Thursday, October 9, 2008

classic Botswana

My attempt to ship a heavily debated box back to the U.S. has failed...I will spare you the ins and outs of the the whole experience... But here's a quick summary..

1. took the box to 3 local post offices, no one knew if I could ship it.
2. took it to the sorting division... they weighed it , said it had to weigh under 20kgs... it weighed 20.5
3. reboxed the contents, took it back, it weighed 20.3... uncacceptable.. Told me to split the contents into 2 boxes... Brilliant idea!!!! right???
4. took 2 new boxes back, each box weighed under 20 kgs.. they said ok... I put them in their storage area and went to get cash out of the ATM machine to pay for shipping... ATM machines weren't working.... any of them.... found one eventually, went back to find 5 people huddled around my boxes(this was yesterday)... They questioned me as to what was in the boxes, I told them.. They said "why can't you put them in smaller boxes? They are too long." Told them I couldn't, unless i cut up the contents..I was furious...but kept my cool. I explained to them that I've been there 3 times and no one had told me about the boxes being too big in size... and that as long as it was under the weight restriction there was no problem.... No one knew the rules, they sent me to the main office.. No one there knew, we went back to the "sorting division", met with 5 other people and they came to the conclusion that it was, in fact too long... My options.... send it anyway, but that the packages will probably be sent back by South AFrica...

It was classic.... I knew it was too good to be true when I pulled into the office and there was a parking space right next to the loading dock.. But we all learned a lesson yesterday... the 5 managers at the post office learned the rules of shipping, I learned that you can never, ever be certain that things are going to go your way here... there's always a glitch... And i should always be totally pessimistic all the time. If I stay pessimistic, those rare occassions when things do go smoothly(like money in an ATM), are like a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day... Which is a bad analogy here, where there is never any clouds to begin with.. I have learned this lesson at least once a week since we've been here... But such is life.

Michelle is out in the boondocks today, seeing sick children in the remote village of Ghanzi, on the edge of the Kalahari.... Another classic Botswana instance..Michelle was supposed to fly there this morning,but the plane has a problem.. So she is driving the 7 hours through the desert, spending the night there and coming back tomorrow.. What else would you expect? I am heading out to take photos.. need to get back to that.. It's been some time.. Going out to meet with the people... the "Mothusi Six Packs" . A little election/Botswana name humor. Get it? There's noone here named Joe, so I inserted a common name form Botswana... Funny? Maybe not..

Kids are doing well, Jacob is up late at night preparing his "exhibition work". He chose a major problem facing africa, and his topic was Malaria... He's made a brochure, a research paper and a powerpoint presentation...And he intends to make a video as well... We'll see how it goes, but he seems to be quietly enjoying it... My prediction is that Jacob will be a graphic designer when he grows up.. He'll spend hours cutting and pasting images and manipulating fonts....

All for now..