This blog was inspired by my banking experience just this morning...
Going to the bank in Guatemala is a test in patience. And humility. And forgiveness. And more patience.
Any time you need to go to the bank here, you should dedicate at least 30-40 minutes, and God forbid you happen to go at the end of the month when people are picking up paychecks -- in this case, you should allow at least 1 hour (and avoid it at ALL costs).
First, you enter past the machine-gun armed guard- Normal. There is one line, so you get into it, seeing no other option. After waiting for about 20+ minutes, you get to the front of the line. Hurrah! Not so fast- you are more than likely told that you aren´t in the right place. Looking around, you might think ¨Where else could I possibly be?¨ When the teller will point you toward a teeny tiny desk in the corner that probably has no one sitting in it, but surely they´ll ¨be right back.¨ So you go wait at that other desk, assured that you can skip back to the front of the line once you´re helped there.
So once the desk person returns and gives you the tiny little form (or sometimes just a small piece of scratch paper with a surely-not-arbitrary number on it) that you ´need´ for your transaction, you can skip back to the front of the line (which always goes over well with the people waiting and watching the huge white girl cut to the front).
Once you´re at the front with all necessary components, you will definitely be helped on a very personal and individual level through a Guatemalan-height glass window (which is thick and tall, so you are very unlikely to be able to hear what the person on the other end is saying, because the crack in it is probably at your chest-level) Translation: This person gets paid the same amount whether they help 1 person per hour or 20 people... So they are in no rush. Hope you´re not either.
After an undoubtedly fumbled conversation due to confusion and frustration, you will [most likely] have fulfilled your banking needs... Though probably slightly worse for ware, and definitely with no lollypop reward at the end.
The good part: most banks are air-conditioned.
The bad part: They will probably suck out your soul if you spend too much time in them.
Thanks for chances to grow patience and for the fact that I have enough money to put in a bank, God!