Some of you may have noticed an empty post from April titled ¨We have a winner¨ from our last time out. She tried to remove it, because we weren't sure it was ready, but I guess there were Blogspot difficulties. The original intent was to mention that we've heard from two people that they sent packages (one as long ago as during training, about three or four months) that we haven't received yet. But we talked to the Post Office here and they said it could take up to six months sometimes, so we decided to give them some more time.
However, we wanted to update / provide some guidance on what we've learned from the packages we have received. Now that we are collecting our mail directly at the general delivery at the Santiago post office (before, Peace Corps was picking up our mail at one of the Post Offices in Panama City), it seems that letters and packages arrive here within about 10 days to maybe two weeks. Which seems quite rapid.
Picking up letters is easy - they have a stack for people whose last name starts with ´C´ and flip through them. Picking up packages is similar; they log the packages and put a ticket in a book for the ´C´s. Generally, if it is a small package, or a padded envelopes, they hand it directly to us, because we are Cuerpo de Paz, and don't have to pay tariffs, taxes, customs, etc. But sometimes, and it seems more likely when it is a box, they send us next door to the Customs folks. The post office people bring the package to the customs folks, who then hand it to us.
Of course, I'm extrapolating from limited data here, and it maybe in the future that we'll have to open packages for them or something. It may depend on who is working that day, or how busy they are. They seem to know several of the PCVs in our region, at least ones who get a lot of packages I guess.
So, how much does it cost to send a package, what might we want, what can we get here, and such? It seems that most of the packages have been in the $30-$40 range to send, now that the USPS has stopped offering a Book Rate. Which means most things aren't worth sending anymore, especially if they are heavy. Plus, we can find most things we need here: the supermarkets have peanut butter, Gatorade, chocolate, and if we want to pay nearly $4, Nature Valley granola bars (which means that with shipping costs, it would be about the same from the states :)
So what would we like to receive? I wouldn't mind pictures of the seasons, which I'm hoping would make it easier to explain fall (with leaves changing colors) and winter (no leaves, snow, ice). It is hard to describe to folks who have no context for such ideas. If your house has open block windows, with no screens or glass, the concept of what is cold is just very different.
Beyond that, the occasional letter, or an old copy of a magazine, would be great. Oh, and if you try on a pair of shoes, send us the desiccant pack ("Warning: Silica Gel. Do Not Eat!"); we tuck them in with electronics and other stuff we don't want mold growing in. Thanks!