Image: http://atarde.uol.com.br/bahia/materias/1455694-correios-mantem-atividades-com-apenas-40-dos-funcionariosWhat an exciting week! We don't get much in the mail here. In the US there were days that I could hardly get my mail out of the mail box because it was so jammed full of flyers, grocery store advertisements, bills, magazines, and whatever else. Here, we get next to nothing. We might get a bill once a week at the beginning of the month (when the bills are due), but that's it. So you can imagine my excitement about receiving 3 packages in the mail this week!
1. Replacement battery. My cell phone battery started acting up in January. My phone would power down and refuse to turn on, and would go from having 50% power to nothing all of the sudden. When I lived in the states, I probably would have just gone to Verizon and requested an upgrade to a new phone. Or better, I never would have been in that situation because I would have already received a new upgraded phone on the one year anniversary of my contract. But in Brazil, we repair and get new parts, and the earth thanks us. Unfortunately, my phone is not a super popular model here, and I was told that I could not find a replacement battery in Brazil. Bummer. I decided to try shopping online, even considering having a battery shipped to the US and then delivered to Brazil by a visitor. But then I found the website batteryupgrade.com. I found my battery (or at least a Chinese version), and I could pay in Reais, and reviewers said that they had indeed received batteries in Brazil. I ordered on January 31st, and it arrived March 25th. They ship it as a gift (from Singapore), so that is how (I think) I was able to get it without paying taxes. Plus it was valued under R$30. Yay!
2. Replacement end cap for our AeroPress coffee maker. This little coffee device is amazing. It's fairy inexpensive, small, and can make even bad coffee taste decent. But unfortunately we lost the end cap. I think it accidentally got thrown away with the used grounds. I had a friend who was willing to bring me one from the US, but since the part is shipped from Canada it wouldn't make it to Arizona by the time this friend was returning to Brazil. I called the company, and a very friendly man named Dave assured me that they had successfully shipped to Brazil, and it would probably come in 6 to 8 weeks. And it did!
3. Package from my parents with birthday presents!!! This is the best by far. My mom has learned how to send packages: indicate that the value is less than $50 USD, and write things like books on the content list. I almost cried when the mail man brought it.
So why is this such a big deal? I have heard many stories about expats who have not received packages, or who have had to pay exorbitant taxes to get their stuff. So it's seems like a gamble to have things shipped to Brazil. With the first 2 items, I was desperate, so I figured it was worth it. If the items didn't come, I'd be out about R$50, but it was worth the risk. Thankfully, the risk paid off. And (knock on wood) we've actually received almost all of the items I've had shipped. The only thing I never received was a book I ordered within Brazil, and that was during our first year, and I just gave up trying to talk to someone at the company to get it or get my money back (chalk that one up to bad Portuguese). What about you? Do you have any stories about receiving packages?