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Container Travails

The container left Spokane for Guatemala on Dec 18. In it was the diesel air cooled engine, more steel well casing, stems of tools, welders, parts, 10 new hand pumps, the special deep well pump for JabonChe, and of course, some things for the orphanage.

We had been told the container shipment would take about 21 days, so Gary Bartholomew was expecting the container would arrive in the second week of January. That week and the next came and went, and still there was no word about the container. Inquires to our shipping agent revealed that the container had been offloaded in Mexico and not put back on the ship. The explanation was vague about why it came off the ship and even more vague about when it would be put back on a ship We were assured however, it would be on the next ship to Guatemala, whenever that would be be!

On January 21, Annette and I left Guatemala. It was a long 23 hour shuttle on and off planes from Flores to Cancun to Houston to San Francisco to Spokane. About a week after we got home, Gary was told the container had come into the country and was in the customs process. At least it had made it into the country.

The container was in the customs process for one week and no word. Then the shipping agent told us that for some reason, the container had been selected for special inventory inspection. The reason behind this selection was unknown, but maybe because it had made an unscheduled stop in Mexico. They insisted on checking on 75% of the contents. There was nothing to do but wait.

Finally on about Feb 15, Gary was told the container would be released immediately upon payment of about $7,000 US. There were the usual charges for storage during the inspection, the inspection itself, and a fee for this and a fee for that. Then he was told that if he waited for 2 more days there would be different supervisor and the fee would be about $500 US less! Gary thought for a moment but realized the extra charges and the waiting truck and the fees would make it about a wash. Gary paid the duty and got the shipment out of that den of thieves as quickly as he could. (I guess the word “thieves” is not politically correct, but that is the word that comes to mind.) The container was 58 days in transit, but he was happy we finally had it, until he opened the door.

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