One of the nice things about moving overseas on an expat package is that the contract takes care of a lot of the logistics around moving your stuff. When the movers came in, we split up our things in four groups: stuff to store, stuff to ship by sea, stuff to carry on the plane, and stuff to air ship.
The idea behind the air shipment is that you set aside a smallish portion of your stuff that will be sent by plane (about 700 pounds in our case). It takes about a week or so for the air shipment to arrive after you schedule it. In contrast, the stuff going by sea takes three months or longer. So you put the things you need immediately in your airplane luggage and you air ship the stuff that you don’t need for a two week trip but do need for a two month trip. Especially that stuff you need to keep the kids busy until they start school.
The problem comes when you assume, as I did, that getting the necessary entry visas and papers should be fairly quick. I mean, the US Agency for International Development wants to give the people of Tanzania $5 million to help improve the lives of people in the health care system. Should be a no brainer, right?
Not in Tanzany, my friend. Even though Colleen has been here for two-and-a-half months now, her paperwork has only made it through two of the four ministries that need to sign off on it: US AID, and the Tanzanian ministry health & social welfare. There’s no guarantee of how much longer it will take to get through the Tanzany ministries of public sector management and immigration.
I know what you’re thinking. Just send it and deal with any expedite fees later. But if we have the stuff sent before the paperwork is complete we will either have to pay an import tax on it or storage fees for the amount of time it spends in customs until they complete the paper work.
So, something I’ve been saying a lot these days is: “It’s in the air shipment.” Kids toys, games, and books that you can’t fit in your airplane bag? In the air shipment. Dog toys, leash, bowls, etc. for the new puppy? In the air shipment. Kids toothpaste, deodorant, sunscreen, and other toiletries that you can’t find here? Fun stuff like tennis racquets, life preservers for boating, mask and fins for snorkeling? Kitchen utensils, towels, sheets, and household stuff? All in the air shipment.
It’s not all bad, though. By this point I can’t even remember everything that is in the air shipment. So if someone is riding me about something I didn’t pack or should have brought, I just say “I’m sorry, Honey. I put that in the air shipment.”
Right now, with the rate the paperwork is progressing, it’s an even money bet as to whether the air shipment will get her before or after our ocean shipment.