There is a curious phrase in Guatemalan Spanish: fíjase que.. (FEE-heh-say kay). A sentence that begins with Fíjase que…never ends well. You know you are about to hear some disappointing news. In the three days it took for our luggage to catch up with us it was a phrase I heard several times.
It is the kind of colloquial expression that can have many meanings. However dictionary definitions–such as “note that…” or “just imagine!” –completely fail to capture how it is used in Guatemala. It can mean “Go figure”, as in “Go figure, you arrived here but your luggage didn’t. We’ll find it and send it to your hotel right away.”
Or it can imply that you are a victim of unrealistic hopes, as in “We found your luggage, but contrary to everyone’s expectations, it can’t be delivered until tomorrow, probably in the afternoon.” Or it can mean “due to circumstances beyond our control,” as in “We gave your luggage to a delivery service today, but fíjese que they are so busy delivering lost luggage it will be another day before they get to yours.”
Or it can mean “Well, this is a little awkward”, as in “Even though someone told you yesterday that your luggage was given to a delivery service, fíjese que it is still here. Would you like us to deliver it to your hotel?”
There are plenty of other variations, but you get the idea. It is a remarkably versatile expression and one I hear daily. It is no use getting upset or frustrated; resistance is futile. If there was an English equivalent I’m sure Air Canada would use it constantly.
Anyway, all that is behind us and our Guatemala/Mexico trip is back on track.