree on what we will cover in two days’ time.

It is just a little after 8.00 a.m. and the day is still young. It’s the perfect time to take a swim; the beach is still somewhat desolate and quiet. Living in southern Mexico means the water is always warm, no matter what time of day you arrive, but it’s particularly refreshing in the morning when the air is still cool.

After my swim, I walk back to my apartment to relax before my next appointment at noon. Then I turn around and walk back to the same park to have lunch with a local lawyer who also wants to improve his skills. We just chat about current events.

Siesta in Mexico is usually from 1.00 p.m. to 3.00 p.m. My lawyer client takes his lunch early, so I can squeeze in two more appointments during lunch with local business professionals. One owns a restaurant and the other runs a small retail store. Both are interested in boosting revenue for their business and I’m here to help them.

In the evening, I meet with three clients who are eager to improve their career prospects. They are all young people, working in local hotels. They have already figured out that better skills will mean moving up from bellboy to concierge to management. They are driven and inspired.

All my clients appreciate that I have the skills they need to acquire and I find their admiration gratifying, but more gratifying to me is how much I have learned about their culture through our daily interaction. I don’t know of another job that would allow me so much free time to relax and enjoy myself, teach me the social mores of my new country, and help me pay the bills at the same time.

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