You probably didn't know that tiny Ecuador is the world's leading exporter of bananas.
The same is not true of "mananas", however. Most if not all of them are needed right here at home to be freely handed out each time the simple question "When?" is asked. I've explained previously how this word can mean any time, including never.
Whenever "es posible" precedes manana, a whole different level of obscurity is in play. "It's possible" is so filled with hope, isn't it? Well, the local person uttering this phrase is full of something, all right, but I wouldn't put hope at the top of the list.
The Eddsaid translation of "es posible," gleaned from numerous conversations and the observation of their aftermath, is "I have absolutely no idea." So when someone tells you "es posible manana," basically you're screwed.
But here's the interesting thing. It's not intended that way at all.
For example, after almost a month and a half we're STILL not in our permanent residence that was "promised" to us July 1. Almost without fail whenever we chat with our friends and relatives in the States the first topic of conversation is, "So when are you moving into your new apartment?." This is a normal and natural question coming from a culture where there is a premium on timeliness and where there are penalties for nonperformance.
After being away from the US only a few months we've come to realize how much Americans live in the future. Everyone is stressed out and hurrying through the day with too much to do; TGIF; "If I can just accumulate this much money/get that promotion/go away for a few days and relax-----." Wayne Dyer calls this mindset "striving but never arriving."
Here the focus is on enjoying today. Many businesses literally close from 1-3 and employees go home to have lunch with their families. People are not complacent or lazy; they're simply not willing to sacrifice enjoyment of daily life to the relentless pursuit of material gain.
So "es posible" and "manana" are examples of polite and accepted acknowledgment that in truth nobody has an exact idea of when things will happen--or cares too much.
You, as the recipient of such a message, truly have zero power. What are you going to do? Threaten to take your business elsewhere? Good luck with that strategy. Toto, we're not in Kansas any more. That's just not the way it works here.
Some of the tiny old neighborhood grocery stores have a sign posted that says, "We cannot extend credit today, but we can tomorrow so please come back then." Think about the metaphysical brilliance of this message.
Cynthia and I find ourselves caught in a sort of purgatory between a lifetime of conditioning to expect a certain level of service and a growing understanding that here the attitude is "it's not business--it's personal." Away from the (often self-imposed) pressure created by over-scheduling and under-enjoying, we're quickly embracing our new slogan of "por que no"---why not??
Exactly when are we moving into that apartment? Es posible manana.