You’ve Got Mail.

April 7, 2013

[Must remember these moments when I am back in the States.]

I trudged up the ramp, crossing my fingers that the box from my mom was awaiting me in the post office. Paraguay does not have a national postal system, so all post offices are individual, private businesses. Therefore both incoming and outgoing mail deliveries are unpredictable and certainly not prompt. I know these discrepancies well by now, but the excitement of packages often has me optimistically hoping against instinct anyway.

As I approached the tiny office, I could see through the tinted glass that a large ladder was blocking the door. My heart immediately sank thinking they had closed spontaneously for maintenance as businesses are apt do, regardless of working hours, in Paraguay. I did not give up all hope though as I observed an employee at the counter. Unsure if the office was open, I hesitated at the door and made inquiring gestures at the lady. She shrugged her shoulders unapologetically and halfheartedly waved me in.

I slowly pushed in the door until it was flush against the ladder. There was an exceedingly small gap, and I dubiously considered entering. But the tantalizing promise of brand-new (and much needed) v-neck t-shirts and jars of Cookie Butter (also much needed?) were enough to spur me forward. I inhaled sharply, sucked in my stomach, and proceeded to clumsily cram myself into a space more adequately suited for newborn babies. Singular.

The counter jammed into my hip and my bulky shoulder bag did not help the situation. Still, those were small inconveniences compared to the moment when I noticed the wet, brown splotches on the counter. Perplexed and disconcerted, I dared myself to glance up. Immediately over my head, perched on the ladder, was a maintenance man fiddling with a half assembled air conditioning unit that was dripping the muddy goo I was now also trying to evade in my already tight niche.

Side note: in Paraguay, for every guy on a ladder, there is sure to be another ‘earning’ a day’s wage by holding the base of the ladder secure. Except most of the time, that individual is more about nap time than vigilance.

As was the case with this particular dude as well. His arm dangled casually over a middle rung as if were the resulting dead weight that occurs when one is fast asleep. Were an accident to happen, the personage on top would surely have died, and this one on the bottom left undoubtedly sans appendage and then some.

Add his creepy, close-range leering to the cubbyhole mix. He sure had some serious x-ray vision for someone who was half asleep.

I nervously and rather impatiently waited for the mail lady to check on the arrival of a package (yay! it came) and then to of course take her sweet time gathering the paperwork necessary to release the box to me. An eternity passed before I could hastily scrawl out a signature and make off with my treasure to a safe haven free of raining poop and predators.

It took a few attempts to wrangle my way out of that otherworldly vortex newly armed with a large box. I felt like those birds that mistakenly fly into houses and then proceed to slam into the glass windows repeatedly before they discover a more effective strategy to escaping. Eventually, I was liberated.

Then they moved the ladder.



One Response to “You’ve Got Mail.”

  1. As a Peace Corps volunteer in Paraguay, I recall fondly (hmmm, is that the right word?) the anticipation of a package coming… would it arrive, and if it arrived, would it have everything in it that was supposed to be in it? About a fourth of my packages never made it to me. Another fifth of my packages had been opened, something taken out (peanut butter or magazines or some other trivial item) and the rest made it in tact.

    Thanks for a fun post!

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