how to receive a package in Uganda. an epic tale.

First, I know I promised a really great entry with pictures yesterday…but all didn’t go as planned.  (Mom and Aunt C. — don’t tell Grandma Honey this) A big Muslim leader was on trial in Kampala so all the Muslims declared a mini-war of sorts.  Police were out in full force apparently and by 3ish, everything cleared up.  Needless to say, I avoided Kampala.

Now, onto the juice of this entry.  There are a few ways to receive a package in Uganda.  I’m experiencing my second.  The first time I received a package, it came through the post office.  Kira sent me some great stickers and a letter.  It was small, easy and extremely uncomplicated.

Scenario number two.  All the wonderful people in Nashville came together and somehow managed to collect 70 pounds worth of stuff and ship it to me.  It’s been in limbo for a few weeks.  Then, the day of my last post I received an email from Sarah in Boston notifying me my package had arrived and provided contact details for Jimmy at the Entebbe airport about receiving the package.

I called Jimmy as soon as I got home and discussed having the package delivered.  He said he’d call me later with the charge.  On Monday morning, he called me.  He wanted to know if I’d like the delivery charge quoted with the fee.  Wait, a fee?  I ask him how much it would be simply to pick it up.  He tells me 250,000 shillings.  (FYI – the exchange rate is currently hovering around 1900 shillings to one US dollar.)  I laugh and say he’s got to be kidding.  He responds no.  I explain that I’m volunteering in the orphanage and I’m not in a position to shell out that much cash on a package.  He says he’ll see what he can do.

I call him later in the afternoon and he’s now got the fee down to 200,000 shillings.  Again, I explain that I’m at an orphange and I can’t afford it.  He says he’ll appeal to “their” boss and see if he can get it lower.  At this point, I’m really frustrated.  I want this package!!  It’s a quality piece of home and put together with lots of love by the people who have been my family for the better part of this year.  I told him I’d be at the airport on Wednesday and try to figure this out.  I have almost cried twice by this point.

My friend, Rachel, who I white-water rafted with is leaving today.  I called her last night because she had a similar situation she dealt with about a week after she arrived.  They wanted $275 for her package.  She explained she worked with a lady from the church she was attending.  I asked her to talk to the pastor to pass my name on to the said lady and to see if I could hitch a ride back with them after they dropped Rachel off at the airport tonight.  She said sure.

Ruth arrived home and I asked Ruth about this “lady.”  She informed me it was Winnie, her sister-in-law, who I’ve met previously.  She wanted me to teach her how to make a pizza…without an oven.  Regardless, we’ve established a quasi-friendship in the past two months.  I call Winnie and tell her I’ll be at the airport tomorrow and she’s more than willing to help me.  I then call Agnes, the pastor’s wife, to make sure I could actually get a ride home with them in the evening.  She eagerly obliges.

Ok.  The situation is somewhat under control and I’ve accepted that I will need to pay some sort of duty/withdrawal tax/VAT tax.  Rachel told me that she ended up paying 90,000 shillings. 

Tuesday. Today. Is. The. Day.  I’m getting this dang package.  I wake up around 7.  I changed out of my pajamas and put on a decent outfit.  I hop on a taxi to Kampala and then on a taxi to Entebbe.  I get off at some corner in Entebbe and ride a boda-boda to the airport.  Winnie greeted me in the departures area.  I called Jimmy and told him to meet us in Room 39.  He met us.  Winnie talked, I listened.  She told me to give him 10,000 shillings.  She took all the papers and has now proceeded with a new attempt to get my package.

I still don’t know what is going on.  I’m expecting to pay in the range of 100,000 shillings.  If they take credit/debit cards that’d be a dream.  Otherwise, I’ll have to go back to Barclay’s and withdrawal money, which means I’ll be charged a $25 fee just for doing so.  And it’s not that I can’t afford it, but it’s just a big frustrating mess. (Edit – Stanbic Bank lets me withdrawal money from the ATM…no major fee.)


Though it may not appear as such in the current moment, I am really overthrilled to get this package.  And whatever I end up paying will be worth it.  And I get to spend the day online because Winnie has the fastest internet access I’ve experienced in Uganda in her office.

I love you and I miss you and this package will not ruin my day.


One response to “how to receive a package in Uganda. an epic tale.

  1. What a story…at least you eventially got your package. i shudder to think of what i will go through when i pack up and ship back to Uganda soon.

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