A friend told me something unusual happened recently in a sugar mill, one of the few left on my planet:

The Director of the mill was on the verge of a heart attack because the transmission belt required for the mill to crush the canes had broken and there was only one technician in the whole province who could fix it, as this was a rare failure. The official in question sent a notice to the province saying that if someone didn’t come to fix the belt they would have to stop the mill without having finished the harvest.

That afternoon he received a telegram saying: The Ambassador of Korea is coming at 10:00 this morning. Right then they forgot about the belt and preparing for the bash. They started whitewashing all the tree trunks bordering the roads where the Ambassador would travel. The prepared a group of school children to welcome the important visitor, although they had no idea where to get some Korean ditty for them to sing.

They mobilized all the women millworkers to get old covers from Bohemia magazine, and to decorate the room where the ceremony would take place. The nearest art instructor was urgently sent for to teach the kids a Chinese dance, but it was closer than it seemed. They put false sisal braids on the children and used old files to make Chinese hats. The girls were all given folded paper fans to make the whole thing as authentic as possible.

Despite all the difficulties, they overcame them with great effort and on the following morning everyone was ready for the ceremony to welcome the distinguished visitor.

At that moment a battered old car arrived, kicking up dust, and the children began to wave their flags and fans. Heard in the distance were the first chords of the anthem when out of the car came a tall man, stocky, sideburns, dressed in greasy blue overalls.They say the recent arrival shed some emotional tears at such a reunion: Just arrived was the empatador de correas!*

*Translator’s note: The joke in this post is that “ambassador of Korea” and “fixer of belts” (empatador de correas) sound very similar in Spanish.

March 10 2011

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