Refitted belts and Guatemalan police: the events of today
Every day is an adventure in Guatemala. The day started off great, but since I’ve dropped a few pounds in the last couple of weeks due to lifestyle changes, I decided to ask the construction workers at the school for a nail and hammer to make another hole for my belt. Well, they thought that was hilarious, but they quickly found what I needed, I think just to see the spectacle. So I walked over to a stack of cement blocks and proceed to gently make a new hole in my belt, with several construction workers looking on. All’s well until I try to put my belt back on and the buckle falls apart in my hands! Now I’ve got a broken belt with perfectly good holes and no buckle, and my pants are so baggy now that they will literally fall down around my ankles within 10 steps. Fortunately, the people in the Transport department are my amigos (more to come on the transport dept later on) and I asked them if I could have some rope to at least tie around my pants so they don’t fall off. This is at 7:30 a.m. and I’ve got all day to be at work. They find some rope and I proceed to tie it around me, and that seems to work (much to the amusement of yet another set of Guatemalans). The upside is that the rope was black, the same color as my pants.
The day goes on as normal, but I have to retie the rope from time to time. After I got out of work about 2 p.m. I decided to go visit this belt and shoe repair shop nearby that Victor at work had told me about (a peleteria). After much drama, I find one that will send my poor belt off to the factory and have it fixed by Saturday. But what is Benjamin to do until then…walk around with twine around his waist?? The quite resourceful motherly clerk suggested that I go look in Paiz, the grocery store in the same shopping center. They didn’t have a belt my size, not that that surprised me, as my waistline is about the same as most Guatemalans’ height : ) just kidding; the store had a belt that was just barely too short. Instead, I got two of the shortest belts and hooked them together. The belt buckles were too big to go through my belt loops, so had to start one at the back and hook it there too. I’m sure the guy that came in the bathroom thought I was doing yoga lol Anyway, the previously mentioned motherly clerk was nice enough to punch some holes in the right spots for me, so it fits right and holds my pants up, but if you see me walking around with two belt buckles in odd places for the next few days, you’ll know what happened.
Back to the transport office: I’m trying to get Guatemalan license plates for my truck, so that requires the services (well, not requires, but sure makes it a lot easier) of a tramitador, similar to the help I got on the borders of Mexico and Guatemala. So the transport office at school told me to drop off my passport and truck documents at their office and they would take care of the paperwork, which means that I did not have any identifying information for myself except for a Texas driver’s license. No big deal, I thought…it’s just for one day. Wrong.
On the way home from my belt excursion, and police truck with a few guys pulls me over, no doubt due to the Texas plates. Of course, they’re asking for something to prove I’m the owner of the truck and it’s all at the school about a half-mile away. I make some strategic phone calls, just about giving a heart attack to the HR people because I’m not carrying my passport (dumb on my part, but anyway), and someone from transport is on the way with the papers. A portly police officer starts talking about having to “infraccionar” me; in other words, pull out your wallet, buddy. I pretended not to really get what he was saying and waiting until the transport guy got there. He arrived after about 20 minutes and the police motioned him over to talk privately. After about 10 minutes of some wild gesticulations and later, low tones and mention of calling the school lawyer, the transport guy Eric brought me my passport, smiling, and said, “Have a nice day.” Apparently the mention of a lawyer and the refusal to pay fees on the street gets you out of there quickly. Good to know.
Another day in Guatemala. Lovin’ it more every day :D