On Thursday, I decided I need to get some clothes washed. I knew there were a couple of spots that did laundry down by docks in Gringo land. As I was walking out of town, this older Mayan woman approached me and asks did I need my clothes washed. I thought about it for a second and said yeah, how much. “25Q”. This price was cheaper then I would get in town, it was about $2.50 in USD and I admired her hustle. We walked a little way to this store, gave her my clothes and she told me it would be ready around 11 or 12 tomorrow. I gave her 30Q because I didn’t have any change and she promised to give me my change the next day. As I walked off I begin to think “Hmmm, who is this woman I just handed my clothes to, maybe I should have gotten a name.
The next day while on break I mention to Stacey (another student) how I needed to pick up my clothes, she remarked about how trusting I was. Suddenly I begin to think about the possibility of this woman stealing my clothes. I asked my Spanish instructor to accompany me to get my clothes, since it was around 11am- the time she said my clothes would be ready and the store was very close to the school. When we arrived at the place where I gave her my clothes, there was another older lady working in the store. I asked her were my clothes ready and she gave me a black stare. My instructor again asked her about my clothes and she told him there were no clothes there. She had no idea what I was talking about. My instructor being male and thinking that women have no sense of direction kept asking me was I sure this was the right place. At this point I begin to become very frustrated with him and repeated over and over “Si, Aqui” (Yes, here). We begin to walk further up the street where I first meet the lady. We return to the store to talk to the lady, because at this point I was convinced that the old ladies were both in on this plot to steal my clothes. I asked her once again did she know who else could have my clothes. She mentions that there was a lady that lived in a house in an alley behind the store and maybe she had my clothes.
As my teacher and I begin walking down this alley I begin to think about what I would do if I could not find my clothes. Counting how many pairs of pant and underwear was in my room, while also cursing all the old ladies in Guatemala. When found the house, my teacher knocked on the door and as we waited for an answer I saw my white and pink polka dot underwear on this woman’s roof. I had never been so happy to see my underwear before. When she opened the door I saw the rest of my clothes hung on random places to dry. She told me the clothes were not ready yet and we discuss a time for me to pick them up later. As she and my instructor spoke in their native Mayan language she seem so surprised that I didn’t know where to come and get my clothes. As we were leaving and passing by the store, the other old lady told my instructor in Mayan that the woman who had my clothes was lazy and the next time I should bring my clothes to her. When I did return later I didn’t even ask her for the 5Q she owed me, I was just so happy to get my clothes back. Of course, when I return home I discovered that my bag was missing and I had to return once again to retrieve it. She said the wind blew it away.
The moral of this story is- Do not give your clothes to random ladies walking down the street in the middle of San Pedro, Guatemala…or anywhere else for that matter. I did kind of feel sorry for the lady, it looked like she was the caretaker for about 4 grandchildren and she was really sweet.