Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Consumables World Tour! Next Stop: Uganda!

When Dave joined me in the states for Kyra's birth we decided to put together a consumables shipment - non-perishable items that are either hard to come by or ridiculously expensive in Tbilisi. Paper plates, oriental cooking sauces and spices, Kraft EasyMac, diaper wipes, etc. The government allows us 2 consumables shipments during our first year at post, and seeing as we had never done one and our first year was almost up, we decided to take advantage of it. We were so far under the weight allowance for the shipment that we put in a few birthday presents for Blaine and an Exersaucer for Kyra, figuring that with the 3 months shipping time they would arrive a few weeks before Blaine's birthday and right around the time that Kyra would have the head and neck control necessary for the Exersaucer.

That was the plan. But, as we are learning, nothing in Foreign Service life goes according to plan. And such is the case with our consumable shipment. It should have arrived here this week. David contacted the shipping department to ask about the expected arrival date. Well, they couldn't find our shipment. The way it works is that the shipment goes on the slow boat from the US to Antwerp. It gets logged in at the warehouse in Antwerp and put on the next available truck headed in your general direction. From there it takes 3 or 4 weeks overland in the truck to arrive in Tbilisi.

It arrived in Antwerp. But from there? Couldn't be located. They "researched" it and found out that at some point after it arrived, our name was crossed off the shipping container and replaced with the name of the US Ambassador to Uganda. So it was sent to him, where it was opened and the realization came that this was not their stuff. I'm picturing this Ambassador looking at the boxes of EasyMac and Exersaucer and fish sauce, etc. And saying "Yeah. I don't think this is my stuff. I'm an Ambassador. I don't eat EasyMac."

So now the powers that be are trying to figure out the best (i.e., cheapest) way to get our stuff from Uganda to Tbilisi. We have been told not to expect to see our shipment for at least another 3 weeks but it will probably be about another 3 months. It looks like Blaine's birthday presents will be more like Christmas presents. And the Exersaucer? Well, I will probably be able to sell that to someone here since they are not available in any store here.

Hey, at least our stuff didn't fall off the ship.

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