Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Hora Chapina, Hora Chapona

Over the past few weeks five times I have made arrangements with locals to meet at my house and on each occasion they have failed to show up. I might add that the assignations in question were generally a good deal more in their interest than in mine. 

Is there ever any attempt to communicate an excuse, an apology etc? No. 

Sometimes the offending party tries to put in an appearance at an alternative time and date of their own choosing, still without warning or cover story. I have now decided never to open the door in such circumstances, not in the vain hope of thereby providing an education in civilised manners, but in rather more punitive determination.  

It is for this reason that one individual in our neighbourhood has become a constant source of wonder. She carries a watch and examines it with the old-fashioned assiduousness of the white rabbit in Wonderland, though without his propensity for punctuality fails. And deep though we are in the dry season, she is also never without her flowery umbrella – signs of a preternatural preparedness quite anomalous in these parts. 

Having offered to produce for us, twice weekly, tortillas of black and yellow corn in the traditional manner, each time she has come to deliver them almost exactly five minutes in advance of the agreed time. And when I emerge, regards me as if I have kept her waiting an eternity. 

It is for this reason we have started to have our doubts as to whether she is Guatemalan at all. She has the slightly off-putting appearance of a steely-eyed, middle-aged man in an elaborate draggy disguise, complete with heavy, oversized, bloke's shoes, and for that reason we long ago gave her the nickname of 'El Chapo'. 

Her skin is almost deathly pale and her accent is hard to place in a Chapin context, though there are rumours that she and her brood hail from Amatitlán or thereabouts. The truth is that she appeared one day out of nowhere, and yet, hoy en día, there is seemingly no-one better informed about behind-closed-doors activities in the district.  


Miss Trudy said...

Goodness, a Guatemalan who appears AHEAD of time? Something is wrong with her! I usually calculate that when workers say "tomorrow" it tends to be 3 or 4 days later than that. So if particularly pissed I might do what you do, not open the door when they arrive but if I really need whatever it is they are going to do, just bite the bullet and go with the flow of Guatemalan time. They don't feel punished when one does that, you know? It is more like, "oh well! On to the next thing" for them, for they are also used to other people not being punctual, or not being there or whatever. Everything schedule-related is kind of, "veremos". Guests are like that as well. I ask them to be here at a certain time, preparing everything for 45 mins to an hour later. Unless they are expats, like me! They do tend to be on time and by now, it feels weird.

Inner Diablog said...

My father is obsessively punctual, which even he recognises as a sort of sickness. We always used to get to airports etc ridiculously early and even now at 85 he frets if it looks like he will show up 5 mins late at a restaurant he has pre-booked. Generally one of the pleasures of living here is not having to worry so much about time, though the other day I was out to lunch and started to feel the pressure of the knowledge that the lady mentioned in this blog post had agreed to meet me at the house around 4pm and would be there checking her watch at 15:55 on the dot!