Our Container Arrived!

Early last week, we received word that our container was released from Costa Rica Customs and was ready for delivery.  This was very exciting news!  It took just a little over three weeks for us to receive the container.  Since our house isn’t finished yet, we arranged to have our things stored in the bodega (storage area) of a small moving company in San Isidro de General, which is about a 50 minute drive from where we live.  That way, we would have easy access to our things.

On Wednesday morning, we drove to the office of the moving company and as we drove down the street, we could see the semi-truck transporting our container parked on one side of the street.  It looked like it fared the ocean journey well.

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It was pretty amazing to see the truck driver maneuver his big rig into the very small parking area where it needed to be for unloading.  At one point, the cab looked like it was at a right angle, touching the container.  The driver managed to do it on the third try.

The first attempt to make the turn into the facility.

The first attempt to make the turn into the facility.

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The moving facility is much smaller that we anticipated and there is no loading dock.  There are a few small offices, a worker break room and then an open storage area.  The middle of the storage area was designated for our things.  Wooden pallets had been placed on the floor.  Right from the beginning, I knew the area that had been designated for us was going to be too small.  Our 40 foot container was between 75 to 80% full.  Fortunately, we didn’t bring much furniture with us – mostly boxes of household goods, kitchen items, electronics and books, but the appliances took up quite a bit of room.

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The guys had to shuffle some other peoples things around to make room for our stuff…and still there wasn’t enough room.  So, we ended up having to bring some things to our rental house.  We mostly brought items that we’ll need for the house in the next few weeks like the toilets and ceiling fans.  Of course, we had to pay to have those things brought to us as our truck wasn’t big enough.

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This is the stuff that we had delivered to our rental house.

The manager of the moving company and I were in charge of checking off the boxes (all numbered), tools, appliances, furniture, etc… as they were being unloaded from the truck into the bodega.  Eddie helped with placement of our things in the bodega.  The guys unloading the truck didn’t seem very experienced in stacking and needed direction.  They were hard workers, though.

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In situations like this, I become rather bossy.  These guys took it all in stride, perhaps because they didn’t speak much English.  The driver of the truck spoke English very well and I could tell that he was glad that he could just sit and watch!  The manager of the moving company spoke English, too.  He kept reassuring me that my things would be fine in the open storage area.  There are cameras monitoring the area at all times and everything is locked up at night.

Good news!  All of our things arrived, though we did have a few casualties.  The bases of two floor lamps fell out during the trip and a table lost the feet off of its legs.  Eddie can repair everything, so no worries there.  I won’t know about all the glassware and other breakables until we unpack the boxes, which probably won’t be until end of January or early February.  They still have to survive more handling – loading into a smaller truck that can make it up our hill.  Stay tuned!

We stopped for a late lunch at a favorite restaurant on the way back.

We stopped for a late lunch at a favorite restaurant on the way back.

Magnificent view overlooking San Isidro from Ricar2 (Ricar-dos) restaurant.

Magnificent view overlooking San Isidro from Ricar2 (Ricar-dos) restaurant.

Shipping our Stuff to Costa Rica

Two years ago, we sold our 2900 sq. ft. house in Chapel Hill, North Carolina where we had lived for 22 years.  As you can imagine, it was full of furniture, books, artwork and things that we had collected and inherited over the years.  So we had the challenge of sorting through everything and figuring out what we were going to take to Costa Rica.  We gave (forced) our children to take most of the family treasures.  A few treasures went to other family members.  The new owner of our house bought some furniture and oriental rugs the kids didn’t want.  The rest of our worldly possessions – mostly books, kitchen and general household goods, a few paintings, tools and a couple pieces of furniture – were put into a storage unit as we had decided to start off renting a furnished house in Costa Rica.

While we were back in NC, we went on a buying frenzy.  I bought new bed linens, towels and kitchen items that are difficult to find in Costa Rica.  We spent hours at Lowe’s picking out appliances, kitchen and bath hardware, light fixtures, and tile for mirror frames.  Eddie bought a lot of things on-line for the new house and pool.  Every day we were receiving UPS or Fed Ex deliveries.  The boxes were taking over the house and garage!  Not only that, we had to open everything and re-pack it all to survive a trip on a ship.  Jane and Mark were very patient and didn’t complain too much about our invasion of their home.  Mark even let us borrow his new truck for transportation from their house to the storage unit.  We couldn’t have managed without that wonderful truck!

Loading the last of the boxes from Mark & Jane's garage onto Mark's truck.

Loading the last of the boxes from Mark & Jane’s garage onto Mark’s truck.

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Sean, a friend of Mark and Jane's, helped Eddie load the huge box of outdoor furniture.

Sean, a friend of Mark and Jane’s, helped Eddie load the huge box of outdoor furniture.

Our last week was absolutely crazy busy!  The refrigerator and microwave we ordered weren’t going to make it in time from the warehouse, so we had to choose different models that were available in the store.  We had filled up our 10 ft. by 20 ft. storage unit and needed more space.  Eddie arranged to use a smaller storage unit near our big one for the appliances and some of the boxes from the house.  We still had a truck load of things in the garage that would have to come with us the morning of move as there was no more room in our storage units.

Earlier in the year, Eddie got a few quotes from shippers and decided to use Logistic Management Services owned by Mike Rappaport based out of Cartago, Costa Rica.  We used them to have a pallet shipped with some things shortly after we moved to Costa Rica almost two years ago and his company did a great job.  Eddie made a reservations for a 40 ft. container to arrive at our storage unit on October 13th, four days before we were scheduled to return to Costa Rica.  The shipping container was supposed to arrive at our storage unit at 9 a.m. and we were allotted two hours to load it.  Eddie had hired a crew of four moving guys to load the container for us.  He had a tough time finding movers available on short notice because we didn’t get a confirmation on the time the shipping container would arrive until about a week prior.

The morning of the move, Eddie and I were at our storage unit at 8 a.m. unloading the last of our things from Mark’s truck onto the loading dock.  About 15 minutes before the shipping container was scheduled to arrive, I went out to the main gate to wait for it and I waited and waited and waited.  Finally, Eddie called to let me know that he had contacted the shipper and was told the driver was going to be late due to a mechanical problem with the rig.

The two of us managed to unload the last truck load onto the loading dock before the container arrived.

The two of us managed to unload the last truck load onto the loading dock before the container arrived.

Waiting for the container and movers to arrive.

Waiting for the container and movers to arrive.

Fortunately, the movers arrived an hour or so late, but still before the shipping container.  While waiting for the container, they started to unload our stuff from the storage units onto the loading dock and into the main entrance area.  A few of our son’s boxes had gotten mixed up with our boxes, so I spent time searching for them and repacking some things that were in clear bins into boxes.

Our 10' x 20' storage unit as it is being emptied.

Our 10′ x 20′ storage unit as it is being emptied.

Stuff queued up in the hallway of the storage facility waiting to be loaded onto the container.

Stuff queued up in the hallway of the storage facility waiting to be loaded onto the container.

The shipping container didn’t arrive until 11:30 a.m.  The guys started loading up right away.  Of the four guys we hired, only three did any work, so Eddie had to help out.  It’s a good thing he is an excellent packer!

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Loading the container.

Loading the container.

It was a bit stressful with the delays and the one mover guy who wanted to stand around, B.S. and not do any work.  That guy would distract the other guys.  Meanwhile, I was fussing at them all to be careful with certain boxes they were tossing around.  Eddie had to calm me down a couple of times as it was apparent that I was about to freak out.  I think the movers were all glad they were not married to me!  They were really feeling sorry for Eddie.

The container is loaded.  sheets of plywood and load lock bars secures everything in place.

The container is loaded. Sheets of plywood and load lock bars secure everything in place.

Eddie is closing the container doors and puts on the seal.

Eddie is closing the container doors and puts on the seal.

It ended up taking a little over three hours to load the container.  The driver was really nice and she didn’t charge us extra…perhaps because she was late.  She drove directly to the port near Norfolk, Virginia and off-loaded the container to the ship.  The ship sailed on Friday, October 16 right on schedule.  We were told it would take between three and four weeks for our stuff to arrive at the warehouse in San Isidro de General in Costa Rica.  That includes time in customs.  All of the things to be installed in the house will get transported to the property as we need them, and the rest will remain in the warehouse in San Isidro until the house is finished.