Flores and the Money Man

Trip Start Oct 10, 2007
Trip End May 15, 2008

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Flag of Guatemala  ,
Saturday, March 8, 2008

Flores is the cleanest, most quaint little island/town I have been to in Guatemala.  I'm sure some of this has to do with the more wealthy tourist types who visit there.  In spite of this, most people living there, or in nearby Santa Rosa, refreshingly only speak Spanish. 

I actually like Flores and that it took me only 15 minutes to walk the whole island.  Super humid so be prepared, my hair was huge!  I visited ARCAS www.arcasguatemala.com , a great wildlife rehabilitation center, Guatemalan NGO nearby Flores.  I got to hangout with spider monkeys, toucans, a fabulous jaguar and such.  They seemed to be very eager for volunteers:)

And then there was the Money Man.  I met the Money Man on a Sunday morning as I was getting money from the caja automatico aka ATM, preparing for my afternoon trip to Tikal.  The caja automatico gave me my money but decided it wanted to keep my card.  Being a Sunday and all I could not get to the bank to retrieve my card.  When I turned around to leave there was a man standing behind me...The Money Man...I told him este no esta trabajando  more or less "It is not working"  and he said  let me call the bank for you and I spoke to a man in english who wanted me to press 1234 into the machine.  Clearly this did not work and seemed strange so I left and explained to a couple other people that the machine was not working.

Tikal was great, I ran into a woman I met at Finca Tatin from Alemaņa (Germany) and we exchanged info.  I then saw awe inspiring structures that really seem more surreal than the Grand Canyon, and was thoroughly distracted by all the spider monkeys, especially the one I made distant friends with.

Then I returned to Flores and went to the bank the next day.  The bank manager swung me onto his motorcycle and we headed down to the caja automatico where, coincidently, the Money Man was.  I was all like "Hey he's the guy that tried to help me hey hi" and all and he waved and ran off just as I wondered why is the Money Man here at the same time the next day. 

The bank guy unlocked the machine and pulled out about ten cards and said take which one is yours,  ahhh the double edged sword of the convenience of Guatemala.  And, of course, there was no money in my account.  Money Man managed to clear out my account in one day with 10 different transactions 6 of which were in stores.  Can't quite figure out the whole returning my card to the machine thing but he is now a wealthy Money Man by Guatemalan standards and I was already a fairly poor United Staten by United States standards

Now I am in a mid dispute process with a bank that thinks that Peten is a store and no matter how much I tell them that it is a large part of Guatemala they keep insisting it is a store.  So much for small, friendly local banks.  I'll be heading for a big evil corporate one as soon as I get home, or maybe a credit union.  For all my Southwest friends it would be Compass Bank that has cost me much time and money.  Just an fyi.

The one good thing that Money Man brought me was connections with a few Germans who were very excited to organize a plan to hide the next morning and try to catch Money Man in the midst of his fraudulent actions.  I doubted he would show seeing that we saw each other a second time.  After our unsuccessful stake out we went for breakfast where my new German friend bought me breakfast.  So, without Money Man I wouldn't have my new German friend.

Yaa for stake outs boo for the Money Man.

My suggestions, only use an ATM next to a bank with all those teen-aged looking men holding rifles AND only during the week.  Also, apparently, there is a ghost account type way of protecting ALLLL of your money from being stolen.  Ask your bank about it before heading out and lets all say a big  Adios Money Man!!!
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