As I've mentioned previously on this blog, we shipped a fair amount of stuff over here. We weren't really sure how that was going to turn out, and honestly, we still aren't. We were encouraged when we first arrived because a few of our boxes were already here. We hadn't seen any new boxes recently, though.
We had known for a little while that we needed to pay a small customs duty on some of our stuff. I'm not completely sure why--I think that too many boxes (or, more precisely, too many kilos) arrived in one day under Scott's name. A staff member at the university had been talking about taking us to the customs office to take care of this, and yesterday, we finally went.
First of all, bless this particular staff member for accompanying us. The transaction was long, tedious, and involved way more words than "hello", "yes", "no", and "thank you", so I'm not sure we could have done this on our own.
Anyway, here is a rough rundown of yesterday afternoon:
1. Sometime after 1 PM: Leave the university by car with staff member, having been warned that this might take a while.
2. Around 1:40 PM: Arrive at customs office. Learn that the entire office has just started a one hour lunch break.
3. Around 1:45 PM: Go to Artyum Bazaar, which is relatively nearby. Explore and buy some fruit.
4. Around 2:30 PM: Return to customs office. Let university staff member do the talking, and stand in the background. Learn that the customs office requires even more photocopies of Scott's passport than the staff member with him. Watch Scott and university staff member go to make more copies. More standing around. I eventually sign two documents I can't read. More standing around. Scott signs three document he can't read.
5. Around 4 PM: Go to post office with stack of paperwork to pick up five boxes. Follow a weird maze of hallways to get to the office in question, being careful not to trip on uneven stairs and clutter in the hallway. University staff member hands over paperwork to post office employee. Walk together to some room that contains many, many boxes addressed to us--far more than the five we came to pick up. Learn that we can pick up only the five specific boxes we signed for, because post office is still waiting for clearance from customs to release the rest of them.
6. Sometime after 5PM: Finally return to university with the five boxes we were allowed to take with us. Reflect that we will almost certainly have to repeat this same process, possibly more than once, to retrieve the rest of the boxes. Drown our sorrows in packaged cookies from vending machine.
And....that was yesterday afternoon. I'm hoping that today will at least be different, maybe even better.