Buenos Aires, Argentina
The Post Office debacle went like this: All we wanted to do was send 2 parcels, one of souvenirs to the UK and one of clothes etc to the Galapagos (to ease my bulging backpack). Sounds simple right? No. Its anything but. Firstly, El Correo (Post Office) doesn`t sell any kind of boxes/wrapping/envelopes and the staff have apparently no idea where such things may be purchased. So after an hour running round the streets of San Telmo I finally find envelopes. I wander in and out of shops begging for a box but am met with “no sorry we don´t sell boxes”.. “yes I know but do you maybe have a SPARE one” ” No we don´t sell them” “Yes… but what about one you DO NOT NEED?” “errmmm I don`t think so” ” well what about that one, surely those tins of tomatoes don´t need that box as much as me? They should be on the shelves anyway?” (Or similar in my special Spanglish/Italian) “ahhh, yes, ok” Finally a decrepid box is mine. Sorted I think. Not so. The max parcel limit is 2kg and even 10g over that is unacceptable. There follows elaborate cutting up of boxes (aided my a mystery helper who appears out of nowhere as I am despairing) to take weight down. Then a packaging, re-packaging and extra secure taping up of the boxes. Jason turns up to help and finally we queue up. This is it, we´re going to send them! The woman behind the desk weighs the first parcel. Looking good. Then it´s a big fat “no”. “What?” We wail in unison. It`s the tape, she says without moving her face at all. You can´t use tape on parcels. We look at each other in complete disbelief. The only boxes would could beg are half falling apart and she wants us to send them across 2 continents loose with no tape??? Patience is essential when travelling, but this was the third hour and the second day we had tried to get them sent. We both began to lose our cool at the counter but Mrs cement face couldn´t tell us either how we could send a box with no tape on or why tape wasn`t allowed. Cue entry by calming post office security guard. Here`s the directions to a shop, he says, buy some brown paper and string and I´ll show you the answer. Thank the Lord! Off I trot whilst Jason de-wraps what we just spent an hour doing. Mr security guard gets to work wrapping and stringing… and finally they are ready again. I arrive at the front desk beaming. There you go Mrs, take that and… “no” she says. For now the extra weight of the paper has made one parcel 2.10kgs. Yes, a hefty extra 10g. Even the security man is losing it with her now but she has no advice. Her face doesnt give inch. Its simply not possible she says. Cue entry of third “parcel-sending saviour”, a woman in the now enormous queue. She explains to us that for parcels over 2kg there is a special “international” PO. Oh thanks! So we were in the wrong place all along and no one told us! I need a drink.. Precisely 3.5 hours later the 2 parcels have been sent. Moral of the story: don´t buy what you can`t carry? Oh and by the way, you want to know why you can`t use tape to send parcels here? Because they hide drugs on the sticky side of the tape. Only in South America!