Christmas gifts being rather a big deal for 9-& 6-year olds, a top priority in the run-up to the holiday is getting some … gifts, that is. Wandering the maze that is Victoria’s huddled shops in search of anything that is age-appropriate and not complete crap that will fall apart on first use is one method employed.
Mail order from abroad is another, but unless one pulls this off sometime around August, the chance of much getting here before a new year dawns is slim, so I try to do my Christmas ordering … well … about August.
Family and friends living in the real world tend to put off their shopping until the 4th quarter of the year, often until even November or early December, thinking it worth the extra shit load of dosh they pay FedEx to make bloody sure the gifts arrive in time to make it under the tree. This year I know of at least five parcels sent at least two weeks ago, all dosed with the added cost of “priority” shipping, all with the naive hope that the Ex in FedEx doesn’t stand for EXcuse-us-for-being-total-incompetents.
Which brings me to a Seychelles Christmas tradition I “celebrated” today. It goes like this …
Yesterday a FedEx delivery guy had something with Sam’s name on it, but decided driving down my road was too much trouble, so he “delivered” to another Benoiton, asking them to pass it along to me. The passing happened this morning … the 23rd of December … which some may think is the end of the tale.
What was put into my hands was not Sam’s Christmas gift from his uncle, but rather a wad of papers saying Sam’s Christmas gift from his uncle had arrived in Seychelles, that the paperwork had been processed and that I was to take said wad of papers, drive to the airport cargo terminal and clear it through Customs — Customs having announced that they would close today at 11am … it being the Friday before Christmas and all.
Knowing that gifts from uncles are cool and that Sam would be pleased to find one under the tree on Christmas, I made the drive, then did the dance, the steps to which I know only too well after so many years here. It goes like this:
Step one: Find a place to park.
Step two: Stand in line at counter for 20 minutes.
Step three: Hand paperwork to woman behind glass (Probably bullet-proof.)
Step four: Have woman look at paper, then point to another line.
Step five: Stand in new line.
Step six: Wait 20 minutes.
Step seven: Hand paperwork to woman behind glass.
Step eight: Wait while woman eats from a takeaway box, looks at paper, rifles around other papers, chats with other people, does a calculation, fills out another paper, hands back the now-one-sheet-thicker stack of papers, then points to the line you had been in before.
Step nine: Stand in line for 20 minutes.
Step 10: Hand paper to woman behind glass, then pay 334 Seychelles Rupees (about $30 US) in import duty.
Step 11: Get receipt attached to pile of papers.
Step 12: Woman points to the line you just came from.
Step 13: Stand in line you’d just come from.
Step 14: Wait 20 minutes.
Step 15: Hand paper to woman behind glass.
Step 16: Wait while woman drinks a Coke, chats with other people, checks receipt that shows you’ve paid the import duty.
Step 17: Follow woman to cage where goods are stored.
Step 18: Wait 20 minutes while she rummages around every bloody parcel that’s arrived in the country over the past month while asking what yours looks like … and since it’s a gift you’ve never seen, you have no idea.
Step 19: Be handed a box.
Step 20: Take box, then follow woman back to counter where she goes back behind glass.
Step 21: Wait 20 minutes.
Step 22: Woman produces book you are to sign.
Step 23: Wait 20 minutes while woman looks through book for place where you are supposed to sign.
Step 25: Get the FUCK outta there with your parcel.
Piece of cake, heh?
So … Sam’s gift from his uncle is here. Cj’s, unfortunately, is not. It’s probably sitting in a huge pile of FedEx boxes that have come in over the past two weeks that have not been processed because those whose job it is to process them have been overwhelmed by the amount of work that needs doing, so have slowed the process to an imperceptible crawl.
The kids should have the rest of their gifts from abroad sometime in January, at which time I’ll get to do this all over again …
(And people wonder why I’m not posting much these days … )