You might be wondering WHY we don’t have our stuff yet when, as I mentioned in an earlier post, our shipment is traveling by air rather than by sea. The actual transport should take only a week at most.
The catch is, you have to have an Ethiopian ID card before you are eligible for duty-free status. Without that status it would cost a fortune to receive our boxes, which contain heavily taxed items like iPod docks, Glenmorangie whisky, and electric kitchen appliances. We had to wait for our ID cards and then our duty-free letters to be processed before we could even consider picking our shipment up at the airport.
While there are a lot of commodities in short supply in this country, there is plenty of bureaucracy to go around. New teachers’ ID cards were delayed first when the machine for printing them broke down; then with the Prime Minister’s untimely and sudden passing, the government offices were closed. When everyone felt the IDs were finally on the horizon, the dispensing department ran out of the plastic it uses to make the cards. By then, some of the teachers’ shipments had started to arrive and there was a problem with costs for holding them in the receiver’s warehouse, so the school offered to step in and provide the ID office with the plastic to make the cards. Alas, that did not fit the protocol, and we had to wait until new plastic arrived through approved channels. We finally got the cards about two weeks ago. Mercifully, the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs was quick in processing our duty-free letters, and they arrived only a few days after the ID cards.
Our boxes were being held at a warehouse in Los Angeles, where we had delivered them ourselves back in July (money-saving tip: for cheap do-it-yourself delivery, hire a local by-the-day rental from Grants Pass to Medford, then take the long way to Medford – through Los Angeles).
As soon as Andreas got his duty-free letter he contacted our shippers in LA and told them to go ahead and send. Ten days later, no boxes. Andreas emailed the shipper. The plane only goes to Ethiopia once every two weeks, and the most recent plane out was full.
One more week… keep your fingers crossed for us.