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Friday, August 9, 2013

DO NOT Post Parcels from Bolivia - 6 Visits & Police and sniffer dogs

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Visit #1
On day 1, when we first arrived in Tarija we visited the Correos to enquire about sending our souvenirs back to Australia.
We had a fantastic lady.
I explained to her we had a couple of longish items and they may not fit in a post office box.
No worries, use our own box we are told.  
There was a couple there who spoke English, and between the 4 of us, we had an easy time of working out my needs.
The post office lady quoted me for Seamail, and also Airmail.
She gave me forms to complete - now at that time there were 2 X 8 page documents, and each page had to be completed (but I could see she had carbon paper).

So off I went, got my box, and carefully wrapped all my breakables.

I completed the forms (as I speak English I used that - also as it was going to Australia, I figured this was a need for there too, especially when describing the contents - which had to be listed with name, weight, cost of each item!).

Visit #2
So the next week I return on the Thursday.  
We were hoping to head off that weekend and wanted this out the way.  

Now this day I get a completely different lady.
She is sitting playing on her phone with her handbag on her lap.
She obviously does not want to be bothered.
"Come Back tomorrow she says."
I say I am leaving, and after some time she agrees to take the parcel.
But she says it has to be in their box.
This is a bother, as I have carefully packed straight things on the sides, and items within items to avoid breakage of several small fragile things.
Soon she is ripping open my parcel.  Yikes.
I try to stop her.
I agree to buy her box.
Now she wants to undo the plastic bag so she can pick at things.
About now I am getting cranky.
I tell her no, and she just shoves stuff.
So I grab my stuff and leave.  She is so rude!

Visit #3
I come back with the hotel owner next day.
We are told posting day was yesterday or Tuesday.
I give up!
She also says I have to re-do 8 forms to Spanish.
She then says we have to come back that afternoon to have the parcel checked.
So we have to buy the box, and keep it flat, and only re-pack in front of staff!

Visit #4
So back we go that afternoon.
This is a different lady than the morning - and I can't believe she hates her job even more than the last one.
She is like Hitler's wife - oh does she give us a hard time!  I shall call her "Señora Correos".
She tells us she is busy (licking stamps) and to wait.
We wait 1/2 hour and then she tells us the person is busy or not there.
She wants us to repack the box there.
She wants me to pay, so I do.
So I have completed a total of 24 forms all by hand.
I am then asked for my passport, and I have to go and get 3 copies of the paid receipts, and the passport.
I am losing track of how many documents we are up to!

Visit #5
We return with the photocopies.
We supply the hotel phone number - and wait for it - we are told to come back 9 a.m. Monday.
There goes me leaving on the weekend.

Visit #6
We have received a call at 8.30 a.m. the the police will be late for our appointment at the post office.
It is not 9 a.m., but 10.00 a.m. (too bad about my dentist appointment).
So at 10.00 a.m. we arrive.
I have armed my boy with technology for the wait - there has to be one!

There is about a 15 minute wait.
The police arrive in a 4WD and wait .......
(drum-roll)
...... he pulls out the drug sniffer dog!

We are called in behind the wooden partition to a private room.
I question what she has charged me, and that I only wanted Seamail.
"Señora Correos" tells me there is no such thing, and it can only go Airmail.
I am quite amused by now that the only creative thing is her verbal accounts of what must be done, and what is and isn't.

Now the police man needs to do his job well.
So he get the dog to lie down.
Then over he comes and starts to pull out my carefully packed things.
He is ripping stuff open.
One item is bused (probably from the rough handling of the first lady last week - I am cranky).
Now we collect number licence plates (we usually go to wreckers) and get one from each country we visit.
I think they will make a cool collage in my son's room when we finally settle.
They are usually old, and often not in good condition.
Our policeman friend decides this is an illegal operation and we can't send them!
But I have paid for these I tell him.
Then he is pulling all the breakables apart and unwrapping them.
I am about steaming.  I am telling my hotel owner friend to tell him to stop and to forget it!
He is even bending DVD's - seriously what drugs can you store in a bend DVD?
He flicks through my son's journal to see if there is hidden stuff.
Then I had gone to the markets and bought a pair of designer trousers (pre-owned from Paris) for $1.50AU, and he is sniffing them - who knows who owned then before but the brand is up in the top 3 of all of Paris so I hope they get to my sister.

"Señora Correos" insists that she will lose her job if he is not thorough, and that they found 7 parcels of drugs once - seriously would anyone go through this if they were sending drugs?!

Then our policeman lays it all out on the floor.
What does the sniffer dog do.
Pounce excitedly all over my stuff!
The funny thing is (surely there has to be something funny in all this grief) is that the only thing he stops at is a rug I bought at the markets in Bolivia - their own country.
 So my stuff has been trodden on and sniffed by the dog, and I am given the all clear to pack.
They start processing the forms, and I have the task to try to repack my items.

I sneak in the licence plates - after all they are going to Australia and can't be used for stolen cars, and I paid for them.  (My son thinks this is great when I tell him later).

"Señora Correos" then stands over me.
She has me biting tape - no scissors (and honestly I am due to go to the dentist straight after this to finish getting my front tooth fixed, and the tape ripping chips it again!)
On and on she goes about another row here and there.

Oh the power she must feel as she instructs me.
Finally the box has enough tape to allow it to float in the ocean.

I am so thankful to my hotel owner friend who sneaks a pic of the policeman heading off with his forms - and the sniffer dog on the lead.  It is not a good photo, but you can just see it here beyond the window.  He has sneakily taken all the photos - good on him! 

He gives me a kiss good-bye.
I feel more like heading to a bar for a drink than going to the dentist to get my tooth fixed - again!

The moral of this story.
DON'T bother to send from Bolivia - or certainly this office.
They obviously have serious problems with drugs, and nothing is worth the time and the pain.
I have sent 5 parcels from overseas on this trip, and never encountered this before.
If you HAVE to send a parcel, then bring all your stuff in un-packed so they don't hassle you.
Bring some-one who speaks Spanish.
Get them to write the quote out.
And try to make friends with the staff - though I doubt you would have any luck - unless you get the one nice lady I first got there.

YIPPEEEEEEE: I just heard the parcel arrived in Australia.  It took two weeks from posting in the middle of South America, to get to South Australia, and all is well.
So I am glad it was not a wasted time, and I am so thankful to Paul for his help!

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