Things that make you say Hmm…

Or maybe they only make me say hmm. Anyway, here’s some random thoughts about life here vs what we are used to.

CUSTOMER SERVICE
Some of the guidebooks I’ve read say that Belize today is like America in the 1950s or 1960s. When it comes to the old notions of customer service, that’s definitely correct, and it’s refreshing, although it takes getting used to with the DIY mindset of most Americans now.

For instance, a fill-up at theuno guy gas station is still done by attendants – uniformed, and they wash your windows, too (thanks for the pic, UNO Facebook page).

Ditto baggers in the grocery markets – they don’t ask, it’s just a given that they’ll take stuff to your car – and they don’t expect a tip.

cintysBut I have to say that even in a country where good manners are the norm, the customer service at Cinty’s Hardware (also known as Phillip Batty & Sons) in Corozal is a pretty amazing thing.

I have wanted to take a picture inside of this store since we got here, but haven’t worked up the nerve to look like such a gringo. It’s also pretty dark in there so I’d definitely have to use a flash, which would up my Stupid Gringo ratio significantly.

Just suffice it to say – Cinty’s probably has everything you might ever want or need for your house – from chicken wire to power tools to plastic buckets to automotive fluids and many, many things in between. And no space is wasted: Every nook and cranny, every shelf and rack, every single square inch of floor space and wall space is chock full of items for sale.

That’s impressive, but what’s really impressive is that someone who works in the store – actually, often ANYone who works in the store – knows exactly where to find whatever it is you ask for. When you come in, an employee typically tails you in a discreet way, to be available to go off in search of your items. They’ll wait patiently as you browse but when you get tired of looking and finally ask for something, they’ll beeline right to it, no matter where in the hell they have to go to find it, and add it to your collection at the register.

Very quickly, you realize it’s a lot easier to ask them than to look for things yourself – assuming, anyway, that you know what you want or need. If you don’t, you could very easily spend all day finding tons of things you didn’t think you needed or wanted, but now you do. Because Cinty’s will probably have them. Somewhere.

POLITICS
I’m apolitical and have no opinion about any of this, but we’ve heard some interesting tidbits about Belizean politics lately.

There’s two parties (UDP – United Democratic Party and PUP – People’s United Party), which are commonly referred to as red and blue, though I don’t know which is supposed to be which. Supposedly voting is democratic, though there are lines labeled RED and BLUE that you must stand in in order to vote, and – qualifier: this is complete hearsay – you can be told by your Belizean employer which way to vote, and if you choose otherwise, you’ll get a pink slip for your troubles the following day.

Also voting tends to be by family bloc, which might include 50-75 people in a single village; so – again, hearsay – some politicians have been known to offer “incentives” such as college tuition and new cars and appliances.

This part, though, isn’t hearsay: When one party is in power, they typically un-do whatever the other party did previously. (Hmm. Does that sound familiar?) Here’s two instances we know of: One party had installed a bilge pump for the New River ferry but the other party now rules so it can’t be used (and the ferry is listing pretty severely at the moment, it could really use it). Also, we could have mainstream Internet access at this house, as we had in Cerros, because all the technology and access for it has been installed in Progresso Village; but the now-ruling party didn’t put it in, so again it can’t be used. Which means we only have dongle or mifi access here. 😦

Oh well – politics is politics, wherever you go…

APPLIANCES
Mabe_de_México
I don’t find it encouraging that many of the appliances here are of the Mexican brand “Mabe”. So is that maybe they’ll work, maybe they won’t? Hmm. Just kidding – they work fine. Usually. No, just kidding. They do.

NEWS REPORTING
Strangely enough for a news junkie like me, I haven’t paid much attention to the US or national news for the last two months. These days Facebook counts as “the news” more often than NBC (though I do check in with Brian Williams some evenings just because I like him).

Every once in a while, though, I get pulled in by a local headline, especially on Que Pasa Corozal? (a FB page that strikes me as sort of the FOX News of this area). From a purely journalistic stance, I wonder what’s their rationale for using exclamation points in headlines, as in these recent posts:

BTL Services Currently Down in Corozal!
Lisa’s Fast Food Robbed Yet Again!
Investigation on Escuela Mexico Students Drowning Still Ongoing!

Because it doesn’t always happen – the following posts were apparently of a more serious, less excitable tone:

Tow Head Truck Over Turns in Louisville
Two Sisters Knocked Off Their Bicycle While Heading Home
Ministry of Works Completely Forgot about the Ferry Road

Yeah, I don’t know what a tow head truck is either, and okay, all right, it’s probably just a matter of different editing styles. What can I say, my enquiring mind is always enquiring…so let’s end this with one more burning question.

WHERE DO RAV4s GO TO DIE?
A: Belize. There are many old American-made vehicles down here, but by far, we’ve seen the most RAV4s. No idea why. Hmm.

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3 thoughts on “Things that make you say Hmm…

  1. Nancy Rehwoldt says:

    Where exactly are you now? Corozal?

  2. […] mentioned previously (here), the Progresso area has a similar infrastructure – and wonder of wonders, we can have […]

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