In Opinion on Tuesday 3rd Feb, 2015

How to post a parcel in Oaxaca [Not So S.O.F.T.]

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This is a continuation of the wonderful travel series from earlier this year by the Champagne Dame – the S.O.F.T: single older female travels! Only this time she is joined by her partner, Panama Hat…. read her previous entry here.

  1. Put aside two days.
  2. Visit post office on day one – get approximate price ($65 for 1 kg).
  3. Get told to get a box at the PO.
  4. Day two – come back to buy box with contents to send home.
  5. Get told “No, they do not have boxes”.
  6. Ask where to get boxes.
  7. Get answer “Don’t know”
  8. Wander the streets for an hour looking for a shop that sells boxes.
  9. Get given 10 different directions.
  10. Finally find a box.
  11. Search for another hour to find a shop that sells masking tape (10 different directions again).
  12. Go back to PO. Get told the box is too big.
  13. Look at shelf in PO. See a stack of boxes.
  14. Grab one (swearing loudly in English). We hope they understand the F word!
  15. Stash goods inside smaller box which doesn’t quite fit everything.
  16. Wait for another hour in a queue because only one person is serving, the other staff are there for decoration only.
  17. Get charged $100, not $65 (for $50 worth of souvenirs).
  18. Swear even more loudly.
  19. Grab box and contents and storm out!
  20. Thank you, and have a nice day!

It was an extremely frustrating and unpleasant experience and it is an aspect I really dislike about Mexico. It bought out the latent aggressive Aztec tendencies in me. I was fantasising about decapitating the unhelpful postal worker. Whatever you do, do not mention the post office incident! Ahhhhh!

The other really big issue is gaining information. No one appears to know anything. No one knows where anything is and we are always given conflicting directions. Amigo, go two blocks down and turn left. No Amigo, go back six blocks and turn right.

One night we asked a gormless youth sitting on a rock, what direction the main road was. His face furrowed in pain as he thought, he looked perplexed. Then after a few minutes, he told us it was straight ahead. A big effort. Then our hosts in the airbnb omitted to tell us that there was an all night fiesta happening right outside our accommodation! And on it goes…

Then it becomes even more confusing when the whole economy is run on small little businesses, which is great for employment, but makes it difficult to accomplish small tasks, like posting a parcel. There are small grocery shops (tiendas) in every street, and small paper shops that sell masking tape, which are not sold in the tiendas. So each small little business has to be sourced to complete any activity.

If you have read the novel On Mexican Time, he romanticises some of the aspects of life in the very trendy and now very expensive San Miguel Allende, but it was written in the 80s. I am at a stage where I just find it annoying!

Have you been to Mexico? what do you like and dislike the most? What’s something frustrating that’s happened on your travels (in Mexico or elsewhere)?

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