International Kimberly Clark Rectangle Toilet Paper Conspiracy

TheEnemy.JPG Rebecca's father once asked of my coffee, "Is this for drinking or do you need to clean a crank case?" Which brings me to this morning. As I sit, I realize that yet another of my employing institutions has replaced the standard TP roll with this stack-of-squares innovation from Kimberly Clark. I noticed this at my client in Washington DC, and now I see it is present even in Guatemala City. First I'm reminded of the times when the roll was out and I had to reach for the Kleenex. That brings a warm memory because of how soft and... Reality returns: this stuff is as thin as it's cheapest traditional alternative, but pre-divided into 4x8 inch rectangles. What, did you think we'd use just one? Two? Do you really think this is tricking us somehow into using less paper per pilgrimage? It makes me so angry that every time I am forced to use these, I take between 45 and 200 squares before declaring "mission accomplished". Get up, stand up.. Don't give up the fight. Bankrupt the bathroom budget of any baño that tries to quantize your personal cleanliness. Then forgive my cheeky alliteration.

The Guatemalan Way

About once a week, Rebecca and I look at each other and say, "Only in Guatemala." Here are some of those times: 1. Our copy service is outsourced. This means, for anything we want to copy, we need to fill out a half-page copy-request form and have it signed by a principal. If the form has an error (e.g. you accidentally write that you want 20 copies, you mark it out and write 21), then you need an entirely new form, new principal signature. When there are no more copy request forms in the form bin, you need to fill out a copy-request form to copy the copy-request forms. TPS report, anyone? 2. Yesterday we were in Pricesmart, a membership shopping/"buy in bulk" store similar to Sams Club or Costco. Just like in the US, they had some women with too much makeup standing behind tables and offering samples of food and drink in tiny cups. Not bourbon chicken, not cocktail weenies, not organic apple cider... Yesterday they were featuring samples of Slim-Fast. 3. Found in Guatemala: Jimmy Johns, sushi restraunts, baseball and apple pie, biometric hand scanner for entrance to the mid-tier health club, malls and airports have no less than 6 52" plasma screens each. 4. Not Found in Guatemala: Miracle Whip, flavored coffe creamer, tampons, the equivalent of a Walmart, capable traffic police. These lists will be updated.

Some Main Differences

I'm ready for the first wave of observations.
  • Guatemalans speak excellent spanish, clear and slang free. It's a great place to learn. Overal people are extremely friendly.
  • A 512 Kbps (Frac T1 on fiber, 1/3 of a DSL connection) dedicated connection to the internet costs the school USD $1000 per month.
  • Using my laptop to connect to the internet (about 300 Kbps) at an internet cafe cost Q8/hour (about USD $1/hour).
  • A few months ago in Chicago, I saw that my roommate's girlfriend Maria bought some hand woven placemats at Pottery Barn in Chicago. She must've paid about $10 per. The tag said they were made in Guatemala. We found the same ones at the central market - high quality, beautiful... $1 each.
  • Except in very modern buildings, every bathroom has a little waste bin right next to the toilet. This is for your used toilet paper because it will clog the plumbing otherwise. Most toilet paper is scented so the smell is not so bad. Yes, our apartment complex is a 'very modern building'.

Pimp Ride

1996 Blue/Purple Dodge Neon. 132 BHP Custom air filter Female member of owner partnership forced castration of obscenely loud muffler Speedometer non-functional Recently replaced entire sound system (the one working - but ripped - speaker.) Trim:
Aftermarket steering wheel cover Chrome/faux rivet Gas door decal Extremely dark tints Drilled aluminum brake and accelerator pedals Seatbelt covers, printed with "RACING" Chrome windshield wipers Small purple strobe light

The View

We took a trip to the top floor of our building. Jeff apparently needed to test-fly a paper airplane from 12th floor down the long hollow center of our building. After that, we found the door to our roof unlocked - check out our views. Guatemala City is in a basin, and there are no really big skyscrapers so you can see for miles. The volcanoes were covered by clouds, but you can see the airport, forest, soccer field, and some other apartment complexes. SantoriniAmericas.JPGSantoriniAmericas2.JPGSantoriniAmericas3.JPGSantoriniAmericas4.JPG

Old Man Futbol

Tried playing a real soccer game for the first time in eight years (since junior year of high school). The 58 year old Guatemalan I was matched up against most of the game schooled me again and again. Of course, Abel scored at will. Soccer.JPG


My Holy Terror student came running to me complaining, "Me pica, me pica..." which roughly translated as "Ouch - my vagina - it's burning." I'm not a doctor, but it could be due to the nachos she was rubbing on it earlier.

Cute Kid

Sean.JPG I am known for my accurate and uncompromising nicknaming of my students. Meet "The Leprechaun", Sean Patrick O'Malley Martinez. So far this year we also have Space Face, Holy Terror, and Peanut Head.