On Friday evening I received a large package – a box, rather. This was cause for much celebration both here and at home. Let me explain.
I left both my winter coat and rain jacket at home, as I think I have mentioned previous. Consequently, after my first few miserably cold days in Cusco, my thoughtful mother boxed up my two jackets along with some birthday presents and placed them in the care of FedEx, to be sent to me. It was September 20th, 2011.
I could attempt to portray the international post nightmare that ensued. But I won’t. As it is, I do not even know the half of it. Poor Mother (and Father, too, on occasion) called FedEx and Peruvian customs countless times, arguing, pleading, demanding, remonstrating for the sake of that package (thank you, Mom!). Sufficed to say, after more than a month of the box sitting in jail – Peruvian customs -, dozens of calls made by Mother, multiple emails sent and received by Mother, several confusing calls made and received by me in Spanish, and $68.44 of customs tax later (that’s more than twice the insurance value assigned to the box, mind you), my package arrived on Friday the 18th of November, 2011, almost exactly two months after it was sent.
So, let this be a lesson to you and to me. Next time you plan to go to Cusco, Peru, do not leave your coats behind. And, if you do, do not let them be mailed to you. But, if you do, do not have them shipped by FedEx.
Of course, maybe the disastrous experience with my package was just an aberration. After all, the four other packages and boxes people have sent me here in Cusco have arrived just fine. Furthermore, some of them made fantastic time: one from Grandma M. came in a mere 10 days! Who knows. I, for one, am more and more inclined to credit Grandpa L.’s (or perhaps it’s Uncle Tom’s, but I heard it from Grandpa) explanation of the inner workings of South and Central American postal customs system:
In the customs warehouse there are two lights: a green one and a red one. When the green light is on the customs people let all the packages go through unmolested. However, when the red light turns on, they take all the mail coming down the conveyor belt and keep it for “inspection” for an arbitrary but lengthy amount of time and then usually released, eventually.
My package must have gotten caught by the red light.