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Stupid Gringo Tattoo

I walk into my local hole-in-the-wall also know as a Tienda. I’ve got the munchies and I’ve decided to have a little mid-afternoon snack. I know just what I want, walk straight over and pick up a small package of Cremax de Nieve sabor a chocolate – that is chocolate flavored creme wafer bars. I [...]

I walk into my local hole-in-the-wall also know as a Tienda. I’ve got the munchies and I’ve decided to have a little mid-afternoon snack. I know just what I want, walk straight over and pick up a small package of Cremax de Nieve sabor a chocolate – that is chocolate flavored creme wafer bars.

I lay the package on the counter and try to hand the guy five quetzales. I know how much they are. This is not my first Cremax attack and I bought the last package here just two nights ago. The guy just looks at me. “Siete quetzales”, he says. (Seven quetzales.)

“¿Cuánto?”, I reply. (How much?) Thinking there is obviously some mis-communication here somewhere and it ain’t on my part.

He hits a number on his calculator and turns it around so I can see it. This is the favored way for storekeepers here to communicate prices with ignorant Gringos who can’t count. Yeap, that’s a seven alright.

“Cinco última hora,” I say. (It was five last time.)

“No, No!” He says. “Siete quetzales”.

“Ningún turista gringo,” I say. Roughly translated, that means I didn’t just get off the boat yesterday. I took my money and walked out.

I would like to say this is an isolated incident, but it isn’t. It has happened several times since I’ve been here and I’ve heard other people tell essentially the same story.

Basically, storekeepers here, in a lot of cases, will charge you whatever they think they can get away with. The prices are never marked. I’ve only seen one scanner in one store here and most of the time it doesn’t work.

After the above incident, I went down to the store with the scanner and got the exact same thing and took it to the counter. The woman scanned it five or six times and never could get a price. Then she started entering numbers. I figured then I was screwed. Finally, she asked me to hand her a different package of the same product. I did. She scanned it several times without success.

Again, she entered numbers into the machine. Finally she said – without blinking an eyelash – “Cuarenta y cinco quetzales.”

I just stared in disbelief. That is forty-five Q. Forty-five Q is roughly $5.75; for a small package of creme wafer bars! I can get one of the best meals in town for forty-five Q! The only thing I can figure is someone must have tattooed “Stupid Gringo” on my forehead while I was having my siesta.

Do I have to say it? I didn’t get my afternoon snack. It is definitely time to say “Adios” to San Pedro. On Monday morning, bright and early, I’ll be on my way to Mexico. Before Monday though, I have got to do something about this tattoo…

Filed under: Guatemala, Travel Problems

About the Author:

Gar Williams liquidated his former life, sold all his possessions that wouldn’t fit into a 46 liter backpack, and left it all behind at age 63. He is now traveling the world, and, in his words, is finally doing what he wants to do. Gar stops by at VagabondJourney.com from time to time to offer his wisdom and advice on the Senior Vagabond series. has written 65 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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Gar Williams is currently in: Ecuador

10 comments… add one

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  • robsbook January 14, 2012, 3:34 pm

    Excellent post, Gar – you have a real knack for story telling. Keep it up, and safe travels to Mexico.

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    • Gar January 14, 2012, 4:13 pm

      Thanks Rob, I’m not sure there is any “safe” way to travel by shuttle bus here. I’ve found the best thing to do is take a book, read and try to pretend I’m somewhere else.

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      • Carolyn January 14, 2012, 4:20 pm

        Be careful on your next leg of the journey. You didn’t really get a tatoo did you?

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  • Rob January 14, 2012, 4:31 pm

    Gawd Mate!!!

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    • Gar January 14, 2012, 4:41 pm

      Howdy Rob, thanks for stopping bye.

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  • Sis January 14, 2012, 4:40 pm

    Sounds like an interesting trip when I was in Spain I use to love to haggle with shop keepers. lol

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  • Sis January 14, 2012, 4:41 pm

    Oh I forgot what part of mexico are you going to ??

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    • Gar January 14, 2012, 4:42 pm

      Hi,
      I’m going to San Cristobal first, then up the Caribbean Coast – maybe.

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  • Eva Hamori January 15, 2012, 12:27 am

    Great post Gar! Made me smile. I hope you get your chocolate wafer bar soon!

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    • Gar January 15, 2012, 10:25 am

      Hello Eva, I think I’ll wait until I get to Mexico before I try again.

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