During our travels we had sent parcels back home without too many problems and surprisingly they had all arrived. So, instead of shipping our last parcel from Bolivia, we thought let’s ship out from Buenos Aires, Argentina, as surely it would be easier and faster from there.
To save money we always re-used carton boxes to send our items and so we saved up 3 cereal packs, turned one inside out and made a nice little brown box. Armed with our still open parcel we headed to the post office.
At the counter the gentleman asked me what was inside, and I showed him the wrapped up souvenirs saying they were stone sculptures and some bits and pieces. Somehow my explanation and his questions didn’t match up, and he tells me I need to go and get my items certified before I can send them. Let me mention at this point that Argentinian does not always sound very Spanish, so am thinking something is strange here.
Luckily, a lady who was beside us comes up and asks me what is in the box, to which I show her and explain again. She then tells me the guy thought I was shipping medicinal items and hence why I needed the certificate, which apparently involves going to another office and queuing for a few hours to get. Surprisingly she goes to the counter and explains the whole misunderstanding to the guy for us, so we are called back for round 2.
I am asked where it needs to go and if I want a box. I say no thanks I already have the brown carton box and there is nothing fragile inside, to which he replies I will need to wrap it with brown paper. I look at him and tell him that the box is already brown carton, is that not the same? The answer is no, I need the brown paper.
Feeling a little frustrated we go and buy the roll of brown paper from the nearby shop. We return to the post office, wrap the brown box in brown paper, tape the box shut and write the address at the front and back. Now, so far in every country I have sent a parcel from I have used the same address for both, as after all I do not have an address abroad, and it has not been a problem.
So with the box wrapped and addressed we head back to the counter. I hand over the box and the guy starts shaking his head and saying no, no, no to me. Am thinking now what the hell is wrong? He looks at me and says I can’t use brown tape to close the brown parcel, only clear tape or string. I stand there open mouthed thinking you are kidding right? But no he is not.
I take a deep breath and explain I only have brown tape with me, so he says I’ll need a post office box to put into. At which point I think fine, I don’t care just put into whatever you want and ship it out! He gives me back the box and tells me I need to fill in the addresses and then come back to him. On a hunch, as everything has been going so smoothly, I ask him if its ok that I use the same address for both.
He looks at me incredulously and starts to shake his head again saying no, you have to have an Argentinian sender’s address or you can’t send. I reply that I’m a traveller, how can I have an address here? But he just tells me that if I don’t have an address I can’t send.
All of a sudden I feel the bubble of rage mounting inside. So much for choosing a nice modern city from which to send I think. Fearing I may just explode I grab my parcel, rip off the brown paper and say fine, forget it, I’ll carry it with me to New Zealand instead, and decide enough is enough for one day!
I should have just sent it from Bolivia after all…..