19.11.05

Ah! the smell of alcohol

Les had to remind me to write this in my blog.

Two weeks ago, enroute to the capital (a three hour drive), our vans were pulled over by some roadside policemen. Usually there are about three places on this journey where cops do registration and license checks of selected vehicles. It is interesting to note that Erick, one of our compa├▒eros from Guatemala gets pulled over when driving the Toyota van about 80% of the time whereas Les, a Canadian who usually drives the Kia van, gets pulled over about 20% of the time.

On this occasion I was riding with Erick. We were carrying a van full of medical supplies that had been donated to our ministry. These were being dropped off at a needy hospital in Guatemala City before picking up a team of 19 Canadians from Ft Saint John, BC. It was a wonderful experience to see the excitement and gratitude in the faces of the doctor and nurses we met as we delivered these supplies (gloves, syringes, and the like) a couple hours later. What a privilege to deliver the gifts of others. Three policemen attended to our vehicle. One stood away from the vehicle with his semi-automatic rifle. One checked Erick's license and the van's registration (vehicles are not required to be insured here, though it is a good idea). The third came to my window and inquired about my passport.

The one checking Erick's info became quickly interested in the supplies in the back. Erick said he knew they were donations made for a hospital, but not what they were (which is true) and that if the police wanted to know what they were they could search every box. He said this with a smile of course. This policeman made a five minute cursory inspection of the old boxes. He was trying to easily find a way of "fining" us. He was unsuccessful.

The policeman at my window, after inspecting and approving of my passport photo, began to inquire at close range to my face about the supplies in the back - a sort of cross-reference as Erick was occupied outside the van with another cop. I have enough trouble understanding and speaking Spanish as it is, but when the man you're talking to is slurring his speech and smelling of homebrew... I had trouble not laughing at him, so I just vainly flipped through my pocket dictionary trying to interpret what he was saying, though for the most part I could already understand. He let it go after getting mildly frustrated with his and my inability to communicate, mostly his I am certain.

I believe I have learned a valuable lesson: Feigning ignorance is a great tool when being interrogated by an intoxicated policeman.

No comments: