The Final Steps
While there were still some snags to overcome, I left the Customs office feeling that the process was coming to an end, and that there was light at the end of the tunnel. In a way, I had to feel that way as I was leaving for a business trip the next day (from Tuesday through Friday) and was leaving the entire process in the hands of two people -- my customs broker and a friend of mine who promised to be there to allow my stuff to be loaded into our apartment, if needed.
Well, she was needed -- the customs broker did his part, and by Wednesday the contents of the container were cleared by customs and the entire shipment was sent by truck to my new apartment where my friend reported that the broker's company was moving all the contents "gingerly" from the back of my truck into the apartment. I was nervously calling by cell phone from Barbados.
After hanging up with her, I stayed on the phone and called my wife in Washington, DC to let her know that we were at the end of the physical process, to our mutual relief. Now it was just a matter of unpacking boxes and settling into our new apartment.
While the process was at times jarring and surprising one, in retrospect I think that there was much that could have been avoided if I had more knowledge about the entire process from the very beginning. While there are people who ship goods back home frequently, there are relatively few who do so as returning residents, which is a one-time privilege. When I searched the internet for any kind of assistance, I could only find a single shipper that was helpful -- www.jaminco.com -- they had pictures and gave tips on how best to pack a container. This turned out to be useful when we were trying to understand what the helpful mover was telling us about "securing the load."
The only other things I could find on the internet were companies trying to sell, sell, sell without offering any actual help whatsoever (unless that help was to buy.) Mostly these companies were ones that were offering to do everything from end-to-end, by packing the items in the home and unpacking them at the destination.
Of course, the fee for that kind of end-to-end care and responsibility is not a small one.
Most people of modest means who are not having their move to Jamaica being paid for by their large company employer would not select this option, but instead would try to do some of it themselves.
I think that with better planning and more information, there could have been no surprises at all, and the move would have been easier. Hopefully, this series of blogs will help a little in smoothing out the bumps on the trip home -- after all, it's almost every Jamaican's dream to move back and this should not be as much of an impediment as it is.
Incidentally, moving back the physical items is the easiest part of all, I think. Mentally moving back is another thing altogether, and one that I'll be focusing on in blogs to come.