Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Shipping from the Philippines...the ongoing saga.

If you haven't read my previous post then STOP READING and scroll down to the next one.  It sets the stage for this update, without which there is little context for what is to come here.

So I am still trying to ship stuff.  What has happened in the last couple of days?  Well, just let me tell you!  The adventure continued on Monday morning.  I dropped the kids off at a morning activity, and decided to take a trip down to see if the post office was open.  I figured that because it had been a holiday weekend that I had better make sure that there would be someone there to receive my boxes.  So I drove down in the general direction of the post office.

As I got nearer I noticed traffic getting more and more congested.  There were a couple of roads that were blocked off, so I tried to detour around them to get where I was going.  Eventually though I had to give up my attempt.  It would seem that there must have been some big festival or party going on on the street in front of the post office.

I probably could have gotten there, but that would have meant going around (or through) some of the barricades.  That may have upset some of the police who were standing there holding guns the size of telephone poles.  I thought to myself that maybe it would be best just to go home for the day, rather than face the pointy end of a gun that could bring down an elephant (or a dinosaur for that matter).

So I went back today.  Amazingly I managed to get another miracle parking spot right in front.  I figured this was a good sign.  I already knew that I needed to go to window 20, having gained that tidbit of information on my futile attempt previously.  So again I decided to leave the box in the van and just go and figure out the procedure (there is always a procedure).

I walked up to the window and was greeted by a very nice, albeit very quiet, woman.  I explained that I needed to send a box to Canada.  I specified that I wanted to send it surface, not air.  She whispered a response, which I took to be, "Sure, we can take care of that for you."  She then whispered something about 3 to 6 months.  I was quite sure that I had heard her wrong, as the decibel level of the traffic whipping crazily by the post office far exceeded her nearly inaudible words.  I had to get her to repeat herself, partly because I really don't hear well with background noise (such a great condition for life here!) and partly because I was stunned by this information.  I think I could put the boxes in a raft, row it across the ocean, then push the boxes in a wheelbarrow the thousand kilometers through British Columbia, across the Rocky Mountains, to Calgary faster than that.  Sure enough, 3 to 6 months to ship via surface.

I asked about a somewhat quicker method.  She told me that I would have to ship them via air.  I questioned her about the cost to do that, which amounted to roughly double the price.  It would be over $300 per box.

Then it got even better.

She informed me that the maximum weight allowed was 20kg, not the 30kg I had so carefully packed into my boxes.  I tried to explain that I had read on THEIR WEBSITE that the limit for shipment to Canada was 30kg.  She did not agree.  I think that I would have had a better chance to convince her that her hair was on fire.  So to ship a 20kg box was going to cost $300.  That's $15 per kg!  I politely excused myself before my head exploded and walked back to my van.  I managed to get in and shut the door before the rather extensive string of curses began to erupt from my mouth.  I am sure that anyone walking past at that point still would have heard quite an earful, even over the traffic noise.

That string of curses continued for much of the drive home.  I went inside and promptly washed my mouth out with soap.

Now what?  I have no idea.  I have a lead which I need to explore, mentioned to us by another couple who lived here.  Hopefully that will work out.  Otherwise I may be out buying a raft and a wheelbarrow.


Chantelle said...

Sad to say it but i think 3-6 months is pretty standard and accurate, at least in our experiences in Djibouti and in Niger. I had boxes arrive a year later even- but they DID arrive eventually! Sorry for your saga. We were told when we came not to expect to ever get any of it home at the end (whenever that may be) except what could fit in our suitcases. I am sure when that day comes, we might find that hard to swallow and be looking for options too!
Love you guys! Praying for your transitions.


Mike and April said...

This is good to know if I ever move overseas! I've been following your blog for a while, though I've never commented (or met you) before. But may I ask why you are leaving the Philippines?

Steve said...

Hey Mike and April! Thanks for reading our blog. As far as leaving the Philippines, it is really complicated. There are a lot of factors involved, but the bottom line is that we need to do what is in the best interests of our family right now. That means going back home to be close to family and friends. Thanks!