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Thursday, October 14, 2010

How Many People Does It Take to Mail a Package from Bagamoyo?

(Written two weeks ago but I didn't have an internet connection till now)

Okay, today a few of us who are leaving on Saturday decided to mail packages to the states from Bagamoyo to lighten our travel load.  Thank goodness, Elias, a driver for CCS, came with us to the post office.  We arrive at 3 pm with packages in tow.  After much Swahili conversation between Ms Bagamoyo Post Office and Elias, we are handed "customs forms" and told that we need to take the packages to the customs office next to the fish market.  I took this photo of Ms B PO but she didn't like it cause she wasn't centered in the circle so I took another.

We haul our packages back out to the van and Elias drives us to the customs office next to the fish market down by the sea.  `Even Elias is afraid to get out of the van.  Finally he does and carefully watches us as we make our way to the customs office which is on the second floor of a building that looks like it was bombed at some point in time.  We make our way up two flights of narrow, dark, chipped and chunked cement stairs.  All the while Dee is muttering "and how much money are we saving?" only to find that the customs officer is at the Millenium Hotel right now.  We are asked to wait.  
After about 30 minutes the customs official shows up.

 He has every intention of making us open our packages to show what's inside but because we are shikamoo (elders) he tells us he will trust us.  (It's really because Dee had taped every inch of her box with tape and he couldn't bear to deal with it.  We are eternally grateful not to have to open the boxes and say, "Assante sana"  "assante sana" "assante sana" (Thank you very much.).  Now he just wants to be rid of us so he stamps each of our packages with the official customs stamp and sends us on our way.

We  make our way down the narrow steps.  Men are laying on their motorcycles and shouting to us as we make our way back to the van.

Elias takes us back to the post office.  Miss BPO weighs our packages, figures up the postage:  94,500 shillings.  We pay.  It's cheaper than UPS.

Next Miss BPO opens her drawer and slowly counts out 94,500 shillings worth of stamps.  We think she is kidding  She is not.  Elias says, "Oh my GOT!"  The postal assistant helps us apply the stamps  matching the perforations of each stamp.

Next she pulls out an ink stamp and cancels every single stamp with the ink stamp.   We are laughing hysterically by this time.

Now Ms BPO writes out our receipts but has a problem determining which receipt goes with which box.

Elias and Dee are trying to help.  I'm laughing too hard.

An hour and forty minutes later we tried to leave the Post Office only to find out we were locked in.  

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