Perhaps I should start this post by mentioning the exception to what seems to be the rule here. The exception being that my boxes of stuff took only six weeks to get here from Panama. Absolutely astonishing when you recall that it took six months to transport them in the other direction.
But then the rule kicked in. Having told us that they had the stuff, the shipping receipt company then couldn't deliver it because they didn't have transportation of their own (really?) and so had to hire a vehicle. Ten days later they found a suitable vehicle for hire, and somehow this managed to coincide with the apartment I'd found being ready for me to move into, so I took a taxi there on the Saturday with all the possessions I'd brought with me on the plane, and my ever helpful colleague Oumar was already there waiting for me. The container with my boxes inside arrived shortly afterwards. They'd forgotten to ask someone from Customs to attend - and only Customs officers can open containers - but it seemed that could be sorted out provided we paid the taxi fare for a Customs officer to get to the apartment from the port.
There was another problem, however - the driver had come alone, without anyone to help unload the boxes and get them up to my third floor apartment. He asked my colleague for cash, which he intended to use to pay random men from the street to come and help with the delivery... We refused this suggestion and instructed them to come back as soon as possible - which would be Monday. The container was left parked outside for the weekend - the pic above.
I spotted that the electricity counter was flashing red, meaning I was about to be cut off, so we took the time to go out searching for a place to add credit to the meter. We tried five places, all of which either had no printer (so the receipt I would require for my reimbursement from the office was not available), or no functioning internet connection so the credit could not be processed. At this stage we gave up and I meandered dejectedly back to the old temporary apartment carrying essential toiletries and food so as to spend another two nights there.
On the Monday the electricity problem was sorted out, a dozen men turned up, and the forty boxes were quickly brought up to the apartment (no Customs officer in sight, but really, it wasn't my problem as to how they managed to open the container in his absence). Now I just wait for the promised removal of the empty wooden crate that my more fragile masks had been transported in, for a carpenter to put a shelf in one of the kitchen cupboards (in the absence of one single drawer!) to give me somewhere to store cutlery trays and the like (currently sitting on a chair), for someone to come and explain why the brand new washing machine shows no sign of life even though it is plugged in, and for someone else to sort out the TV connection. Many of these things have already been organised but inevitably that rule kicks in and I hear two hours after the promised arrival time (and even then, only after some chasing) that they cannot make it so will rearrange.
Meanwhile, when not waiting around for someone to (fail to) turn up, I make seemingly endless trips to different stores searching for all the little things I need, like hooks to hang hand towels from, soap dishes (failed with that one so far), a saucepan lid, a chopping board, a rack to drain dishes in (also failed so far to find one of those) ... whilst I've learned to live with the fact that my photo albums and half my CD collection will have to remain in boxes for the duration of this contract as I really cannot face the hassle of trying to find, agree a price for, and transport, sets of shelving.
What I will buy though is a chair or two for my little balcony so that I can sit outside and enjoy the occasional breeze, but the constant waiting in for people to turn up has so far provided sufficient excuses for me not to have to face that price negotiation process that I so hate.