I want to thank everyone for patiently waiting on this next blog post! 🙂 However, the title is not in reference to that (although such patience is much appreciated), but rather to summarize a lesson I’m continuing to learn throughout my time in Guyana. Few things here happen quickly or efficiently, and then one day…everything can happen all at once. Such has been the story of the last month or two for me.
I will try to summarize the following experience as best as possible, however I’m guessing as hard as I try, the true insanity of the process will be lost in translation…of course, I imagine insanity is often difficult to translate. 😉
Towards the end of May I received notification that a pallet of books, donated by Guy 26’s very own Ashley Harrel and family, was ready to be picked up at the dock which received them. If you’ve been following along, you may recall Ashley left to Spain in April, so I was happy to be the point contact to help pick up the books and get them to where they needed to go…sounds easy enough, right? So, here we go…
Try #1: Head to docks to pick up pallet of books. Arrive at dock – give delivery slip, then handed more “processing paperwork” and advised I need to take to customs building to clear pallet of books. Go to customs building & advised the dock customs office does not clear books (wtf??) and I will need to get a customs broker to do so. Unable to get the books at this time.
Try #2: Head to Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) in search of customs broker. Determine customs broker will be too expensive – find alternate way to clear package. Need to make an “invoice” for the books to clear without a broker. Unable to get the books at this time.
Try #3: Make invoice. Take invoice to shipping company head office, just so they can put an ink stamp on the invoice. Take stamped invoice back to shipping docks so they can put another stamp on invoice. Take stamped up invoice and initial processing paperwork back to GRA so they can assess value (which is always $0.00 for used books) and put yet another stamp on the invoice so I can clear package from customs at the dock. Told this would be a few days…unable to get the books at this time.
Week 2/Try #4: GRA still not done “assessing” the $0.00 value…unable to get the books at this time.
Week 3/Try #5: GRA still not done “assessing” the $0.00 value…unable to get the books at this time.
Week 4/Try #6: Go to GRA to personally follow up on assessment – finally get the necessary additional stamp on invoice and processing paperwork – return to customs dock to get books. Give all paperwork to customs office at dock – advised pallet has been at dock too long and I will need to pay storage now…which needs to be paid back at GRA office (the only way to describe what was happening in my head at this point is $#%@*&^#!). Get measurements of pallet marked on invoice so GRA can access storage cost, and stamp again…unable to get the books at this time.
Try #7: Go to GRA to get storage cost assessed and paid – waiting….waiting….waiting….finally done. Go back to dock and submit paperwork to customs to clear – done at 4:02, ready to give final fully stamped paperwork to pick-up window to get books…pick-up window closed at 4:00…advised to come back tomorrow. Unable to get the books at this time.
Try #8: Go back to dock – give pick-up window all the paperwork…and drum roll…….I GET THE BOOKS!
It was definitely not an efficient process, (SO many papers and stamps?!?) but after 8 tries and 4 weeks we successfully have over 300lbs of books headed to the children of Guyana’s interior regions! A special thanks to Ashely’s family for the donation, I know the books will be truly appreciated by the schools and communities, and to Glendon from Peace Corps, who I could not have got through this process without. We did it!
In stark contrast, the same day I got the books picked up, I also picked up 50 backpacks with exercise books donated by a local Guyanese business to support the Blessed Hands Foundation, which my host family started up for children in need. I called the business from the Peace Corps office after getting the books and asked to meet with them to discuss a possible donation. They said I should come over right then, which I did, and I left with the backpacks the same day….after the books ordeal, I was in shock how effortless this process was. Who knows, maybe the delay in getting the book shipment had me at the Peace Corps office at just the right time and day to get the backpacks too…the universe works in mysterious ways! So in one day I felt like I got more done than I did in four weeks…such is the Peace Corps volunteer life.
Later that week my neighbors were able to rally together – and we actually got the bridge to the play park we are redoing rebuilt! This has been in the “works” for a year now, and I was almost to the point of giving up on it happening….but it happened, and now we can actually get to the play park to fix it up!
So that’s what I’m learning to accept more and more from my Peace Corps experience…sometimes things take time, needlessly or not, but if you have the will, they can and do happen. Not in American time, or my time, but in their own time…and that’s OK.
Of course the true highlight of the past few months was the visit from my family – it’s difficult to articulate how much it meant to have them here, meet my friends and coworkers, and experience a little of my life in Guyana! It was sad to see them go, and took some time to readjust. I’m looking forward to the next few months now. Health Centre and NGO work is good, and school is out, so I will be helping with summer camps through the Ministry of Culture, Youth & Sport.
We also have our Mid-Service training in August, so all Guy26 volunteers will be back together for a few days! Guy25 volunteers finished their 2 year service this month, and Guy27 volunteers are already done with their 12 week training and moved to site…so while some things here require patience and seem to take forever – the days, weeks, and months as a volunteer seem to be virtually flying by.
Guess that’s it for now…thanks for keeping up and keeping in touch. Much love always!
P.S. The elections here were peaceful – after 23 years a new political party is now in power, congrats APNU+AFC! It was a close election and a big deal for many Guyanese. I encourage you to google and read up on it if you have some time…