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For a North American traveler, nothing in Guatemala is easy. There are no smooth conncections or easy tasks--everything is a process. For example: Yesterday, during morning break, I was informed that there was a telegram addressed to me in the office. Immediately, my knees went weak when I saw the envelope stamped "URGENTE." My mind was flooded with various catastrophic possibilities which would warrant a telegram such as this. I opened up the envelope with the help of some CASAS staff and realized that what looked ominous was simply a package notification. My excitement at this new prospect, not to mention my relief that nothing bad had happened, made it difficult to concentrate on spanish class for the rest of the morning.
As always, a crucial rule of travel is to always look like you know what you're doing. The "telegram" gave directions to the paquete room. I walked into a waiting room the size of my dorm room, and immediately noticed the inncorrect clock on the wall. I heard Evanescence on a Guatemalan radio station. I got in line. Three persons later, the post office worker took my passport and a photocopy of it, brushed her fingers through her hair with a look that said it was four o'clock in the afternoon and asked me to step aside while she went to retrieve the mysterious package. I assumed I would wait maybe 2-3 minutes...
I looked past the counter and saw what looked like santa's workshop gone drastically awry. Jumbles of boxes with snowman wrapping paper, boxes covered in careless duct tape, some bursting from content overflow. There was no semblance of order to the piles, and I grew more nervous as I watched the couriers search.
After 10 minutes or so, it occured to me that all of
these people were waiting for an indefinite amount of
time for a package to be brought out. Finally, the man
emerged with a shoe box wrapped in a brown grocery bag
with my name on it. Eagerly, I grabbed the box and examined
it. It was another surreal moment when I realized that
I really was in Guatemala--standing in a stuffy post
office with a fan blowing in the corner, surrounded
by boxes and mail in complete disarray. Evanescence
had been replaced with Alejandro Sanz. Never did I stand
out more as a North American. I was instructed to give
the box to the gentleman at the next window who promptly
sliced open the box and sifted through candy hearts,
trident gum, a box of cheez-its. Such suspicious items
my mom sends me. The man pointed to the return address
and asked me where Souderton was. I ignorantly replied,
"the United States," He asked,
- Elisabeth Clemmer