Sometime in the middle of October I realized that I was running out of contact lens cleaner and that item is a critical part of my eye hygiene. Obviously, we had not seen anything that would serve as a replacement here in Morocco – yet.
We had begun a list of such “impossible to find in Morocco” items and the need for lens cleaner motivated us to make a request of my dear sister, Lois, to send us a CARE package from the States.
Vitamin A and D were on that list, as were index cards for learning Arabic. Tomas requested a Parker ball point pen (available at any major super market or big box store – he thought.) At the end of the list, I suggested that Lois use oatmeal as packing material, as we still had found no local source for that staple.
Now, my sister being a full time school teacher was doing this in her “spare time” and what we had thought would take a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon turned into a much larger project. The question came: did we need the A & D together in one capsule, or could they be separate? Getting that straightened out added a couple of days to the shipping date.
But the biggest delay was Tomas’ request for the Parker pen. Being the conscientious sister that she is, Lois had taken it upon herself to order one online, when her diligent search of every major chain store in Tacoma, WA proved fruitless. If she’d asked us, we’d have said “Skip it.” But she was faithful to our list and that added about 10 days to the send-off of the package.
Finally, on Monday the 10th of November, the Priority package left Tacoma bound for Morocco. We estimated two or three weeks in transit.
Meanwhile, I did run out of lens cleaner and discovered that Morocco sells these kinds of products through their optometrists – DUH! It wasn’t the kind of cleaner I preferred but it works and that’s what counts here – something that works.
Also, while our package was making its way to us, we found out that what we had thought was cracked wheat in the souq was actually STEEL CUT OATS!!! Well, fancy that.
We began checking our PO Box after two weeks. Nothing. The end of two weeks arrived and it seemed that we always arrived at the Post Office after hours, during prayer time or it was too rainy to check at all. Thanksgiving happened; we had house guests and torrential rain, so no trips to the PO.
The Monday after Thanksgiving, exactly three weeks to the day of mailing, Tomas found the much-awaited notice in our box. However, it was Monday, one of the busiest days at the Post Office, so he brought the slip home and we made plans to pick up the package on Tuesday.
Now what you need to know about the Moroccan Post Office system is that it serves many other functions besides selling stamps. They are the main processor of welfare claims and benefits, plus they serve Western Union. So most of those in front of us were doing that kind of business, which is not your quick, 3-minute kind of job. Imagine if you had to stand in line behind everyone who was getting their Social Security benefit check, those who received food stamps, disability or welfare payments. It’s kind of like that here.
On Tuesday, when we took the slip to the main lobby, the man who “directs traffic” told us to take a number and wait. We got #207 and they were currently serving #131.
We had some other errands to run, so we went to do those, but we got stuck in another line and Tomas asked me to return to the PO, in case our number was up. I returned after about 25 minutes and they were serving #135. Ugh.
So we sat and waited.
But then I noticed that someone who didn’t have a number received a package at the desk right in front of us. I mentioned this to Tomas and he said he was told to take a number and wait and that’s what he would do. I could hardly believe that this was my husband speaking!
Then another woman took custody of four Avon boxes at the same window and I really began to wonder if we had been advised properly. They had managed to get to #177 by that time — still another 30 numbers to go for us.
So after another 10 minutes or so, I asked Tomas to reconsider his stance and he “approached the bench” with his slip and was told that yes, he could get that processed at this window. When I got up from my chair to stand beside him, I could see the Priority package on the desk behind this man, so I knew my instincts had been correct.
Well, it still took at least another 10 minutes before we had the package in hand but we learned from this and it will go smoother next time.
However, when we saw how much it had cost to send the package, we realized that only in emergencies would we do this again. We can bring a whole suitcase back with us for $60.
Frankly, so much time had elapsed between our initial request and the arrival of the package that it truly felt like Christmas – we had totally forgotten what we ordered and opening the box was almost a complete surprise – except for the pen and the lens cleaner, of course.
BUT — beyond all the items that at the time of our request, we thought we could not get here (and some of them we can’t) we so much appreciated the LOVE BOMB from LOVED ONES, who took the time and spent the money to send us a package from HOME. Bless you guys!
We now understand a little bit how our service men and women feel when they receive even a letter when so far away from the place they call “HOME.” All the LOVE in those boxes of goodies I sent to my son in Okinawa came back to us in such an unexpected, yet palpable way.
And when I asked Lois how much I owed her for everything, her answer was: “Happy Birthday and Merry Christmas.” Dave does look a little like Santa Claus, doesn’t he?
So this is a big pubic THANK YOU and GOD BLESS YOU to my sister, Lois and her wonderful husband, Dave (most likely he mailed the package, as it went out on a school day.) Your support and caring landed in our laps and our lives in a most explosive and much-appreciated way.