by Gary Carlson
Do you remember the mail?
Six times a week a uniformed worker of the United States Postal Service would at least pass by your home carrying messages from someplace else destined to a recipient for a set fee. The transaction of this fee would happen in a place called a post office where you would purchase small squares of paper, with adhesive backing, rated in minimal denominations of US currency. Inscribing your message on paper you would fold it, insert it in an envelope of the same material, and affix the required value of stamps according to the weight of the message. Then you would deposit this message in a metal container attached to your house, or standing at the corner of your street for pickup by the aforementioned uniformed worker.
At my first exposure of this messaging system 5 cents would deliver a one ounce message anywhere in the United States, with delivery expected within a week coast to coast. Although my Dad lamented the 25% increase from 4 to 5 cents in the early 1960s this was a great value, especially considering that a previous mail system a hundred years earlier took ten days from St Joseph Missouri to San Francisco, cost 5 bucks, and involved horses, riders and out running indigenous peoples.
Then around the time we all survived the millennium, our computers actually did not crash, and end life as we know it, everything started going all digital and Internet-ish. Email took over from “snail” mail for communicating between friends. About the only time we actually sat down and “posted” (yes, it was called that) something was to mail personal checks to utilities and creditors. Eventually with electronic banking and online shopping/gambling/dating et al, ad nauseum, the monthly chore of writing checks, licking stamps, and tossing them in a mailbox disappeared. I would have thought that this would be the death of the mail system I grew up with, but no. On a recent trip to the United States of America I witnessed the familiar tin box on houses, and posted (versatile word, huh?) at the end of driveways. It seems that some antiquated banking institutions, and governmental bodies still message with paper. Perhaps there are advertisements as well.
10 years ago I moved to the island of Roatan. Things are different here and with so many personal changes going on it took a while to realize that there were no mailboxes, or postal carriers around. To sign certain government papers I had to provide a "place of residence" so asking the landlord I found my "Address" is Calle Principal, detras Apartmentos de Ed's Laundry, Casita #1 de Alice Bodding (Main Road, Behind the Apartments run by Ed's Laundry, in Alice Bodding's first little house). However you do not receive mail there. When it comes time to pay for goods and services, you don’t receive a bill in the mail. If the vendor/utility doesn’t send it around by motorcycled courier to jam the document in a crack or crevice near your portal of ingress, you are expected (perhaps not told) to show up at the vendors place of business by the end of the next billing cycle, or services will be discontinued, without written notice, go figger.
Imagine my surprise when entering the shop last week and hearing Manu say “The mail came today, and there is something that looks important for the last owner.”
Realizing that I had somehow stepped into a strange alternate and bizarre universe, and that I needed to get my bearings, I ask “The what...for who?”
“Like neither rain, nor sleet, or even snow…letters and stuff? How did that happen?” I ask as the floor started to seem a little unstable.
“This guy walked in, asked if this was West End Divers, and left this envelope. It says ‘Urgent’”.
“I gotta see this” and sure enough there is a letter marked Urgent from California to the owner of the business ten years past.
As an extreme example of island time; the letter is dated September 26, 2017. In a mere three weeks it was stamped received somewhere in Honduras on October 20. We received it at the shop, the intended address on February 12, 2018.
I honestly didn’t know there was a Post Office here until I started the endless research that accompanies each posting of THE BLOG. A quick tad of googling and I have a picture of the place! Someday I will have to find out just where this is, and take my own picture.
You know we love hearing from all of you, just remember to get those holiday greeting cards out by June!
Don’t miss the other exciting “In Honduras” postings here on THE BLOG for a perspective on island life!