Stuff: Some of the information you just can’t do without, plus a whole lot of filler

Xela, February 1, 2010. This month’s topics:

  • Popping: Small earthquakes rock Guatemala gently.
  • Flopping: Many muggings
  • The postal service tug

thumbs-up-popppingSmall earthquakes
Just a week after Haiti suffered its 7.0-force earthquake and aftershocks not much weaker, it was harrowing to feel the shakes here in Xela. This ‘land dance’ was caused by a 5.8-level offshore quake near the border of Guatemala and El Salvador.

On one hand it makes you giddy to sense nature’s power, a key element in Guatemala’s magic pull. On the other hand, you never know when that power will take you out. Therefore, review emergency procedures, get a 1st aid kit and keep extra provisions handy. Just in case!

thumbs-down-floppingMany muggings
We hate to write about crime – and we are by no means sky-is-falling crime squawkers – but the reality is that the security situation remains bad. There has been a recent spate of muggings of people leaving banks with large sums of cash. Cops suspect that bank employees may be collaborating with criminal gangs to inform them who to rob. If you’re an extranjero, of course many assume you’re walking ATM, whether you’re loaded or not. Therefore, smart traveler, keep cash on hand to a mínimum & always carry a dummy wallet to hand over.

The Postal Service Tug
The publisher of this preeminent pub once wrote: “Things in Guatemala don’t work well, but they work.” Such is our sentiment with the postal service, with which we have grappled much lately. Take heart that you are very likely to receive Mom’s care package, whether she’s in Tokyo, Toledo or Tuebingen. The ’rub’ is that it is impossible to predict when it will arrive and how much ‘tugging’ will be required (by you) to pull it through the system.

If you’ve waited 10 days and haven’t received a notice from the post office, ask Mom (or whoever the sender) for the number on the customs form and take it to the post office on the corner of 4a Calle and 15 Avenida, Zona 1. Most likely, the package is stuck in customs, about which they typically will not inform you.

We strongly suggest that you arrive in the morning  between 9 – 11:30 a.m.  This is because the employees who can get your package out of customs take a (this is not a misprint) 3-hour lunch break, i.e noon – 3 p.m. Then the customs people in Guatemala City only work until 4:30 p.m.       Package-related services are in the office through the large wooden doors to the left. If the door is closed, they are on break. One other tip: though frustrating, this is how the system works. Treat the employees with patience and they will work to get your package out of customs in 4-5 business days. Oh, and please drop off some of Mom’s homemade cookies, OK?!

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