Sunday, February 28, 2010

Our package arrives!

Tim, our friend from England, sent us a couple of packages in the mail. Unfortunately, with Bolivian mail, whether or not the package makes it is totally up to a throw of the dice. A large percentage of mail simply disappears along the route.

So, Tim decided to combine a bunch of packages into one large box. He put them into a rubber tub that we could use to store things in while we were in the States, and sent them to us through DHL.

Things were great until they made it to Bolivian soil. I mean the package literally flew across the world...then hit mañanaland. Who needs Disneyworld? We LIVE in tomorrow land!

DHL never told us that the package entered the black hole of delivery systems. We had to call them after it spent the first 7 dormaint days in Santa Cruz. After discussing things, we discovered that the content list included a box of tea. Yes...that is right, a box of real English Tea Bags. Probably 7 bags.

Now the country that is boasting the highest cocaine exporting in the world could not allow tea to come into the land unchallenged. Oh, no. The flag was raised and the red alert was sounded.

We went to DHL and discovered that we had to go to the government office in the neighboring city, 30 kilometers away, to register the importation of agricultural products. It seems like someone thought we were wanting to start a teabag farm and grow teabags on Bolivian soil.

So, we went to the office, and after waiting and filling out forms in septriclate, we had to pay 30 bs. That is about $4 usd or 2 British pounds. But, could I pay this exhorbant importation tariff at the office of agriculture? NO. I had to drive 3 kilometers to the bank, which, like all offices here, was closed.

This meant that the next day we had to go back to the neighboring city, go to the bank, pay the fee, go to the government office, fill out four more forms (this is no exaggeration) and then they gave us copies of the forms to take to DHL.

When we went back to DHL the following day, there was such a long line of people wanting to receive money (DHL is also Western Union) that we had to wait until the next business day. We returned, only to discover that we now had to go to another government office, the tax office, and register in order to receive shipments from out of the country. Never mind the fact that we had already received several packages in the three years that we have lived, they did not have our name on file, so off we go to register.

The office is downtown, so after we found parking and walked to it, it was 11:45. I went to the first desk, and the man told me that it was lunch time, to come back in the afternoon. I pointed out that it was 15 minutes until lunch time, so he told me that the computer system was down and I had to return. I asked when the system would be back on line, and he replied that it would come back on after lunch.

After lunch I returned and discovered that I did not have all my documents in order to register to receive packages. I had to come back. Included with the documents, I had to draw a map to my house on a piece of paper--the type of map you would give to a friend on a napkin. Why? They did not know, but they needed a pencil drawn map....oh yeah, and a new manilla folder. I filled out the six forms, gave them another copy of my identity card and the map in the new manilla folder, and they told me that I had to go to another government office to register. I went there and the man registered me without much trouble, then sent me back to the first office with the paperwork. The first office gave me a receipt...but first I had to go to a bank to pay. :)

I took all of my documents back to the DHL office. They looked at them, and then told me that they would MAIL, yes, MAIL the documents to Santa Cruz. Of course, now it is the weekend before all the offices are closed for five days.

The documents made it to Santa Cruz. I was a registered importer of agricultural products and could thereby receive my 7 tea bags without risk or harm to the general population.

Final scene: The package arrives to Cochabamba, but DHL cannot find my house, which is two blocks off of a main street, at the end of street. My directiont to DHL were this: Go up Eudoro Galindo until it ends, turn right, which is the only way you can go, for two blocks, my house is the last house on the street. They could not find it. I had to go the the DHL office to get it.

Final count--in case I forgot something. Two trips to another city, three trips to the bank, four trips to DHL, three trips to Government Tax Office 1 and one trip to Government Tax Office 2. was worth it! And...this is normal to us now. I told this to Tim in an email. When we first came to Bolivia, this drove us bonkers. Now, it is just life. As a Bolivian who lived in the USA for 30 years said, In Bolivia it takes three days to change a lightbulb, and then the lightbuld will not work and you will have to change it again.

Tim, thanks for the package! See the opening ceremony below.


Kathy W said...

What a nightmare! I don't think I would ever get used to all the red tape and aggravation!
By the way, how tall is Caleb now??? He looks HUGE on that video!!
Praying for you all!
Kathy W

Caris said...

Wow. And I thought the DMV was bad...

Carter said...

I was noticing how long Joy's hair has gotten and then all of a sudden in the video she grew a mustache right before my eyes! It started off small and then grew across her whole face, but then just as quick as it grew she must have shaved it off.
Man I wish I could grow hair like that!
Love you guys!