It is our 3rd week in Caye Caulker and I would love to say that this is because we love the island so much, but that would not be the whole truth. In fact, it is starting to feel like we are being held hostage.
We had arrived with plans of staying 2 weeks to do some snorkelling, see some sites and have a friend of ours come join us for our second week.
Instead this is what happened.
We arrived a day early and managed to check in to our apartment at Vega Inn without any problems. We then spent the next couple of days sunbathing and swimming, things were going well.
Then unfortunately our friend couldn’t make it, which was a real shame but also seemed to be the start of our downfall at Caye Caulker. The plan had been for her to bring out my replacement Keen sandals, which were stolen in Mexico, so instead now she would have to post them. No big deal we thought, there is always DHL.
In the meantime we went for a day trip to the Lamani ruins which included a river boat ride, unfortunately that turned out to be the best part of the day. If you plan to go there, don’t go with a tour from the islands it’s too expensive for what you get even if they throw in the entrance fees, lunch and drinks.
We also started to look around at snorkelling tours and stumbled upon a 3 day boat trip to Placencia, island hopping, snorkelling, sleeping on cayes and all inclusive. Great we thought, we were planning to go there so why not take in the Barrier Reef instead of the highway?
The boat rides were scheduled for Tuesdays and Fridays, we were due to check out on Tuesday – perfect so far, except for one point – Easter and DHL apparently don’t mix.
My last update from DHL came on Wednesday afternoon to say my parcel was delayed for clearing at customs, not good when Belize shuts down from Thursday to Monday for Easter.
On Tuesday morning and with a couple of places still available for the boat, we made a few frantic last minute calls to DHL to see where the parcel was and if they could instead ship it to Placencia. Ragamuffin Tours who organise the boat ride kindly offered to receive it for us in Placencia so it would be waiting for us upon arrival.
However, as my luck would have it the DHL representative tells me that the parcel will not move any further along the line until I pay them around US $35 to take the sandals through customs, as apparently no-one but a broker can do it. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
After contemplating missing the boat ride I thought fine, let’s just get it cleared so we can also move, so I ask if I can pay by phone with my card. The answer; “sorry no, we only accept payment in person or bank transfers”.
So my options were either miss the boat and spend the morning in Belize City or pay for a timely long-distance phone call followed by around a 3-5 day wait for the money to actually transfer. Either way it was bye bye boat trip….
So where does that leave us now?
We have moved to a hostel for the next couple of nights. With the boat to Placencia currently full we asked to be added as stand by passengers for this Friday’s boat ride in case spaces become available.
Today I spent the morning in Belize City DHL to sort out the payments for customs in person, what followed was even more amazing.
After a long chat with what I assume was the manager, she assured me she would endeavour to get the sandals sent out to me this afternoon or tomorrow morning at the latest, and that she would send me an email to confirm.
Needless to say it is now gone 5pm and no email has arrived from DHL.
Upon further investigation from my friend in the UK it seems I was not supposed to even pay import taxes on my item in the first place as the UK representative screwed up and did not list my sandals as personal use. Great so all this could have been avoided?!
Thanks DHL for really making our trip in Caye Caulker memorable!