Saturday, November 22, 2008

The First Christmas Shipment Has Arrived!

This morning, at 6am, Allen, Alan, and Russell pulled into Gracias with the contents of the container of donated items which were shipped from Florida. This included the early batch of "Gifts for Gracias" presents, which we distribute in our area, as well as our family Christmas gifts (hurrah - we've got these before Christmas this year!), and a collection of donated motorcycles.

The logistics involved in getting this container have included some of the worst problems we've experienced in any of our excursions into the world of shipping, and so we are especially glad to have this one behind us! Yesterday the men left here around 7 in the morning, driving two trucks pulling trailers (we also rented a larger truck, with a driver, to carry part of the load).

At the port, we use an agency to prepare all of the paperwork for bringing containers through customs. When the paperwork the agency had prepared was presented to the customs agent yesterday, he took the paperwork and the (rather large amount of) money, and told us that he was not satisfied with some of the information on the paperwork, but he wouldn't give back the money or explain what was unacceptable in the paperwork! Calls were made to pretty much anyone in the country we thought might have enough clout to help us through this. It was a tense time.

As the afternoon got later and later, I was certain they would be coming home empty handed. It was Friday, after all. But amazingly, at 6:45pm, the men called with word that the shipment had finally passed through customs, and they were going to be able to get it that night. They didn't know whether they would be driving home that night, or, because it was so very late, finding a secure hotel where they could spend the night and safely park the heavily-laden trucks, and driving home in the morning.

I waited up a while, to hear from them, but eventually I went to bed. I was very surprised to see them in the driveway bright and early this morning! They had had a long wait the previous night, before they could do the unloading, and they didn't get out of the port until after 1am - and then they immediately drove the 4 - 5 hours home!

After just a few hours in bed, the men were up and unloading everything at our house. I imagine they're glad to have these past two days behind them!

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