Living in Central America has its pros and cons. Of course, the weather is as close to perfect as one could wish for. The cost of living is still ridiculously cheap, and the people are remarkably friendly but if you operate an online business, the headache of international shipping can sometimes overshadow all the reasons you moved here in the first place and make you plan to run for what you know is secure and reliable. Last week was a shipping nightmare.
EL CORREO GUATEMALA
Since 1997, International Postal Services (IPS), a subsidiary of Canada Post has been running the postal service in Guatemala with a ten year contract funded by a loan from The World Bank. From talking to Expats who live around Lake Atitlan the Canadians had been doing a decent job getting the mail in and out of Panajachel for many years. But, like anything that reeks of privatization and hidden motives, greed and non-transparency, there's more to this story. Read Michael Skinner's article in The Dominion to get the (old) skinny on that shady deal. Not everyone was happy,
Ten days ago the postal service was shut down by IPS because the contract had expired and then a few days later the Guatemalan Government apparently re-opened the doors for ninety days to get things moving while they renegotiate a new deal. OK. The only information I could find out was at Guatex.com and on social media.
POSTAL SERVICE IN PANAJACHEL
What I do know is this: On March 1st I shipped a sculpture to California. It arrived damaged five weeks later. On April 11th the same package was shipped from California to Panajachel for repair. It has not yet arrived seven weeks later.
Last week the Post Office in Panajachel was open sporadically to receive mail that was presumably backed up in Guatemala City but only in dribs and drabs. No outgoing service. This week El Correo Guatemala has been open for business as usual with completely new personnel. I sent two packages today, one to the US and the other to the UK. The parcel to the UK weighed 200g. and cost Q488 (US $63.97).
WHAT THIS MEANS TO MY SMALL BUSINESS
My small, independent company depends upon a reliable mail service. When I learned that this country's mail service had shut its doors, it effectively meant that I was out of business. I went into scrambling mode. I had a beautiful home decor bowl that was paid for and needed shipping and a paper mache sculpture that was (and is) still on the way here to be fixed and reshipped. A veritable nightmare for a small business owner. Its not feasible to ship my work via courier - the costs are exorbitant - no seller would pay. Any way I looked at it I was out of money, but worse, way worse - Paper Prezzies, my pride and joy that I have put my heart and soul into for two and a half years is no longer was over.
ANOTHER LIFE LESSON
Or wait, this is just life isn't it? Three hours after I heard the post office had been shut down I got a three bowl sale from my Etsy shop and I was back in business. This large sale (for me) would garner enough dollars to courier the new package and the bowl-in-waiting and the reshipping of the sculpture I am still waiting for, and new white paint which my favorite tienda (shop) just got in! Never mind that I'd make nothing for my work - artists are used to that! Never mind that Paper Prezzies is still out of business, at least my customers would be satisfied. And as it turns out this is all a non-story. The Correo is in business for at least ninety days. I mailed everything out. Paper Prezzies, like the post office is back in business. May we prosper and grow together!! I'll keep you posted.
If you have an update on the mail system, please let me know.
TOO MUCH GAMES OF THRONES?
I've just found GOT on my computer (I know, a few years late) and I've been binge-watching into the wee hours. When I saw the Baratheon crown I swooned! Here's my variation available in my shop. $43
Another fantasy inspired piece. Work in progress
Imagine a fiery gold interior!!!
Until next month peeps.