Before we moved to Congo we send out cards to all of our family and friends announcing that we were going to move to Pointe Noire in The Republic of Congo also known as Congo-Brazzaville not to be mistaken with The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) or also known as Congo-Khinshasa!
Confusing right? YUP!
When we went to city hall in Breda, The Netherlands, to officially emigrate we bumped into the first problem…computers says no….. kinda problem!
Congo was not in their system?! Ok, at this stage my husband and I had a three page excel document with all the things we still needed to do before moving and this one was suppose to be a quick and easy one. Hmmm, so how do we go from here then? My husband asks, as the lady behind the desk clearly doesn’t know what to do now? Well she says it’s not in the computer… so I can’t change your status. We are standing there staring at her, wondering if she is actually serious about this? But yes she is! We advise her to go and speak with her manager and she agrees (JEEZZ YOU THINK???!!). After a long time of us waiting and a visibly stressed out manager it turned out Congo was in their system just under probably one of the confusing other names, pffff ok another box ticked!
So our new address…Roc du Tchikobo, in Pointe Noire (I was actually pleasantly surprised we had an address).
My friends send us a package in November but didn’t tell us about it (as it was suppose to be a surprise). In December I went home for the holidays and they asked if we had received a package? Uhm, no we didn’t? I asked for any kind of tracking number and send it on to my husband who would try to locate the package in Congo. Read; send an employee to all possible post offices to see if the package was there. Surprisingly enough they found the package a few weeks after I returned to Congo (February)….but….there is always a but here 😦
We had to pay….of course…as if my friends hadn’t paid enough on sending this package we had to pay another 75.000 CFA to get the package (+/- 115 Euro’s). But I didn’t care I was so happy that the package was tracked and excited to get it!
Our first “mail” in Congo! The box was big and looked awful, all banged up and the smell that came out of the box….. it was sooo bad! After opening the box I soon realized that a bunch of mice (including a dead one) must have had quite the party in our box! Everything food related was eaten = trash, all the presents were eaten by mice and had poop all over it so…. also trash, lastly the cards and drawings made by my friends children were impossible to read and smelled even worse so again…. trash! From this moment on we told everyone back home not to bother sending us anything!
April 2014, lots of commotion at my gate! Armand, our security guard came running towards the house he was really excited! All the guards from the houses next to us where there, our gardner Fidel and some other locals I had never seen before. All surrounding this one men with a big Yellow bag…….
I was getting really excited too and tried to calm Armand down, so he could tell me what was happening? Well, he said this is a very special man and he has letters in his bag, he has come to give you one! ……….OMG REALLY? You mean like a mailman? Now I got just as excited as they were, as this was sooo special! My youngest daughter doesn’t even understand the concept of mail as she spend most of her life in Africa!
It is hard to explain our excitement but it almost felt like winning the lottery I guess (although I have never won a lottery). I had to sign four different documents first, but…. then he handed the letter over to me, I felt like I was given something really special……. like a letter from city hall in Breda, The Netherlands stating the adjusted value of our house back home! NOOOOOO, SERIOUSLY OF ALL THE MAIL YOU CAN GET….I GET THIS????? You, city of Breda, didn’t even have Congo in your system, but have somehow figured out a way to send me mail???? Oh man the disappointment, that I had to hide from all the eyes that were still on me and my oh so very special letter! 🙂
I guess my sister in law never got the message not to send us packages as she did send us a package a year later……
My husband received a letter at work stating this was the last attempt for him to pick up some packages at the post office or they would be destroyed (he never received anything prior to this letter). So after work he went by the post office and yes there were two packages from my sister in law; a big box and a smaller envelope. Of course he had to pay to get them, this time it wasn’t so cheap as the last time. My husband took it upon himself to go through all the packages at the post office this time. He found a package with the heart medication that was send via DHL-express for a friend of ours (who had left Congo two months prior) and he also found another package from friends of ours! So all in all a worthy trip to the post office! I must have forgotten our first “package-incident” as again I was super excited especially about the Big box! Before opening them we send a selfie of the packages and us to my sister in law with the biggest smiles on our faces! The envelope had some gifts for the kids in it and then…. I started opening the big box…..hmmmm lots of Avon products? I mean A LOT, 50 plus body lotions, women’s underwear, 50 bottles of perfume, lots of make up? I was confused and excited at the same time. My husband took another picture of me surrounded by all these beauty products and send it to his sister to thank her! Her reply was a question mark?…..hmmmm do you mean you didn’t send this box? NO, she didn’t! But all your details were on the form stuck to the box…..?
I mean even the box was a Budweiser box so we just assumed……lesson learned never assume anything in Congo!
My husband ran to the garbage to take out the other envelope and guess what: They had photocopied the bill from the envelope and instead of 1 kilo added an 8 at the end and stuck it on this random box. So at the post office it seemed logical, all the details were correct, box was around 18 kilo’s it kinda made sense! But I guess they just wanted to make some fast cash by selling of “old” packages! TIA
We kept the package as there is no point in going back and trying to fight this, you pick your battles when you live here. International women’s day was coming up so we distributed beauty-gift-bags to all the Congolese women!
So here we go, one last reminder: DO NOT SEND US ANY MAIL OR PACKAGES AS LONG AS WE LIVE IN CONGO! Merci!!