26 October, 2017

Just What Do You Ship Down Here?

A lot of people use shipping companies to bring their household goods down to Belize when they first move here. Have you ever thought you'd be using them to ship one or two items at a time down for you? Well, you probably will. Most of us do.

Of course, just about everyone uses friends, relatives, and acquaintances, to bring the odd item stuffed in their suitcase when they come down, but that's iffy, usually because you might not have willing someone coming down when you need to have that widget brought down.

It's a good idea to develop a list of shippers that you like and feel comfortable using. Some specialize in near-weekly shipping of small items, others are, more or less, specialists in large, heavy items, such as gensets, motors, etc., and still, others are good for shipping everything else and doing on a monthly basis. You'll learn from folks and from your own experience, who does what, and who you're comfortable using.

Some shippers are their own customs brokers or have brokers they work with regularly. Some shippers take care of all the paperwork for you, while others will provide you a folder of paperwork. It kind of depends on your comfort level.

There are shippers who deliver right to your door, while others may have a warehouse that you have to go to and retrieve your goods. And, every now and then, you get the experience of dealing with brokers directly and the fun experience of dealing with the Belize Port Authority and that whole process. It's worth doing one time so you can see what's involved and how much value there might be in having someone else do all the work for you - for a price, of course.

It's unusual for us to have a lot shipped down in any one month. But, because of Hurricane Irma, and a nearly simultaneous expiration of our credit card, and the saga of getting replacement cards down here, we ended up with a backlog of stuff that we needed/wanted to have shipped down.

I thought this would serve as a good example of some of the stuff that we have shipped down. Mainly, because, it's 1) simply not available here, or 2) it might take you a month of Sundays to track that particular item down and to find who sells it.

Here's our online shopping for a couple of months, just so you have an idea of how we tend to do things down here. Like I said, most of this stuff is the kind of thing that is not easy to find here. Sometimes, it becomes a question of how much time do you want to spend to track down some small item, or just spend the money and get it quick. For some necessary repair items, there's no question. For others, availability, and ease of getting an item tend to rank high.

Two things are left over from the last shipment. They arrived too late to make it into the Easy Shipping to Belize container. A new printer and a printer cartridge refill kit.

First, our new HP printer to replace my old HP printer that died after about seven or eight years of use.
Our New Printer
Not so much that it died but, well, yes,... It died. It refused to recognize that the magenta cartridge was full of ink. No matter how many magenta cartridges I inserted, it refused to believe me. With this printer, once it thinks one cartridge is bad, it won't allow you to print, even just using black ink. It becomes a brick fast.

Second, a new printer refill kit, as the new printer takes different cartridges than the old one (of course).
Refilling the Printer
As much as possible, I refuse to pay the exorbitant prices for new printer cartridges, when it's easy to fill your own. Something I've been doing for many years with no problems.

Here's the other stuff that we've got coming.

A new voltage controller for the solar pool heater. What this does is keeps the direct current voltage from the solar panel at 12 volts so that the pump motor doesn't burn up.
Voltage Controller
The old one, for whatever reason, gave up the ghost. More than likely impossible to repair.

Since as we head into fall, the heater could be in use already. So, it's important that it come down here quickly. As a result, this is the one thing that's coming down via 'You Have Mail.' (http://usbelizeexpress.bz/). They airmail stuff weekly, and for small items, and/or stuff that is time-critical, you can't beat them.

Everything else is coming via Easy Shipping to Belize, LLC, (https://www.facebook.com/easyshippingtobelize/), and their monthly containerized shipping. Easy Shipping delivers your stuff literally right to your door.

Both companies take care of customs, fees, and taxes for you, so it's more like regular shopping. To appreciate what a convenience that service is, go ahead and ship something, large or small, through Hyde Shipping, for example.

Once you get the item to Hyde, they ship it down to Belize for you. Then you have to go down to Belize City and go through the rigamarole of dealing with the Belize Port Authority, and Belize Customs, find yourself a customs broker, then you still need to get the item from the Port to your home. For a small item, that's no big deal. But, if you've got something large and/or heavy, you also have to find a trucking company to haul it for you. I've really simplified this process description. Dealing with the Port and Customs can easily take the better part of a day. It's a lot easier to let Easy Shipping or You Have Mail, or whatever company you choose, to do it for you.

Next, is a cordless vacuum, so that Karen, our housekeeper, can clean sliding door tracks, and other stuff like that.
Vacuum
Dust is not an unknown quantity down here, and I suspect that if we don't keep it out of the tracks, the sliding door wheels and such will simply wear down just that much faster. Our preventive maintenance program at work.

Then comes an e-reader for me to replace an older than dirt iPod.
My New Reader
It has stopped working entirely. The iPod used iOS 6.3, and could not be upgraded to any newer OS. The current iOS is 11.3. That gives you some idea of its age. So, it's more than ready to be replaced.

And a pair of water-resistant work boots for our caretaker, Carlos. Kind of a Christmas present for him.
Work Boots
Then comes an (I hope) very lightweight pair of Bluetooth headphones.
Headphones
I love my current Bluetooth headphones, but they are way too hot to wear over the ears during the summer. Sweat city. In-ear phones and sweat - Eeuuwwww. I won't even consider in-ear headphones.

What I want is a very light-weight on-ear pair that I can use and that won't cause me to generate a river of sweat.

There's also a new 'bumper' for Huey, our automatic pool vacuum cleaner. The old one has worn out and is cracked and beginning to worry me.
A New Bumper
Huey looks a lot like this old household vacuum, and the bumper is more or less in the same place as the orange bit.

Lastly, our main pool pump has developed a leak in the housing. A crack that only becomes apparent when it's running and pressure builds up.
Pump Housing
I've tried all sorts of things to get it to stop leaking. Nothing has worked so far. So, I'm replacing the housing. I'll keep my fingers crossed on that.

The thing that is cool with all this process, other than that you have someone else doing the work of getting it to you, is that when it arrives, it's like Christmas in July - or whenever it shows up. That's always fun.

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