20 September 2007 | Saint Georges
We decided to ship few final things to the boat before taking off to Tobago next week. Our mail forwarding service has been shipping us things FedEx and it only takes two days to get here from the US. Not bad. I have now discovered that you can actually clear things through customs in about an hour yourself, if you know what you're doing, which I did not until today.
My first stop was a the FedEx office in Saint Georges with my FedEx delivery notice. It was worth a try, right? Perhaps not, but I needed them to berate my attempt just long enough to discover what paperwork I was missing. They obliged and informed me that I needed to get a provisional release from customs. Provisional, hmmm. I didn't like the sound of that but I dutifully marched down the Carenage in the blazing sun to the shipping port to see customs. After bouncing around the customs building a bit I finally wound up in an office with the right officer.
"You don't have a proper invoice", he said. I was unruffled. This is what they always say, no matter how complete your invoice is. The invoice read, "Computer Software: $400", "DVDs: $75", or something similar. I asked what the problem was. He said, "what is computer software?" This did ruffle me. "Programs for a computer?", I offered. "Yes but is it a CD?", he demanded. "uh, why yes", I responded with no real idea as to whether it was a CD or DVD, but fairly certain that it did not matter. "Ok that's what I need to know", he replied. "How many DVDs?", was the next shot across the bow. "Uh, 75 divide by 20, approximately 4", I responded, trying to maintain a tone of respect. The dialog continued for a few more rounds. Once it had been made entirely clear how inadequate my invoice was he set about preparing the sheet of paper I needed. The expected break to chat with any of his friends who might be walking by included I was in there probably a mere twenty minutes.
I emerged from the customs office and, after shooing off the ravenous customs brokers lurking about the dock (who will charge you $50 US for this process), I made my way back around to the other side of the port where the FedEx office sits facing the waterfront. "Hi, here's my delivery notice and the customs form you asked for", I said with an upbeat air. "Where's your permit to import ship's stores?", came the retort. "What is that?", I said meekly with a down beat air. "You need it to get the special yacht-in-transit duty reduction", said the lady in a what-kind-of-idiot-are-you tone.
Perhaps I'll just pay the extra, I thought. "What would it cost to get the package as is?", I ventured? "Oh, you'd like to know, wouldn't you? Well, sure enough I'm going to tell you then." This all in a fairly curt manner with rising exasperation. "Four million, seven hundred and thirty five dollars EC", she said. Not really but it was something like three hundred US for a box of stuff worth maybe five hundred. "I'll just get the permit then, why don't I?".
In my head I said, "why didn't you tell me that I needed a permit the last time?" No, better not go public with that one until after I have the package. Instead I queried, "is this the last document I will need to collect my package?". A hasty yes was offered as the lady disappeared into the back room. I had to subpoena another employee to find out where I get such and article. The customs office you cleared in at, was the response. Lucky for me I cleared in at the Grenada Yacht Club this time around, only a little farther than the port customs office. Somewhere on the south shore would have required a taxi and probably another day.
The quest continued. I hiked around the Carenage, up over the hill between the Carenage and the Lagoon and down to the yacht club. I was terribly fortunate not to have run across any of these facilities during a holiday, after hours or on a lunch break. The customs guy at the yacht club was watching a James Bond flick on the laptop and was fairly put out that I should interrupt him with business. All the same he gave me the form to fill out and upon my return signed and stamped it a few times and went back to his movie.
Back out into the blazing sun, this time armed with a Coca Cola, I marched back to the FedEx office. Assured of my just cause and righteous array of paperwork, I yet maintained an even disposition to avoid engendering yet another form requirement. I neutrally presented my paperwork, all of which had thus far been acquired at no cost, and waited. I had to print and sign in a huge ledger in the back and pay $40US, was offered a banana (a prize for perseverance?), and sent upon my way.
As I walked down the street I reflected upon the day; delivery notice [you get from your marina or use Island Water World], customs clearance [from the port], permit to import ship's stores [from the customs office you cleared in at], package pickup [at FedEx], at about 15 minutes each if you know what you're doing. It dawned on me that not one person ever required a single piece of ID or legal documentation (other than those I acquired that afternoon without showing ID or legal documentation). The only thing I had on me at the start of the day to prove I deserved this package was the failed delivery notice from FedEx. Anyway, it's nice to have some new movies to watch.