El Cartero: The Postman of Antigua Guatemala (2012)

Mr. Mail Man by Rudy Giron

Finally Guatemala’s postal service is moving forward into to recent past, yes, believe it or not only four months ago a bar code scanner was implemented in Antigua Guatemala. Which means now Il Postino, El Cartero in Spanish, can scan the correspondence bar codes right before the delivery and his GPS location, time and date are registered on his scanner, which later on, perhaps at the end of the day, is connected to a computer and the information downloaded. Okay, that should put Guatemala’s postal service somewhere in the 90s, right? In some cases we take baby steps, but as long as we’re moving forward, that’s good.

Literary over-sharing aside: Back in the 90s I was introduced to Charles Bukowski, one of the few authors I have read extensively (that means I read every single book I could get my hands on). I could say Charles Bukowski’s writings saved me from myself. Even after so many years, I still hold dear all those readings, especially Post Office, Bukowski’s first novel about the down-and-out barfly Henry Chinaski who becomes a substitute mail carrier; he quits for a while and lives on his winnings at the track, then becomes a mail clerk. The work is menial, boring and degrading. Our hero survives through booze and women, combined with an extremely cynical view of the world. Somehow, looking at el cartero above, whom I have known for many years now, I can not see Bukowski’s down-and-out barfly postman. I believe our cartero is closer to the postman in the fabulous film Il Postino. Perhaps, most people in Guatemala have other preoccupations, like survival, which inhibit existentialist suffering and anguish; I don’t know, what do you think?

© 2012, Rudy Giron. All rights reserved.

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  • El Canche

    Thanks for sharing the Bukowski view on life….which I don’t share. There is dignity in all work and those who believe a postman’s job to be degrading probably have an overworked self-esteem. I say congrats to the technified Antigua Postini as he moves into the 21st century!
    Westerners have dangerously high levels of expectation and sense of entitlement. Let’s see what happens when it a;ll comes tumbling down!?

    • Hola Canche, I believe the reason you don’t see it is because there are cultural differences between the U.S. and U.K. and the rest of the world for the matter. Have you heard the expression ‘going postal,’ well, exists for a reason, either as a cliché or as myth.

  • NYChapin

    One can not become a saint when one works sixteen hours a day.
    Jean-Paul Sartre

    • You know NYChapin, I ought to read more of Sartre. I will put him on my reading list, any book that you recommend?

  • NYChapin

    Hi Rudy, my girlfriend is the expert on French Literature and she recommends Nausea ( I have not been able to finish it) or The Flies, for a short read. I had to read his essay on Colonialism for school.

    • Hi NYChapin, funny that you mention French literature because I have waiting on my iPad Michel Houellebecq’s “The Map And The Territory” and “Public Enemies” by Bernard-Henri Lévy and Michel Houellebecq. So I will get into French literature sometime soon. I will put Nausea on my reading list as well. Thanks!