We're off again next week to what my cousin amusingly calls Bandit Country. This is a usefully non-specific term, both geographically and politically, yet we were reminded earlier this week that Bandit Country has its own global network of embassies and consulates. (And vocab, as you will see.)
Although it clearly states on their website that Guatemalan nationals will not have to pay any consular fees when obtaining their red tourist cards at the Mexican Consulate in London, the fact that V had neglected to bring along her marriage certificate made her eligible to make a small contribution to the diplomatic corps of the Estados Unidos Mexicanos . (Mordida: bite, petty bribe usually paid to equally petty officials and policemen.)
The instructions didn't say anything about needing to be married and she was carrying proof of independent financial means - maybe that was what provoked these transactional urges.
In fairness the officials at the Guatemalan Embassy have never clamped their jaws around us in quite this manner, but over the years we've noticed how most of them appear to have had their diplomatic positions tossed at them by their owners. (Hueso: bone, position acquired through political clientism.) When you discover that these individuals are usually all card carrying members of the parties that did not win the general election, you learn something new and interesting about Bandit Country politics. (Talking of parties, they throw pretty good ones.)
(Requisitos: requirements.) "Requisitos son Requisitos" - requirements are requirements, the mantra of the boneyard which contains an ironic reference to absent symmetry: however hard you try you always have one less requisito than the person you are dealing with ultimately requires. This is the principle perk of the hueso, leading inevitably to mordidas.
The Bandit Country social contract states that everyone has to fleece everyone else , even when it is patently not in their rational best interests to do so. The Peace Corps should be sending over game theorists not anthropologists.
No nation has a fixed moral character (because remarkably few individuals do) but likemindedness emerges at a family, tribal or national level - which is why for example we can compare the queue-forming customs of the French and the British. Sure there must be the odd Frenchman that knows how to participate in the formation of an orderly queue, but these are bell-curved phenomenona.