On Thursday evening of last week I received a message from Judith at the Columbia La Paz office with the good news that the shipment had been inspected and all contents had been judged to be customs free. However, another 3 or 4 working days would be required for submitting the paper work to Banjercito. Then she presented me with the choice of either waiting the extra few days or paying the full customs duty on the shipment and having it put on the truck for La Paz the next day.
To me it was an extraordinary question. I don't do business that way. I was also annoyed at being presented with this choice on the night before the truck was to leave San Diego. This is the bulk of my response:
"I know that money and time can both be important but to me principles are even more important.
Your good news confirmed that everything can be imported temporarily as I would have expected because I have fulfilled all of the conditions for a temporary importation. On principle I will not consider waiving that right because a few days might be saved.
Please do not put the engine on that truck tomorrow. See the normal temporary importation process through. All I ask is that you keep me informed on what to expect. From my understanding of your message I would expect the engine in La Paz next week, correct?"
The next day I briefed Neil and soon he was on the telephone to Judith explaining that the Banjercito paper work could have been done before the engine had even arrived in San Diego, so why were they tacking it to the end of the process?
I went into the weekend expecting it to arrive late the next (this) week.
Then on Wednesday night I received a message from Judith stating that there was some sort of problem with Customs and the paperwork and that her boss had explained the situation to Neil. Early yesterday afternoon after returning from the delivery of Estelle to the Dockside transporter I went to see Neil at his office. Neil had in fact not spoken with Judith's boss but was working on the problem when I walked in and made a phone call to the customs agent at Columbia in San Diego.
From what I understand a person from Columbia had presented my papers to Banjercito in Tijuana the day before and was told that the permit could not be given - with no explanation. The Columbia customs agent contacted the head of Mexican customs in Tijuana to find out what was going on and was told that inquiries would be made and a meeting was set up between the two for the next day, at about the time that I had visited Neil's office.
Neil passed on some information that he had picked up from the conversation. The management of the customs office in Tijuana had changed about two weeks earlier and since then there had been problems with permits not being issued. I was not the only one with a problem. Shipments were being held up and representations were being made to Mexico City by various organisations and businesses. The problem seemed to be confined to personnel at the Tijuana office.
I felt comfortable about the situation because I had the good fortune of having Neil working on my behalf at this end and Columbia, a large company of some stature at the other end. Neil has been raised in Mexico, speaks fluent Spanish, at one point ran the La Paz harbor, has various business interests, and knows a lot of people. Had I been on my own I don't think that I would have stood a chance.
Later in the afternoon Neil visited the boat twice for my signature to a letter that Columbia had requested. He told me that he would notify me as soon as he learned anything.
In the early evening I received the following message from Neil:
I have just telephoned Columbia's La Paz office and learned that the Volvo engine is not on the shipping manifest. I was speaking with Ada because Judith is in Cabos today. While we were speaking Ada got a confirmation from Judith about Andres's message that the engine would be shipped today. I told Ada that this has been going on for three weeks now and would she be kind enough to telephone the San Diego branch to find out why the engine is not on the manifest. She agreed and I am to call her back in 1 hour.
The roller coaster ride continues.
Brenda's Bird of the Day is a Silky Flycatcher with a name that does not come easily: Phainopepla. There is no photo but if you are from Oz, think of a slim Willie Wagtail with a handsome crest. The males are very shiny black all over and a conspicuous white wing patch can be seen as they fly.