Lynn and I have been in Kampala for eleven months now and would you believe that we have not had to go downtown to the post office? (Who does snail mail any more?) Today was the day for our first adventure.
And what a morning! Lynn called me from downstairs at the office and asked me to go with him and Tammy R. to the post office. Tammy went to show us the way and the procedures. Lynn had to go because the package was in his name and he had to have two copies of his passport to be able to get it. I went because there are very few parking places so they needed me to drive around until they were finished. Tammy wasn’t actually sure of the way after a certain point but we finally managed to get there. Lynn drove down there but just before we got there and while we were stopped in traffic we did a “Chinese fire drill” and all jumped out. I hopped into the driver’s seat.
I started driving but I wasn’t sure that I would be able to find my way back. I first made a “big” circle and then found a “smaller” circle to go around. There were no parking places for the first 5-6 circles, then one finally opened up not too far away. Turns out it was a bank parking area, but when I explained to the bank guard how many times I had gone around the circle he told me not to waste my gas. He allowed me to park there (for a price).
After about 30 minutes or so Lynn cell phoned me and said they had gotten to the package but it was over $100 in value so it was charged a postal tax -- 130.000UGS (about $60). The tax couldn’t be paid at the post office. It had to be paid at the Crane bank (main branch). I had passed it half a dozen times in my circling around so I was able to tell Lynn and Tammy which way to walk. When they got to the bank, they first had to pay a fee of 2,000 just to be allowed to pay the postal tax. Then Lynn had to do a withdrawal so he could pay it. Finally, they had to walk back to the post office to pick up the package.
In the meantime, the bank guard came over to my car and asked for some money so he could buy some tea. I had already been there for about an hour so I was glad to do it. I don’t know how much gas I saved but it was certainly worth 1,000 shillings (.50) he asked, but wouldn’t you know it, I only had a 2,000 bill. Oh well, just think how many circles I would have had to drive otherwise.
(We would love to get packages from home. Bubble envelopes are the best because they can come right to the office and not be charged extra. Don’t put on the package its worth-- at least not more than $50 --or it is too expensive for you and for us.) We can actually get almost anything here but we mostly “do” with the things that are here. And that is ok. :)