Oh what a difference a month makes.
The move is not quite completed, but I look back to what I wrote back then can only marvel at my naivete, and lack of knowledge.
The one thing that I most regret is that there is no source on the internet that right now has any practical help on how to arrange a move back to Jamaica (or any third world country I imagine.) Hopefully this can help anyone how is looking for advice, and hopefully they will actually be able to find it!
There have been constant surprises all along the way, and I've learned a lot about a process I hope never to repeat -- but not because the process is difficult, but because I don't want to ever leave Jamaica to live anywhere else ever again!
The first major surprise came when the twenty foot container arrived.
I had thought that the container was something like the PODS (Portable On Demand Storage Units) I'd seen in people's driveways -- a clean, white metal box that would occupy a single parking space. In fact, on Thursday morning I went cycling in the morning and saw a couple of PODS in the neighborhood... "No problem, I thought."
That was until I saw the huge, metal rusty box arrive at my Emerald Place apartment in Fort Lauderdale ar atound 1 pm or so. It was bigger than I thought, and nowhere near as photogenic as the PODS I'd seen. In fact, it kinda looked like a dumpster on a flat bed carrier, raised about 5 feet off the ground being pulled by a driver (who spoke a little English, thankfully) and his son who was no more than 10 years old.
He quite innocently asked me where I wanted to place the container, and I thought to myself - oh, that's easy -- near to the front of the building, near the elevators. So he pulled it in, sideways, backing it in with his semi, and walked to the back and released the container.
Except, it seemed that he had forgotten to take the carrier with him...
So as he prepares to pull away, my wife and I look at each other in a panic and say "Hold on, is he leaving it like that???"
Well, apparently he was.
There was the container, on a carrier, sitting 5 feet above the ground, in the parking lot of my apartment complex... looking as if it had no business being there parked between apartment 304's Camry and apartment 106's scooter.
Also, we looked at each other and asked "How the heck to we get up that high?" At five feet off the ground, there was no way to get ourselves up that high... not without major gymnastics, a ramp or a lot more help than "Raggedy Rich" and "Dutty Dawg Dacres", my two friends who were coming to help us move. How in the world were we going to get our belongings from my apartment and up and into that thing?
While the driver waited for our next move (he clearly had some a lunch of hot empanadas waiting somewhere for him and his son) a man walks up and asked accusingly "What the heck is that and how long is it going to be there?" I've never seen him before...
I try to explain the situation, throwing in the fact that I was moving back home to Jamaica, and needed to do this to export my belongings. Maybe, I thought, he'd take some pity on poor us and what we were trying to do.
"Four days???!!!! Hell no. This is private property! You can't leave that there! I'm calling the apartment complex, and the fire marshall ,and the police and the coast guard, and...." I don't know what he said next, because I had stopped listening by then as he ranted on, giving me an instant reminder of some of the things I dislike about America.
We ignored him, but realized that we'd better get some permission from the apartment complex before the driver left. With our best hand signals, my wife ran and stopped him, and tried to explain to him using both of the words that she knew in Spanish, that we needed to get permission from the apartment complex to leave the (possibly) offending object in place, which was now taking up 6 parking spaces in the front of building 3, Emerald Place.
He seemed to understand, and she begged him for 15 minutes (his son did some fast interpreting.)
We quickly went over to the office in the hope of warding off a barrage of phone calls from what I thought could quickly turn into a lynch mob, and (too quickly, and out of breath) explained the situation to one of the employees in the apartment office.
She assured us that the office manager would NEVER allow us to leave it where we had.
But, credit to her clear thinking, she called her boss and asked if we could leave it at the back of the complex (about 300 yards away), and if we could get 24 hours to get it off the property. She was very persuasive, which might have had something to do with our panicked looks and generally desperate demeanor.
Her boss relented, and after a quick call to the container company to see if they could pick the container up the following day (Friday) instead of Monday, we at least were now allowed to theoretically pack this 20 foot metal box with all our earthly possessions.
Now... how the heck would we get all those earthly possessions from my second floor apartment, and nice two bedroom with a view of the pool, incidentally, down to the rusty container sitting atop a carried over five feet high, 300 yards away?
Somehow, "Raggedy Rich" and "Dutty Dawg Dacres" didn't seem like the right help for us at 2 pm on Thursday and the clock ticking.
(to be continued)