Monday, December 17, 2012

So glad THAT'S over...

I wanted to chronicle the events of the crate with a computer generated, multi colored visual aid timeline, but it would really only serve to get me all agitated and riled up again.  So in light of that self-awareness, I'm just going to briefly lay out just enough details for you to understand our frustration, and then huge relief when we were finally reunited with 4'x4'x8' of used goods.

Okay, here are the details that someday I will want to look back on, throw my head back with a hearty laugh and proclaim, "man, those were crazy times, what a hilarious 49 days."
October 24:  Pack crate, send it off on its voyage to Haiti

October 27:  We arrive in Haiti, begin making plans to move into our rental house on November 1

October 30:  Crate arrives in Haiti

October 31-November 5:  Customs agents, with full reign over our belongs, hatch their plot to derail our moving plans

November 6:  We move into the house, our empty house, with high hopes of settling in to our new digs.

November 9:  Customs agent lets us know that they will soon begin to inventory our belongings to determine how much we owe them in customs taxes, fleeting thoughts of the mess of goods inside being pilfered by various customs officials

November 12-December 6:  We continue calling and emailing our customs clearing agent (the guy who has been hired to be our advocate in the customs clearing process) almost everyday, continue to get updates saying "we're almost done, we'll let you know soon what the final cost will be."

December 7:  We receive their final invoice, they have determined that we must pay a HUGE amount, equal to about a 400% rate, rather than the supposedly "standard" 40% rate... their amount was based on how much they determine the items in the box are worth.

December 7:  We contest the amount, they offer to start the process of inventorying the contents again, and mention by the way, that we have been charged a daily storage fee that will continue to build as they start the process over, we elect to just pay the amount rather than risk maybe getting the fee reduced, but paying more in storage fees... did I mention that this was the first we had heard about the daily storage fee?!?  They are closed on weekends, so we will wait until Monday to start again.

December 10:  Gary goes to try to get money from our bank in Arizona... is gone roughly 7 hours.  In that 7 hours he accomplished cashing a personal check, and opening a Haitian back account so we could get a cashier's check to pay for the release of our crate.  Errands take a really long time in Haiti.

December 11:  First thing in the morning, Gary delivers our check.  They say our crate will be delivered that afternoon.  Delivery truck never shows up, and the customs clearing agent stops answers any phone calls or emails.

December 12:  Gary goes down in person to figure our why our stuff wasn't delivered.  They tell us it is because we first must guarantee payment for delivery and another customs fee, plus storage fees, totaling over $1000.  Gary works with shipping company to figure out guaranteeing payment.  They assure Gary it will be delivered that afternoon.  Delivery truck never shows up, phone calls go unanswered once again.

December 13:  Gary goes back downtown.  Confronts customs clearing agent once more.  Is assured the crate will be delivered this afternoon, by 2 or 3 in the afternoon.  Delivery never shows up.  Now we begin to wonder if there is really a crate left at all... lament the fact that we are totally being taken advantage of.

December 14: Totally fed up... coming to terms with probably having to go through another weekend without our stuff.  Gary makes plans with Johny (our Haitian friend and orphanage director) to go back down in person and not leave without our crate... prepared to get it in the back of Johny's truck if need be and bring it home themselves.  Following Haitian Murphy's Law, Johny got detoured and had to pick someone up from the airport and deliver them to a distant part of town, wouldn't be available to help until 3:30, not enough time to get there before they close at four.  We resign to starting again on Monday.  I may or may not have said a couple of naughty words.  Gary continues to call, without luck.  At 1pm, we receive an email saying the crate will be delivered at 3pm.  We laugh and don't believe this guy for one single second.  At 4pm, we get a call saying the delivery truck is coming down our road, and to meet it so we can show the driver where to go.  WHAT?!  We throw everyone into the car, and fly down our dirt road.  With only a reasonable amount of damage, everything has been accounted for!

It's true that it was very difficult living in a nearly empty house for the last six weeks.  We were lucky enough to have mattresses on the floor, borrowed sheets and towels, and two borrowed pots to cook in.  Our bodies are pretty sore from sitting on the tile floor for every meal and all the times in between meals.  Our kids did relatively well managing to entertain themselves with some legos, two baby dolls, some coloring books, and all the treasures in our yard.  The physical discomfort of coming from a place so plentiful with creature comforts, to the starkness of an empty house in Haiti was hard.  Even harder than that though, was knowing that we were being taken advantage and treated unfairly, yet there wasn't anything we could do about it.  That was super hard.  Hopefully we have learned what to do, and what not to do, if we ever receive a shipment in Haiti again.

I'm hoping that we won't forget that discomfort, and will remain as thankful as we are today for the things we have.  In the wise words of Mylie, "Sitting on this couch is so fun!"  Yes... yes it is.  

1 comment:

Kim said...

Just reading this post for the first time and I love love love that you can make us laugh at something so not funny! So glad you finally got that crate! I seriously hope to visit that place with that fun couch!

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