paulfraser (paulfraser) wrote,

You ask me if I know Manuel the Bandito

Having returned from New York, where I learnt more about firearm laws on the merto; this time about the illegality of selling toy guns that look real, and in painting real guns to look like toys; and where I heard much about the ill-nature of disrespect; it seems to be a favourite word with the locals; I returned to Mexico.

In the time since, random pieces of information have come my way. For instance, my vocabulary-building program, Anki (cheers, Rob), tells me of the term 'hora inglesa'. In Latin America, punctuality is not particularly important. On the odd occasion it is, an appointment time will be specified as hora inglesa, or English time, to reflect how those strange English and Americans conduct themselves.

I once promised an exposé of dealing with bureaucratic garbage in this country, but the following story pretty much tells it all. A colleague from Belgium has finished his postdoctoral fellowship here and been offered a permanent position in another department. First, he must complete the paperwork. Initially they wanted the 'apostille' of his degree certificates. This involves a government stamp, some money to change hands and an official translation by an accredited professional. Fine. We all have them from when we started here. But, next they wanted apostilles of his high school certificates. Again, fine. Then his primary school certificate. At this point things are getting ridiculous, but with document forgery commonplace here, one could understand.

But then they wanted the syllabus for every subject he took in university. Not an academic transcript – a subject-by-subject description of course content. Translated into Spanish. At about $10 a page. Of course, he has not been at university for 10 years, and his university has changed course structure, so those documents simply do not exist. But, he found equivalents and had them translated, where another man (such as myself) would tell them where to file such papers.

Having thusfar failed to deter this foreigner from stealing a Mexican job (which no Mexican alive is qualified to fill), they decided his high school certificates were not sufficient because Belgium has 3 levels of 2 years, and Mexico has 2 levels of 3 years, and are thus vastly and irreconcilably different. And, as he is striving to undertake what paper-shuffling is necessary to overcome this, they are threatening that he will need to translate his 200+ page PhD thesis into Spanish, so it can be 'official'. All of this is at his own expense, at a time when he is between jobs. They have also given no binding guarantee the job is his at the end.

This is without doubt one of the most idiotic policies I've ever encountered. “Mexico has problems, and we must keep foreign educators out to solve them.” Let's see how that small-minded idea works out for you, morons.

At least now my bank doesn't want me to convert pesos to US dollars to send home to be converted to Australian, with 2 conversion fees. A modest improvement.

I've been watching many westerns from the sixties and early seventies, that era where swearing was unacceptable. However, every western must have a Mexican bandito. Speaking Spanish. Unintelligible to prudish American viewers and censors. In one fine example, outlaw Charles Bronson is travelling with samurai Toshirō Mifune (it almost makes sense in the script), and they are hiding out in the barn of a Mexican homestead, watching the bandito chief holding a pistola to the back of the farmer's head

“¿Donde están las hijas?” says the bandit.

“What does he say?” says the samurai.

“He asked where his daughters are hidden” says the outlaw

Not a bad translation.

“Chinga tu puta madre” spits the farmer.

“What does he say?” again says the samurai.

“He says he won't tell him” says the outlaw.

That's not what he said.

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