The story of a package


This is a short story about a long story, a really long story. As a matter-a-fact, this story started at the end of September, just before we left for “The Departure Take 2″ in early October. What happened is that we had some equipment we needed for our trip, stuck in the United States.


Our friend Mary picked it up for us and sent it to Holland where we were living. The challenge is though, that it arrived in Holland after we left for Madrid. This is where we picked up our route from last year.


As it turns out, some of the equipment we needed was not available in the outdoor stores in Holland before we left for Madrid. No problem (we thought). We’ll just pick it up at camping stores in Spain. It turns out that this was rather impossible. Luckily our hearty and willing support team (namely Sebastian and Ria), purchased the items we needed after we left Holland (some water pouches, straps, the like). We just needed to have a place to receive these things.


And so it is that we spent severeal afternoons attempting to call the campground in Tarifa (the southern-most point in Spain). After some frustration and dealing with a drunk in a bar in a little village in central Spain who thought he knew better how we should deal with our affairs than we, we finally had an address where these deliveries from the US and Spain could be made.


We had forgotten one slight yet absolutely crucial detail (which we learned last in the pyrenees mountains of Spain during the intial break in our trip last year). Spainish post is slower than pack of snails on a beach vacation. At that time, International Overnight delivery from Holland to Spain took 5 days! When we finally got the package, in frustration, we asked the delivery person why it had taken half a day for the package to make it to Spain and four and a half days to make it the last 160 kilometers to where we were in tthe mouintains. “Oh”, said she. “My colleague had your package in his truck, but he didn’t feel like driving up here.” I suppose I should have been just glad that I finally recieved my travel documents.


The point is though, that Sebastian and Ria mailed our combined US / Holland package to the camping in south Spain, at least 2 weeks before we were to arrive. Arriving there through the worst wind storm I have ever experienced from a bike, we expected our package. Well, it turns out we were a little off, actually a lot off. After waiting eight days (giving us time to spend lots of money at the internet cafe finalized our website), we finaly went to the post office (around the corner from the Internet cafe in Tarifa), to enquire. Let me just add now, a small detail that helps me laugh about this story. We sent a package of a few things we no longer needed back to Holland during the days we sat and waited. It took a whole two days to get from Tarifa to Holland. “Well”, said the friendly bearded postman driving the route to our campground. “Your package could take a month.” I would not say that depression set in, perhaps rather motivation. Motivation to move on.


More phone calls. A hotel willing to recieve mail for us in Morocco. The campground was willing to forward the package once it did arrive. We left a significant amount of cash behind, to pay for “Express International Overnight” to Morocco. Mailing a package from Spain to Marakkech, at this rate should take four days.


On we go, to Africa, hopeing that our “continent-hopping”‘ package will somehow meet up with us someday.


The package spent (to no one’s surprise), 9 days in a post office in Spain, and finaly arrived in Marakkech the day before we arrived, somewhere a little over two months after it started it’s journey in America.


This is not quite the end of the story. We had to pick up the package at the Marakkech central post office. There every package is inspected by customs (in this case before our very eyes). “I am sorry”, said the customs agent to us as we stood there in surprise. “There is a problem”, please follow me to my office”. “I must confiscate your map”. This of course is the map we will be using to cross the Sahara desert.


“This area here is ‘Moroccan Sahara’, not ‘Western Sahara’. Morocco has lost many soldiers fighting in that area. It is a political situation and this map is illegal.” Expressing our understanding of this situation, we kindly explained that is rather dangerous to attempt crossing the desert witthout a map. Of course he understood this, but maintained that he must, by law, confiscate our map.


Finally, we had the bright idea of asking him, very kindly, to take out a big thick black marker and cross out “Western”. I am not allowed to do this, he said, but quietly did it anyhow and penned in “Moroccan”‘ where “Western”‘ used to be. And in such a way, we began the discovery of ‘Western Moroccan Sahara.’


We finished off this rare and long story with a (very unusual for us and expensive) McArabia sandwhich at McDonalds across the street.

1 Reactions to: “The story of a package”

  1. 1 Trudie en Peter

    Hoi daar,

    Misschien kan iemand de volgende keer het pakje persoonlijk komen afleveren, iets minder gedoe. Leuk dat jullie af en toe eens in de hangmatten hangen! Geweldig verhaal over de kaart van de westelijke Sahara. Maakt het lekker ingewikkeld allemaal. Verdwaal maar niet in het zand en tussen de rotsen!

    Heel veel groetjes van Trudie Peter Gijs en Maarten

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