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.
Get a few drinks into a Latino and he turns into a philosopher and a poet. Of course, after a few more, he turns into an emotional wreck, and/or a really annoying drunk. Sometimes it is a fine line. We celebrated New Years Eve in a small, dark, crowded gringo bar Antigua, Guatemala. Having just come more or less directly from Southeast Asia, still dealing with jet lag, for once we felt pretty confidant we would still be wide awake at midnight. The bar was packed mostly with fellow travelers and bohemian expats. There were a few cosmopolitan Guatemalans and … Continue reading →
A couple of weeks before the end of our trip–we’re home now–my laptop died. No screeching, or scratching, or warning of any kind. It just died in its sleep. I’ll admit to being more attached to my laptop than most, so I felt like I had lost a good friend. (Is it a Mac thing?) But in practical terms what I lost was a couple months of emails and photos, and the ability to update this blog. That is bad enough, but at least I had a backup on an external drive at home. So that is what I am … Continue reading →
Virtually every event in Guatemala is celebrated with fireworks–mostly noise makers. And Christmas is the biggest celebration of the year. Whatever Christmas bells there may have been were drowned out, but our ears are still ringing. We left the lake a week or so ago to spend Christmas with the family of my godchildren in the highland city of Quetzaltenango. Though it is Guatemala’s second largest city, it feels relatively sane and safe…except at Christmas. In the days leading up to Christmas we had roamed the streets of the city, past gaudy decorations, sparkly christmas trees, inflated reindeer, and sidewalk … Continue reading →
We arrived in Guatemala after a long but uneventful trip. The flights were bilingual all the way–on the first two legs Air Canada announced everything in both English and French. We got a TACA flight out of L.A., and everything was in English and Spanish. Not very good English, either. We were two of just a handful of gringos on board and even the flight crew spoke English only reluctantly. I am happy to report that we sailed through security with only cursory inspections. The closest either of us came to one of those dreaded TSA pat-downs is when I … Continue reading →