The container finally left Seattle on the Veronique. It made the scheduled stops in Oakland and then Balboa, Panama where the container was unloaded. The container was in Balboa for 4 days and then was loaded onto the Esther Schulte, a smaller container ship that could enter the small ports at several countries in Central America. The Ester Schulte made a stop or two and then arrived at Puerto Quetzal on the 24th.
Mr. Berny Leonardo was at the port of the 25th and began the process of getting the container through customs and onto a truck for the trip to NE Guatemala where our shop is located. As usual, an armed guard would accompany the truck on the trip from the port to our shop.
I called Berny every day or two and he let me know the customs process was moving along slowly. The government has increased the procedures for importation. Now three separate inspections are required. (Naturally we must pay for each) Berny was informed by the port authorities that since the container was on a chassis, there was a fee of 1000Q (Quetzals) per day while it was there. There is no use pointing out that they made the decision to put it on a chassis when it first arrived and was unloaded.
One of the difficulties in importing a container is that the Shipping Company’s office is in Guatemala City and the fees had to be paid for in person there and then a document confirming the payment had to be presented in person to the Port authorities So importing means several round trips. It is about 4 hours one way, if the traffic is not bad.
Finally the customs officials presented the bill of $6,000 USD for the duty on the container. This was in addition to all the fees for inspections, storage, and moving that had been paid as a part of the process. Berny paid the fee and they released the container. Finally ready to go!
The container left the port on the night of Dec 5 for the 12-14 hour trip to our shop. Only local trucks can come into Guatemala City during the day, so trucks carrying goods to other places wait in a huge parking lot outside the city until 10 at night when they can go through the city.
The container was safely unloaded in the evening of the 6th. Thank the Lord everything was intact. The only damage was to our bank account, but we had enough. In fact, the Lord gives us a never-ending supply of just enough.