We got notice that our sea freight container had arrived in Lusaka on Tuesday evening. Yesterday the freight company asked for Thom’s passport and today, miracle of miracles, it cleared customs! Let me spell that out for you — our huge sea freight container containing 5 bedrooms/3.5 bath/full finished basement worth of furniture and belongings cleared customs in ONE day. I think we should receive a special citation or plaque, or at least a blue ribbon.
My expectations were pretty low for a hassle-free on-time delivery given (a) our other experiences in Zambia, (b) the fact that most of our friends’ sea freight took 4-6 months, and (c) last week the moving company said our belongings would be subject to duty because Thom has had a work permit for over a year (he was exceeding the number of days allowed on a visa and the permit allowed him to freely go in and out of the country without a visa hassle). Apparently the intervention of USAID with supporting documentation from MSU and the FSRP office was proof enough that we had been residents less than 6 months, the duty-free grace period.
I was fantasizing about an early-next-week delivery when Thom called and said, they’re on the way! On they way? Yes, they’re on our road, open the gates. Yikes, this gave me only a few minutes to beg Bernard (the guard) and Danny (the gardner) to return the couches to the landlord’s mother-in-law and to disassemble the double bed the neighbors had let us borrow and put it in the truck. As soon as the box spring was in the truck I saw our container backing down our long driveway. Isn’t she a thing of beauty?
This rust-colored container is better traveled than 95% of all Americans. It started in Okemos, was driven to Detroit, sailed to New York, then crossed the Atlantic, squeezed through the strait of Gibraltor, sailed across the Mediterranean Sea, went down through the Suez Canal (before all hell broke loose in Egypt), worked its way around the Arabian Peninsula up to Dubai, switched freighters, then headed down the Indian Ocean to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, where the entire freight container was loaded onto a semi-truck and then driven across Tanzania, crossed the border into Zambia at Nakonde, and then drove the remaining 826 kilometers to Lusaka. Whew!
Everything appeared to arrive in good shape, though being serious underachievers, we haven’t unpacked the 211 boxes yet so aren’t sure about glassware and dishes. Thom made sure that every single one of the 282 items was checked off the manifest.
Whenever possible the movers shed the wrappings on the furniture outside, creating a nice little bonfire pyre. (Yes, those are Thom’s golf clubs, and yes, there’s a golf course here in Lusaka, where it’s a special course rule that you can move your ball if it happens to land on a hill of fire ants.)
There were about ten guys moving everything at lightning speed and we were grateful to Danny and Bernard for showing them which rooms we meant when we said “study,” “playroom,” “blue room,” “front room,” “washroom,” etc. Buddy was very happy to get his pink palace back (manned up with a blue pillow, though I think he really preferred the pink pillow; dogs don’t have the same color hang-ups that people do).
It was weird seeing our king bed after sleeping on a double bed for three months. It seriously could sleep five people! Makes me realize how truly oversized everything in America is. (Oh, and I was brilliant enough to label “king sheets” on a box so I found them right away. Another blue ribbon?)
Now comes the big job, deciding where everything goes and unpacking all of the boxes.
Meanwhile, the zinnias I planted when we first arrived are blooming. A good omen for our stay in Zambia.