On Thursday I went to the Post Office in the Centro de Atencion building near el Shopping Center. Joe had ordered some herbal items from the states that we have been unable to find in Salinas or Libertad. They arrived in Ecuador on March 9th and went to customs on March 14th. But when I went in last week to pick up the package it was not there and there was no notification from customs that there was a problem.
I had the forethought this trip to print a copy of the delivery report from eBay and asked the one English-speaking gentlemen to look again for my package. He did and when he did not find it he just told me no it was not there. I asked him to look at the paper I had given him stating that my package has sat in customs since March 14th and should I have had some sort of notification. He asked me to take a seat. I waited about 15 minutes. Long story short, customs is saying that this herbal remedy “hawthorn” is a chemical and not allowed. I could not understand why if the US allows you to buy it, ships it to Ecuador why Ecuador will not allow it and we since found it in Guayaquil during our evacuation trip. I asked what I needed to do to get customs to release my package. It requires a letter from Salud (Health Department) saying that it’s okay for me to have this. So I hoof it down to the Salud office and found a lovely young woman, Belen who embraced me like family and told me that this was not the office that I needed but that she would help me. I explained the situation. After another trip back to the Post Office to get the official reason for not releasing my package she told me that she would write the letter that evening as was required to the Director Provincial de Salud, Doctor Fernando Granados Cerezo. She took a copy of my cedula (Ecuadorian ID) and told me to come back the next morning at 9:30am and she would have it ready. At about 8:15 I get a call from her that the office internet was down and she will call me when she has the letter printed and ready for my signature.
I am amazed each day at the generosity and concern from most of the Ecuadorian people that I meet. I love these people because of how they treat me. A smile, kindness and respect translates from one language to another. If you put a little work into being a good Expat it may make your life and your time in Ecuador happier.
Thank you Belen, your kindness to me is appreciated.
Later on Friday, Belen called me asking a few additional questions and said the letter would be ready in a few minutes. I hopped in a taxi and arrived to find a meeting in progress in her office. Belen was sitting with another gentlemen and he was looking over the herbal catalog that I had given her the day before. Come to find out he is another of the Salud doctors. She printed out the letter she had completed for me and had me sign it, saying that she was going to send me along with the Salud courier to the Director’s office. She would explain to the courier what to tell the director for me. While we were talking her boss came out and she introduced us. After she explained what she was going to do he told her to go with me, take his personal driver and car and take me to the directors office herself. I was amazed at being treated this well, again it was not her job to help me in the first place but to be given the bosses car and driver, I was at a loss for words. We arrived at the directors office and I was introduced to him as Belen explained my situation. He said no problem go back and have the doctor write a letter, he would sign it and I could get it to customs. I was asked to come back on Monday at 10am to pick up the necessary letter.
Here are my new friends:
Staring from top left, Belen’s boss Abogado Marcos Lozada Lucio, Doctor Carlos Ernesto Viteri Poveda, Maria Belen Gonzalez Chong-Qui and bottom row is the receptionist Maria Victoria Qinteros Largacha.
Every day is an adventure and mostly really good ones!