As you know we were expecting our container to arrive in Guayaquil, Ecuador from Miami, Florida. We traveled to the Port to meet with Customs when they opened the container to inspect the contents. We were confident that would not be a problem as it had been cleared by the receiving company.
There was a possibility of a problem with the shipping company’s packing list and my inventory list, they didn’t agree. My list had 313 items and the shipping company packing list had 286. That left 27 items unaccounted for by the company. Okay, we would wait for the container to clear customs, be delivered to Cuenca, determine what was missing and deal with the Florida company later.
When the container was opened, the first thing we saw was one of the missing items, our king sized mattress. To use a phrase from the Kennedy Space Center, “Houston, we have a problem!” After they pulled a few boxes, we knew there was a definite problem when we saw our bicycles, also not on the list. Also there was the problem of missing numbers on items, double and triple numbers on items and numbers out of sequence.
Customs then ordered everything out of the container, all boxes and wrapped items opened and a new inventory made. Then everything was resealed, replaced back into the container and the container resealed. We were told to return to Cuenca, minus the container, while a new inventory was prepared and translated into Spanish. We would be notified when to return to Guayaquil for a re-inspection.
For me, this was a nightmare come true. Nothing went the way it should. However, I did learn one lesson and am passing that along to you my friends.
First, do your detailed inventory, if the boxes contain appliances, tools or machines, note the make, model and serial number on the inventory and box.
Second, number boxes on all sides and top. If shipping company tells you they have to use their number stickers on the boxes, tell them fine, but they will be in the same sequence as your list. To make sure, arrange boxes in numerical,order with lowest number on the top. Make sure the shipping company’s final number count agrees with yours “before” the truck leaves your premises or you will definitely have a problem when your container arrives in the country you shipped it to.
Third, when writing your description of what the box contains, keep it simple so that if the list has to be translated, it won’t be mistranslated. For example, plastic milk crate translated into Spanish as “Letche box” and they thought I was bringing in milk, which isn’t allowed. When the shipping company writes what is in the box, make sure it agrees with your description.
Fourth, don’t let them rush you or double pack items with only one number. If they pack two items in one box for protection, make sure two numbers appear on the packing list, your inventory and on the box. That is easier to explain than one number on the outside and two or three numbered items on the inside.
If you should run into a problem, which can happen, it is important to know that you cannot yell, curse or be disrespectful to the officials as you could end up in jail. The hardest thing I had to do was smile when all I really wanted to do was rip the officials heart out.
I will post on the re-inspection later. For now, I’m taking a deep breath and trying to keep calm, which is hard when you personal possessions are so close yet still so far away.
Take care my friends and have a wonderful day. I leave you with some pictures of My new home country to enjoy.
Terri at the Drake’s Nest