Since a lot of places here aren’t equipped to accept credit cards, we depend on debit cards to get cash for our rent, car lease, market, and doctor or pharmacy visits. Thus, we were concerned when our old cards were deactivated before we received new ones. (They were deactivated because the bank couldn’t let them be forwarded from our house to our son Frank’s, a few blocks away, even though he is now a signatory on the account, but that is another story altogether.)
We made arrangements for Frank to pick up new cards personally at the bank, after which he took them directly to the post office, where he used United States Postal Service International Express Mail to send them to the mission post office box in Managua, Nicaragua. The cards were mailed March 9.
Ever since we arrived in Nicaragua, mail has taken 4-6 weeks to reach us—if it arrives at all. Watching the tracking information that appeared every few days, we began to understand why. The cards went from Naperville, Illinois to a sorting center in nearby Aurora and then Chicago, where they hopped a plane for Miami. Being the United States, the Postal Service sent them straight to Managua, Nicaragua on March 13th. Being Nicaragua, the postal service here immediately sent them to Honduras. Wanting us to get full value for the $46 Frank paid for the package, Honduras sent them on to Brazil (March 15), where they were promptly scanned and sent on to Argentina (March 16). Really, I’m not making this up; I’m not that creative. The laugh factor alone is worth the price. Our cards have traveled way more than we have. (Don’t the advertisements say we’re supposed to see the world with our credit cards?)
The cards left Argentina March 16th, and went into hiding for nearly a week. Were they on the proverbial slow boat to China? Off to see the pyramids? In the hands of some nefarious criminal? We started to think we might have to participate in one of those phishing schemes: “Friends, this is Frank and Ellen in Nicaragua, and our debit card won’t work. We need you to wire us some money right away.”
March 22nd the cards reappeared, this time in Quito, Ecuador. Not knowing what to do with them, Quito sent them to Guayaquil, where they got on a plane back to the US. On March 26th, they were scanned in Louisville, Kentucky, dangerously close to finding their way back home to Illinois. (Are there direct flights from Guayaquil to Louisville?) From Louisville, they went to Sacramento, where, being the United States, someone again put them on a plane to Managua, Nicaragua. Being our lucky day, they were delivered to the post office box that afternoon.
The next day, we made the three hour drive to Managua to pick them up rather than putting them into the hands of a local courier who would pack them into a potato sack and throw them up on top of an old school bus that stops in Juigalpa as it wends its way toward the autonomous jungle east of here. Who knows where they might have been blown off?
My literary references have deteriorated; I can think only of Flat Stanley.
Frank, who eagerly followed the course of the package, made a map of its peregrinations and calculated a journey of 18,000 known miles traveled.
USPS Tracking EZ079184453US
March 9, 2015, 1:55 pm Acceptance Naperville, Illinois
March 9, 2015, 4:49 pm Arrived Aurora, Illinois
March 10, 2015 3:53 pm Processed through Chicago, Illinois
March 11, 2015 11:43 am Processed through Miami, Florida
March 13, 2015 9:44 am Departed Miami, Florida
March 13, 2015 1:56 pm Departed Managua, Nicaragua
March 13, 2015 2:53 pm Departed San Pedro Sula , Honduras
March 15, 2015 9:37 pm Departed Sao Paulo, Brazil
March 16, 2015 12:18 am Departed Buenos Aires, Argentina
March 22, 2015 1:56 pm Departed Quito, Ecuador
March 22, 2015 2:53 pm Departed Guayaquil, Ecuador
March 26, 2015 3:42 am Departed Louisville, United States
March 26, 2015 5:32 am Departed Sacramento, United States
When our packages take four weeks to arrive, where do they go? Can I still expect to see the box Jenny sent over a year ago?