This is something that you just don´t see in the US: armed guards blocking your entrance into the banks. The doors are literally barred shut by men in red berets, carrying machine guns. The first time I went to change dollars to quetzales, I nearly turned back in terror. What kind of place would need that many guns, and did I really want to go there? Eventually, I bucked up the courage to enter.
I soon found out that ¨Customer Service¨ is a concept that hasn´t quite made it here yet. The bank tellers can be surly, and most deny knowing even a word of English. Their answers were curt and to the point. Three of my twenty dollar bills had small tears, and they wouldn´t exchange them. I asked them who would, and he rattled off a name speedily in Spanish. I had him repeat it, and unable to decipher his accent, asked for directions. So far, all I have to go on is: go to the bottom of Central Park, take a left, a right, and a left. Then go two blocks. So my best bet is to come in another day when he might not be working, and see if they´ll change my bills then.