Saturday, August 17, 2019

the postman honks once

The shuttered post office in Barra de Navidad

Last week I stopped by the post office in San Patricio to pick up my mail.

There is nothing unusual about that. I check my box about once a week to see if the outside world has attempted to contact me. Sometimes, there are greeting cards. But, most often, I receive alumni contribution requests or the odd magazine.

Saul, who had been the postmaster for my first ten years here, retired recently, leaving the place in the hands of his well-trained assistant. When I stopped by last week, there was a new face behind the counter. At least, new in San Patricio. He looked vaguely familiar.

Then, I remembered who he was. The postmaster from the Barra de Navidad office. He was vaguely familiar because I have seen him in the office maybe two or three times.

But he knew me. Rather, he knew my house and address. I thought that was odd because I do not recall him delivering a single piece of mail to the house in the six years I have lived there.

I know the local postmasters have a tradition of substituting for one another for vacations. But the Barra postmaster told me that was not the case last week. He was there because the post office in Barra de Navidad is closed.

That announcement caught me off guard. I usually hear about closures like that before they occur. Granted, I do not hear much news about that post office because I seldom use it.

Thinking my weakness in Spanish verb tenses might have once again caught up with me, I walked down to our rather sorry excuse for a town square where the post office is located. Sure enough. It was shuttered tighter than a Burger King in New Delhi.

I suspect closing the office made economic sense. But I am surprised that the closure would take place under Mexico's current populist president. It is just as likely that so few people use the office that its closure has gone unnoticed.

Like any town wending its way through modernity, Barra de Navidad is changing. Lots of new residential construction -- and even a new Bodega Aurrera in Melaque. Quaintness cedes to upper social mobility. And, somehow, the death of a post office works its way into the mix.

What the consolidation will mean for Barra de Navidad's mail service, I do not know. But I guess we will all find out together. Won't we?

On my walk to the post office, I noticed several changes in town that I will share with you -- along with some old sights seen through new eyes.

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