Our Boxes Arrive!!


Prior to moving to Costa Rica all that we had read encouraged us to sell everything and repurchase it when we arrived. But even after selling almost everything that we owned there still were the family’s memorabilia and keepsakes, books in English (which aren’t that easy to come by here), art supplies, Kurt’s videography editing equipment, my sewing machine, a futon frame and mattress, an ocean fishing pole (Thanks again Mugs!) and some miscellaneous items that we couldn’t part with. So after gathering many a quotes we decided to go with the smallest shipping container (on a ship) available, a 200 cubic foot container, called a lift. The cost of the lift was almost $3,000 and even though it wasn’t the most cost effective choice, as five lifts fit into one container and one container costs a little over $6,000, it was still the cheapest.


We roughly boxed our things for storage at our friend Eric’s place in Goleta when we moved in July. In October we returned to CA to wrap up loose ends and get our boxes finally shipped. With Eric’s help, we spent a day carefully and efficiently repacking each box, bubble-wrapping the breakables, and preparing the boxes for the shippers. This job went beyond just packing the boxes though, as we also had to create an itemized list with value amounts for each item in each box and then also have it translated into Spanish (our destination language). Once the lists were completed we sent them via FedEx to the shipping company, as they requested it 14 days prior to pickup, along with a copy of each page (24 in each) of each family member’s passport.  We were very relieved when that requirement of the process was finally completed.


On November 1st after many phone calls trying to figure out where our truck for pickup was, a Budget Rent-A-Truck pulled up in front of Eric’s house around 2 p.m. And to our surprise and worriment the truck had with it no previously made lift container that we were informed would arrive and be packed and sealed closed with our boxes. A quick call to the shipping company reassured us that all was being done correctly and that the actual lift would be created depending on our boxes. Here we had spent so much energy worrying about whether or not it would all fit in our 200 cubic foot container, when in actuality they custom build the container. After loading the truck with our boxes and miscellaneous items and a final payment given to the driver; off went our only remaining possessions to a warehouse in Los Angles. Here they would be stored until their journey east to Florida for boarding the ship.


After returning to Costa Rica we patiently began the waiting process. We were hopeful that our things would arrive before Christmas providing us with a Holiday of abundance, as we were told to expect delivery within 5-8 weeks. But Christmas arrived without our boxes and to our disappointment the boxes hadn’t even left the LA warehouse yet. We were able to track our shipment online and to our dismay those darn boxes sat in that LA warehouse until February. Then we were finally contacted by a Costa Rica shipping company who informed us that our boxes were leaving Florida on February 4th and were due to port in Limon, located on the east coast of Costa Rice, on February 7th. Yippee! We were so anxious to finally be receiving our things; mainly just to know what made it, what didn’t, and then finally have closure to this part of our journey. The not knowing was killing us.  


Once the boxes were unloaded in Limon their next stop would be a Custom’s inspection in San Jose, where a value of the items would be made to determine an import tax which was not included in the original shipping cost. On a Friday, three weeks after porting in Limon, we received an itemized list (in Spanish) from the local company, along with an import tax of $690 and a $560 charge for unloading. Quickly, we got out our contract to prepare ourselves in disputing the unloading charge, as that appeared to be included in our original contract. But by the following Monday when we made contact via the phone the error was apparently corrected on the shipper’s end and we were only charged the import tax of $690. Once the company received our payment we were informed that our boxes would arrive on Monday February 28th. Hallelujah!!


At 11:30 a.m. on Monday February 28th, shortly after Kurt and Tiana had headed for the public school for Tiana’s local education, a large truck with three men arrived with our boxes!! They weren’t due to arrive until 1:30 that afternoon, but who’s complaining! Jennaka and I could barely contain our excitement as one by one the boxes were carried down our steep driveway and placed on our covered porch. As each box arrived we marked off on our master list the corresponding number on the box to the list. Even though some of the boxes were quite weathered from their journey, Jennaka and I were thrilled to see that ALL was accounted for!! What a relief!!


That afternoon felt like the slowest ever for us as we waited for Kurt and Tiana’s return. We would swear that those long awaited boxes on the front porch were calling our names, begging us to open them. But we were able to resist (Okay, I’ll confess, we did peek into one box as I was anxious to find my very favorite, very old jean jacket and it was there! but none after that, I promise!),  and waited to go through each box together as a family once we were all home.  So once Kurt and Tiana finally returned home, we began the process of taking one box at a time, carefully opening it as the four of us hovered around it to see what treasures laid inside. As each box was ooo’ed and ahh’ed over, we pulled out only those items that we just couldn’t live another day without. The rest would remain boxed until their final journey when we moved to our new home. Surprisingly, very little was unpacked and today all the boxes sit stacked on top of each other in one of our back bedrooms, just as they have been since their journey began.


Pura Vida.