How Not To Receive Packages/ Part 2
25 February 2008 | Bahia del Sol, El Salvador
Amy/ beautiful warm mid-80's light breeze
PART TWO: If you haven't read the previous post, it'd be best to do that so you get the FULL story!
Thursday we(Santos) called Olga, let her know that we would be coming in that day. She said 1:00 would be good. We arrive shortly after 1:15, show the armed guard at the door we need to see Olga, and showed him her card she gave us two days before. We are escorted to a two seater cushioned bench in the lobby, not those hard plastic chairs where everyone else is back to playing musical chairs. We wait for about 20 more minutes, Olga comes out and points to another lady behind the counter, and that she knows what to do and will take care of us. Olga goes about her business and after another short wait, another gentleman who speaks pretty good English also comes out and explains things to us, every so often. Our driver comes eventually, and as we're standing in line in a different part of the building after all the paper shuffling and waiting, we are finally waiting for the final paperwork to be done to get on our way. Again, we're escorted to the front of the line and get sat down off to the side in this room while our driver handles this paperwork. Then we wait for the driver to be called up to load the packages. And believe me, we watched even though it was at a distance, to make sure it was the right boxes and all 5 were there. By the time we arrive to Barillas after being at the airport for 3 ½ hours, it's nearly 7p.m., it gets dark down here around 6:30- and it was getting dark about the time we turned off the main road on to the road that goes to Barillas, which is a bumpy, pot hole infested dirt sandy road, for 20 minutes! And I was trying to read this really good book I found on the boat, but had to quit, it was getting too dark and definitely too bumpy. So we're thinking, "great, a panga ride in the dark, when we don't even know the area". Oh, but we didn't know then that that's not how it was going to play out. We get there, finally, get through the gate, and give the papers to the adwana official, who is wearing a Denver Broncos t-shirt and blue jeans, but doesn't speak a lick of English. Ya know, it really stinks when you don't speak their language fluently- and there is no one there who speaks English. He made like 3 phone calls, did some stuff on the computer, but we have no way of knowing what is going on. It was apparent there was a problem. I finally asked if there was someone from Barillas Marina- the customs and immigration office only have an area on the property, they are not affiliated with the marina-who could interpret for us. He called the manager of the marina and Heirberto came down to help us. We told him that Olga the Administrator at the airport told us this could be done and there would not be a problem, showed them we had her card. Then after explaining what we said the the Broncos dude, he told us that the adwana official cannot clear the packages and let us put them on a panga because a panga is registered in El Salvador. (The main reason for all the fuss about imported packages is they want to make sure we are not going to sell these items to locals). He said that his supervisor, which we figured later was at least one of the phone calls he made, wants us to bring the packages up to his office in Concordilla, which is basically back up to the main road and a 5 minute ride after that- after the 20 minute bumpy pot hole laced dirt sandy road ride. Meanwhile this whole time the driver is also still waiting because he cannot leave until the packages are released to us since there is a steel lock on the back of the truck that can only be opened by a customs official. The Denver Broncos dude also said his supervisor said after meeting with him, we would either have to come back in the morning to get our packages, or once he got to the office, (he wasn't there but would meet us there), if there was an official vehicle there, we could have a guard- who I'm sure would be armed, escort us back to Bahia del Sol that night, observe us putting our items on Sunshine and we'd be done. That's what we were told would be the process. So, okay, by this time, I'm fighting back tears this is so frustrating, thankfully we have our good friends we've gotten to know so well that are watching over our kids, there's no way we could have handled all this having them with us through it all. Anyway, Heirberto was kind enough to take us in one of his vans from Barillas to the supervisors office, since a guard from Barillas had to ride with the truck driver, there is only 3 seats. It's now just after 8 p.m. We get to the super's office, he comes about 5 minutes later, Jim shows him the papers, he opens the lock with the bolt cutters, and there's our packages, I really had to restrain myself from jumping up onto that truck and hugging those boxes!!! Anyway, Juan, the supervisor, opened and looked through 3 of the 5 boxes, closed them up, says to us in his broken English, that we could take them back to our boat. We stand there, stunned for a moment, and I ask, "how?" He says, "in this truck". I ask, "with a guard?" He says, "no no". Jim and I are both speachless, both with disbelief and complete confusion! "Okay, Gracias" we tell him. And get in the truck with the poor tired driver and ride about an hours drive back here to Bahia del Sol, to Sunshine, to our peacefully sleeping kids, with our packages. Whew- crazy- no one ever witnessed us putting them on, not even the driver, we unloaded, Jim went to the dock to get the dinghy, we paid the driver and extra $20, we originally we're suppose to pay him $80 for the trip just to Barillas, he drove off, we load the packages onto the dinghy and head out into the dark night, toward Sunshine. We don't know, and don't care, why the supervisor did things this way. Was he wanting to get back to whatever he was called away from? Did he look at us and feel sorry for us for all we've been through that whole long day? It doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things, but it sure is crazy how we're told things would be done one way, and we go through several different scenarios just to get the end result.
Still to come: "Trip to San Salvador to renew our visas"- remember we're talking El Salvador government officials again, so no story is simple, "What Happened to the Dinghy Dock?" and "Sailing around the Estuary", and much more....