The [Im]possible Postal Mission

For those who study, work or live abroad for a long period of time, a care package is a welcome gift. However, the process of obtaining it can be extremely complicated.

the care-package my parents sent me

My parents were kind enough to pack a box full of chocolates and other assorted items that are twice as expensive here in Quito, Ecuador. Yes, a tiny package of peanut m & m’s that you could pick up at the side of the cash register for $0.75 in the States is about $1.50 here.

Completely not worth it, especially when you´re saving up for a Galapagos Cruise.

The package was shipped about 2 weeks ago with the address to my work office. I figured I would have got it last Wednesday or Thursday, however I blame the attempted coup for post-poning it. I finally received the post office´s notice paper that my package was available for pickup on Monday.

However, the post office is only open from 8 am to 12:30 pm and then from 2 pm to 3:30 pm so it made it incredibly difficult to plan around because I work from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. with a one-hour lunch break usually between 12:30 and 1:30 pm.  I decided I would wake up early and go to the post office before work.

Once I arrived I had to take a ticket from one of those machines you see in the meat area of your grocery store. After a few minutes my number came up on the screen hanging over the window counters. I handed them the notice and they requested two copies of my passport as well as $1.25 for who knows what reason. I was then instructed to go sit down on one of the benches to wait for my number to be called again.

not pictured: two pairs of pants and my pirate book

This is where the long wait happens. I think 30 minutes passed by before my number popped up on the other screen hanging over the door.  I was escorted through another waiting room to one piled high with boxes of all sizes and colors. We stood in front of a table. They brought my box in and after a bit of a language clash, told me that I had to pay because it was overweight. A guy walked me to a little desk area with a computer in the waiting room we walked through to plug the numbers and tell me how much I owed: $37! Ridiculous, my mom already paid more than $50 just to ship it to me.

Note: Make sure you tell anybody planning to send you a package to make sure they mark that it is a gift so you don´t have to pay more when you pick it up from customs.

The lady then opened up my box in front of two other workers to go through the contents, making sure what was said to be in there according to the paper my mom filled out was truthfully in there. After that was done and the guys forced everything back in, smushed it down and taped it back up (yeah, it took two guys), the lady led me into the small waiting room. ¨Sit down,¨she said, pointing to a chair across from three desks.

After she finished helping one guy, which took about 10 minutes, she looked at me. ¨Sit down,¨she said, pointing to the chair in front of her. She typed and typed for what seemed like 20 min. Looked at me, ¨Telephone?¨I replied, ¨No.¨ ::type type type:: Finally with the push of a paper clip, she handed me my packet of papers and told me to go pay at the bank.

I waited for the guy at the bank to finish his transaction and an impatient Eucadorian lady to push her way up to the window and get a piece of paper before I went up to the window. I slid my two $20 bills under the glass and waited for him to give me my change and paperwork.

Went back to the counters that I first visited and handed over my paperwork. The guy took it, turned around and went into the Box Room. He came back out with my package and handed it over. This took roughly over two hours and was not even during a busy time of day. Be prepared with your book or i-pod to keep you company and good luck!



Filed under Ecuador, Facts, Global, International, Latin America // South America, Tips, Travel, Worldwide

3 responses to “The [Im]possible Postal Mission

  1. Diann

    Your package was NOT overweight….the US Post Office looked it up and the maximum weight allowed to ship priority mail was 20lbs…your package was 14lbs. It’s a scam!

  2. i would say that, if anything, you were paying for customs tariffs on all the candy, rather than the weight of the package. perhaps they didn’t know how to say ‘customs tariffs’ and just said ‘overweight’ instead.

    i’ve had strange postal issues in every country i’ve lived in. most recently, i had to send off to the new mexico secretary of state to get an apostille (notary certificate) for our marriage license. we had a czech person from bill’s work help us send it “registered” mail and it, of course, never showed up in NM. now i am just going with UPS. lol.

    also – for the record, if you are trying to send something abroad via the US postal service, they will not allow you to simply mark it as “gift” – you still have to claim the actual contents inside, although it never hurts to include the word gift, so that they know it’s for personal use. my best advice would be to wrap everything in an old t-shirt and put “used personal clothing” on the box. that seems to speed things through customs every time!

  3. Meagan Liane Carlton

    I agree mom. They probably took advantage of her to get some extra money out of a poor lil american girl.

    But you got’s your chocolates allison!

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