Packages oh Packages Part 2

23 03 2010

“Ray, you’re good with directions”. This is what my colleague told me as we were driving into the village. I told her I didn’t have a choice because there are some days where I don’t have a translator or a driver so I just wing it. I’ve gotten used to driving on the British side of the road, driving aggressively because I have to and four wheel driving in the dirt roads after a rainstorm. Half the time I don’t know where I’m going since there are no street signs so you just look for markers like ‘big banana tree’ or ‘turn left where you see the herd of cows’.

So I drove to the village today and then took a matatu back to Kampala. It never ceases to amaze me how many people they can shove into these tin cans. At the peak of the drive, I counted 16 in my matatu. Luckily it was cool today so I didn’t have to sweat profusely.

Upon getting back to the office I got package #2. Oh Happy Day!

Among the many goodies I received:

  • lop cheung
  • sirracha hot sauce (a must for every Asian household)
  • dried chap chae noodles (time to enlist my Korean friend to cook)
  • SPAM!!! an essential when you’re cooking fried rice
  • chocolate and lots of it
  • little debbie’s snack cakes and oreos!!!
  • hand sanitizers and razor blades
  • lay-see (man I miss Chinese New Year)

Thanks Bay Area friends!!! I would hyperlink everyone so you can read their blogs but only Stan updates on a regular basis.

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Packages oh Packages!

10 03 2010

So I received today I hope the first of many care packages. I knew I had one coming but didn’t know how long the Ugandan mail system would take. Apparently USPS international postal service is fairly on time and it took two weeks to get here. Before I show you the loot, I need to write about the mail system.

We have a PO Box where we receive international mail and so I headed over there. I opened the box and there was a slip saying I had a package waiting for me at the main post office. The slip also said I had to pay 3,000 shillings because they had held my package for more than 7 days. I didn’t care because I was more excited about getting something in the mail. So I get to the main post office and waited in line after line after line. This wasn’t going to be easy. I finally got to the right line in parcels on the 2nd floor. I gave them my slip and they said to take a seat. Are you kidding? There’s no one in front of me, I just want my package. Five minutes later they come out with my box. Then they said I had to sign a receipt and show them my ID. No big deal. I started getting frustrated when they said I couldn’t take my box yet because I had to show them the receipt that I had paid the 3,000 shillings. So I moved five feet down the counter to another gentlemen who moved slower than a snail to match my parcel receipt with the original receipt. He then asked for my ID. I told the guy, ‘uh that dude just checked my ID’. He didn’t care and just proceeded to write another receipt for me to sign and then said ‘you can’t leave yet, go take this receipt to the man over there on the opposite wall. So by now, I am just about to go postal (not really, but it would have been funny since I was in a post office) and proceeded to take yet another receipt to another man writing down something on a ledger. He asked for my ID. You have to understand the comedy and inefficiency in all this. All three men can see each other and all three have identical ledgers saying the same thing – I have paid and signed for my package. So I obliged one last time, showed my ID, signed the man’s ledger and darted out the door holding my package like it was Christmas day!!! Total time in line: 30 minutes.

Let’s just say I was not too impressed with the efficiency of the post office.

But it was all worth it because….

I hit the motherload. Thank you Caitlin, Kevin, Harrison, Liz and Hadley. Toiletries check, chocolate check, jif peanut butter check, pens check, magazine check, valentine’s card from Hadley priceless. You have made my day!!!