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|Sunday, March 06, 2011 05:07:20|
Rolls Alaska to Argentina & back: 13 Guayaquil, Ecuador
Wednesday, March 2 to March 6, 2011
After a few days of early mornings and late nights we were ready to leave Costa Rica. Bad news arrived from Ginger Rodriguez of the shipping company in Guayaquil the night before we left - there were a couple of critical errors in the bill of lading. Instead of using the Sheraton as my address the car was consigned to them, meaning only they could pick the car up. It also stated that the car was for import, not in transit.
As soon as offices were open Wednesday morning Marilynn & I were on the phones to the customs brokers and shipper's representatives in San Jose. It was decided that if I took the original bill of lading to the shipper's agent in Guayaquil that they could make corrections to the document.
We then scrambled to catch the 10:30 flight, which was on time and comfortable. At the Guayaquil airport we were met by representatives from Sheraton who drove us to the hotel and had us checking in efficiently - very impressive. I called the shipping office and made arrangements to be in their office first thing the following morning, Thursday. The rest of the day was spent getting supplies at the mall across from the hotel, and arranging a taxi driver for the next day. The rate was to be $10 per hour.
In the morning, Geovanny, was right on time. He accompanied us to the shipper's office, where the documents were corrected. Then came very bad news - the ship was over a day late, and as a result the car could not be cleared this week. Even worse, no one would work from Friday until Wednesday next week, as it is Carnival. The city would be almost deserted, as everyone heads for the beaches.
We walked to a recommended customs agency and gave them the paperwork - but they couldn't start until the car was unloaded from the ship. They said it was very unlikely the car would be cleared by the following week end, so we should count on Monday or Tuesday of the week after next. We were also hit for $325 in clearing charges for the shipper, $200 for the customs agency and would have to pay $125 freight to take the car to/ customs. In addition, the shipper needed a $600 deposit to ensure they get their container back from customs in good shape and then there will be customs charges. The container fee is a new one for me. I've never seen the container, will never touch it and have no way of knowing if it was damaged or not!
They would accept a cheque, for the guarantee, to be held until the container was returned, but we have no cheques with us, only cash, and they don't accept credit cards. If we pay in cash, they will have to process a check after they get confirmation that the container is OK - a process they say takes one or two days, but the customs agent says count on three days. We visited various banks around the area trying to purchase a money order which they could hold and we could cash once it was returned, but no bank sells them. We had to pay cash. It is now looking like we could be here two weeks!!
We were pretty depressed when we returned to the hotel where I got on the internet to look for an apartment to save us hotel bills. The four nights at the Sheraton cost nothing, as I used accumulated point I had with Starwood Hotels, but the cash rate is $150 per night.
Friday morning Geovanny picked us up and took us back to the customs agency to sign a letter, which for some inexplicable reason they were unable to type up while we were there. Eugenia, the customs broker, said that here in Ecuador one must not expect things to move quickly, it is not the custom, and that we should not be pushy! We then went to look at a furnished house that was for rent, but it was miles out of town and when the realtor didn't show up we left. We finally picked the Kennedy Hotel, only a few blocks from the Sheraton, which has a suite with a full kitchen for $70 per night. It was available only until next Thursday night, but by then we'll hopefully have some idea of when the car will be cleared.
Meantime, we wait. Nothing happens in Guayaquil for Carnival - it is all in other cities. According to the newspaper, on Friday 55,000 cars left town through the various highway toll booths. This is our third time here, so we have already seen the few attractions that exist. We just sit, wait and watch the cash reserves diminish.