September 5, 2006

The water man

The water truck driver is impressed with La Gringa and wishes that his other customers would adopt my American ways. It's true! This is a rarity − usually North American ways are not appreciated in La Ceiba.

Each week, Orlin brings us purified bottled water on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, ... or Tuesday and Thursday, ... or Monday and Thursday, ... or, well, basically any combination of one to three days a week that work out for his schedule. ;-) I leave the empty bottles outside our muro (security fence) with the money, L. 20 (about $1.05 U.S.) tucked under the bottle. He takes the empties and the money and leaves the new full bottles. No muss, no fuss.

Amazingly, he says he has never seen anyone else do this. Orlin says that it would make his day so much easier and that he wastes a lot of gas waiting for people to answer their door and then go get their bottles and money. No one does it because ... no one trusts anyone else in Honduras. The empty bottles are worth L. 100 (about $5 U.S.), almost a day's pay for some.

I don't like to keep him waiting (at $3.75 U.S. per gallon of gas) and I don't like being interrupted and having to rush around to find the bottles and money while he is waiting, so it works out well for both of us. If the bottles aren't ready, Orlin does enjoy a good charla (chat) with El Jefe or even me (he understands my Spanish!), so that is okay, too.

He also appreciates getting the right change. Orlin has even given me credit on a couple of occasions when I didn't have cash around the house or he couldn't make change. One Christmas, he gave us an extra bottle because he was taking a few days off. It seemed like he was saying it was a gift, but I went ahead and paid him for it because I wasn't sure. We are constantly badgered by the big water truck drivers who want our business yelling and honking outside our house, but we'll stick with Orlin. I'll bet they wouldn't give me credit.

Our colonia (neighborhood) doesn't get much traffic, or didn't before the construction started across the street from our house so I don't worry. I've been doing this for three years now and so far so good. I figure if someone steals a bottle or two, it was still worth the convenience. If and when that happens, I'll know why no one else does it.

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