Sometimes bad things turn good. Guatemala’s postal service is so slow, expensive and unreliable that in Guatemala the concept of junk mail is non-existent. El Correo, Guatemala’s postal service, is a Canadian private company with the support of the Canadian Postal Service. El Correo is the result of the infamous recipe
prescribed forced onto poor countries: Privatize everything! For better or worse that’s what we got.
El Correo is slow: to receive our telephone invoices printed and mailed in Guatemala City (La Nueva Guatemala) to our P.O. Box in the postal office of El Correo in La Antigua Guatemala can take up to three weeks or more.
El Correo is expensive: to mail a Revue magazine (about the size of the Readers’ Digest) to the U.S. or Canada can cost about Q70/US$9. Post cards about $1 and letters depends on the weight.
El Correo is unreliable: Once I sent myself some post cards from the postal office to our house, which is about 2 miles away, and they never arrived. El cartero, the postman, only delivers once a week or once every two weeks in the communities surrounding La Antigua Guatemala. Because of this we have now a post office box.
But, we get no junk mail. That alone is a fortune. Furthermore, El Correo is reliable for sending and receiving mail and post cards from abroad as long as you have a P.O. Box; even if it is expensive and slow. To send a letter to the U.S. or Canada can take up to three weeks; almost the same time it takes for the invoice mailed in GuateCity to reach La Antigua. El Correo can be inexpensive too, mostly inside Guatemala, since sending a normal letter or post card (20 grams or less) can cost only 20 centavos (Q.0.20/US$0.025). You can download their price list as a PDF file here. But please, don’t expect the tracking service to work, especially in Guatemala.
The Post Card Request Side Note: With the excuse of an experiment and that I would like to know about you and your home town I am requesting a post card from you. I would like to receive a simple hand-written note on a post card, with stamps if at all possible, showing a landmark from your city in my p.o. box. My mailing address is on the Contact the author page. Once you have mailed the post card, please come back the Contact the author page and let me know you have sent it. I will write back to you the moment I receive it and, perhaps, I will send you a hand-written post card in return (it all depends on the how many I receive and how expensive is to send it to you). Come on people, let me know you really like the work I put in this web site through a simple hand-written note on a post card. I will be waiting for your post card!
Credits: This photograph was my wife’s idea and it will appear in the Homenaje (tribute) column of Revista Recrearte in the October edition. Posdata (postscript) was written by Beatriz Zamora as a tribute to the postal service and the hand-written correspondence. It is a great read if you can understand Spanish.