I just spent the ENTIRE afternoon (4.5 hours) looking for a stupid umbrella to buy in San Cristóbal. In a rainy city of thousands of unprepared tourists where heavy showers can occur at any moment, where streets become fluvial rivers of torrential rain, for some reason stores don’t sell umbrellas. And local don’t know where to buy umbrellas.

You know….if we were in Asia…the minute it rains there would be umbrella vendors on every corner coming to you asking if you needed one. In your favorite color and print. In fact, there would be vendors in sunny weather too, selling parasols to block the sun. And it’s not for lack of imports here too, because there are a trillion things imported, including umbrellas which I finally found after much walking.

Not Very Entrepreneurial. You know, I’m starting to see why Chiapanecos are poor. Today I had lunch with some co-workers in the workshop, and discovered that the ultimate reason why we don’t open on Saturday afternoons and Sundays–the absolute peak time for clients–is because nobody wants to come in during those hours. Better to work Monday through Wednesday with nobody knocking on the door, than the precious peak hours. Is this a Spanish-colony thing? The whole discipline of “great service” and “convenience for the customer” might be missing.

I also discovered that, in a city where cobble-stone streets change names and numbers almost randomly, none of the hotels (except Holiday Inn, bless their soul) have ready maps for tourists who then end up getting lost and confused around the center because they are only here for 2-3 days.

So making the best of it…. since Taller Leñateros is a printing and paper-making center…Maki and I have become instant cartographers and we are working on an artistic rendition of a map of the city with a focus on the workshop.

“It was dark as I drove the point home.” – Piers Cameron

José Luis y José Pablo

José Luis y José Pablo con mi iPod

Spanish Words of the Day: retrasado” delayed | “destacado” outstanding | “desriñonarse” to strain one’s back