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Postal drama April 27, 2007

Posted by isabelleinnamibia in Communication, Eh?, Food, Post, Raaah!.
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Earlier this week, my boss told me that I had a package waiting for me at the post office. How exciting! What could it be?! He hands me the slip he found in our post box, addressed to Sister Isabella Mbwalala (my African nun code name to discourage thieves), which declared that, yes, I had a package waiting for me, but also that I owed N$503.78 (about £35) in import charges!!
I get down to the Eros Post Office, where our post box is, to discuss the matter with the staff. She brings out a small package, with my mother’s hand-writing on, with the contents declared as ‘Book’. What a lovely surprise, but I can’t afford to spend a sixth of my salary on it. The ladies say I have to go to Southern Industrial to deal with it.

That night I chat to my mum and find out that the parcel is in fact Marks and Spencers chocolate and mini eggs, a wonderful Easter surprise. Awww! But surely they can’t charge me N$500 for a parcel that didn’t cost more than a fiver?! Totally baffled by these extortionate calculations, I decide to go and challenge these evil NamPost staff for my chocolate.

A taxi takes me over to Southern Industrial, which does what it says on the tin – lots of suppliers, builders merchants, car garages, etc. Hidden amongst the industrial warehouses and yards is the NamPost branch I need. I go in and hand over my slip, explaining the situation.

“So your name isn’t Sister Isabelle Mbwalala?”
“No, it’s my code name, to deter my stuff getting stolen.” (odd look from the NamPost lady)
“and the package contains….chocolate?”
“yeah, that’s right. From my mum in England.”
“Then why did she say it was a book?”
“To stop it getting stolen. Noone likes books, everyone likes chocolate.” (another odd look from the NamPost lady).
NamPost lady then turns to a colleague, and starts rambling off in Afrikaans, out of which I can pick out is “chocolate”, “England” and “mother”. Another lady is called out to consult the matter, this time in Oshivambo. I didn’t pick anything out of that exchange.

Finally they turn to me, and start debating whether I should pay a fine for the fact my mother lied about the contents on the package. I start pleading that it is just chocolate, from my mum, and that I really couldn’t be bothered whether I got the chocolate, but that it is likely that my mum has put a card or a note in there, and that is all I want. I even offered them the chocolate (as suggested by my mum), but quickly withdrew it, scared of being accused of bribery, and also because I wanted it. In the end they say I have to go back to Eros NamPost (other side of town) to get the ladies there to call them.
Back in a taxi, to Eros. The ladies are rather baffled but call Southern Industrial all the same. Whilst on the phone, they bring out the package and tell me to open it. Low and behold, I unwrap 3 bars of M&S Swiss Milk chocolate, and a box of fancy egg truffles.
“It is chocolate.”
Yes, so it seems.
“N$500, neh? For chocolate? That is funny. You don’t have to pay anything.”
And off I go, proudly donning half a kilo of chocolate and a lovely card from my mum. It only took an hour and $30 of city-wide taxi rides to get sorted. As I walk out, I inspect the package: they had misread the £4.00 value as £400, an easy mistake with my mother’s hand-writing (sorry Gee, but it’s true!).

I bet the Milk Tray man didn’t have this problem.

PS: Thanks Mum. You’re the best. And today I nominate you as my favourite person. Woohoo.xx

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Comments»

1. Colin Campbell - May 11, 2007

Ha Ha. It is the same the world over. I am surprised that the chocolate didn’t melt. I can remember living in the Philippines and Nepal and never getting mail that was sent. In Nepal we were lucky because we had a diplomatic pouch. When we brought our stuff over for the first time, some of it came in crates by plane and the inspectors break open the crates in front of a large crowd. Our local helpers no doubt had to pay large bribes to make sure that we got most of our stuff. I love your nom de plume. Is that what you call it?


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