2/29 we left the house for the airport both of us asking the other if they had gotten this, that, or the other. It wasn’t until we were checking that we realized we had forgotten what was one of the more important pieces of luggage. It was a box 8″ high by 12″ wide by 36″ long. It had the welding lense kits made by the high school students in Wisconsin, the picker upper thingys we had bought for the Ubuntu-blox women to use picking up trash, and some bulk items, three pair of jeans and a denim welding shirt.
We were both almost ill when we realized we had missed the biggest and most unusual thing in the kitchen in our hauling-butt to get on the road. My wife went straight home and took the package down to the U.S. Post Office in Wylie, Tx. It cost about a hundred and $140.00 to ship it to Haiti Communitere Express Mail with a three to five business day delivery.
Five business days later a man leaves a message at the front gate at Haiti Communitere that my package was ready for me to pick up. The reactions of the volunteers and Haitians at Haiti Communitere involved my good luck, it was like winning the lottery and only buying one ticket, ever.
Having the box at the post office and having it in hand after passing through customs is like the difference between having a tire versus having a car. The process is almost as complicated but a lot more entertaining.
I started with a start fee, 100 gde. From there it went to a walk across the street where my ID was matched up with the package address, this was at customs. Customs walked us back across the street where six of us, custom agent, myself, and four Haitians with the post office, opened up the package and did an inventory. Second fee, 150 gde. These two fees went to the post office.
Back at Customs we sat down to wait for the suit to arrive. Once again my ID was checked and the inventory sheet was closely inspected. My ride had continued on at that point so we were in that gawdawful-wonderful place where broken english meets butchered Kreyole, confusion is the language of the day. It was us against communication skills and no one won.
The suit’s electronic calculator didn’t work. He finally started doing long had math on a sheet of paper explaining the duty for the package. My ability to understand was only cured when the number became manageable. Funny how that works sometimes. I gave him $27.00 US which set him free from one of more horrible experiences of his week. I hope the next guy who walks in isn’t old and with a beard. I can see the headline, “Customs agent goes postal in Port Au Prince”.
I walk back across the street with the magic papers for the Post Office in hand. I need the paper my friend has. So I go back across the street to get whatever paper I don’t have from my new friend at Customs. I’m met halfway with the explanation that the papers are the ones my friend who brought me there has, basically the receipts for the 250 gdes.
My ride arrived with a different driver and no receipts. OOPS!! About an hour later he returns with the receipts and we get the package and hit the road.
Before we left I went over to the man who had watched everything closely and was obviously in charge at the Post Office. I thanked him for getting the package to me in a timely manner.