Every time I get in a groove and feel like I might be semi – adjusting to life here, I have a “Guate Day.” Brady and Cindy (less now than years past) will come home and say, “Guatemala got me today.” What does that mean? It might mean atrociously poor customer service. It might mean waiting in line for 2 hours for no reason. It might mean following a paper trail for a while that dead ends where you started. It might mean traffic jams because the traffic police decide to NOT allow the stoplights to do their job and stop up traffic.
So here is my most recent Guate day – Sunday.
I left for my church small group early to stop and pick something up at the mall. As I was pulling into the mall the parking attendants decided to close ALL entrances into the mall except one. So I’m stuck in a 50 car pileup for no reason. As I’m sitting there I realize that my car is overheating. Great. This happens far too often, but normally I can pull over, let it cool, add water. I blast the heat and it cools the engine enough to get me in the garage.
Great, shop and let the car cool.
The store didn’t have what I was looking for, so I proceeded to my next task – head to an ATM to grab money. The ATM didn’t spit out cash. Neither did the next one. Nor the next 4. You may or may not believe it, but at times ATM’s in Guate run out of money. I thought this was a freak occurrence where NO ATM’s had money.
So I went to buy some ice cream, naturally, and get cash back. They couldn’t give cash back.
I start freaking out. Why? Because I literally only had 3 quetzales and it costs 5Q to get out of the parking garage. I’m stuck in the mall. Great. I made my way to the information and explained my saga to the man there. He said, “you should buy something and get cash back.” At which time I started crying. The other man took pity on the poor gringa and gave me a validated ticket. Thank you.
I left the mall and continued on my way to the small group. I couldn’t find the house and called my friend, only to discover there are apparently two places in the city with exactly the same shopping centers, road names, etc. I didn’t know where she was and she didn’t know where I was. And my car started overheating again. I was so frustrated with the string of events and my car that I gave up and went home.
2 hours of failure. Guate got me.
Since then I realized that the ATM’s were NOT out of cash; in fact, my debit card had expired. User error, not country error. I also took my car in and the mechanic informed me there are several holes in the radiator. That explains a few things.
Here’s where Guate excels: new radiator parts and service – less than $200. I’ll take it.