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The Aduana Experience

ARGENTINA | Sunday, 14 July 2019 | Views [554] | Comments [2]

My favorite sign: No customs, no nation.
Workers are not the problem, they are part of the solution.

My favorite sign: No customs, no nation. Workers are not the problem, they are part of the solution.

July 11th 2019


We sent our camping stoves from Florida to Buenos Aires ahead of our flight, because we wanted to make sure they get there! Reason why: Our camping stoves had been taken from us at the airport in Buenos Aires when we flew back to the States 5 years ago...TSA deemed the empty of fuel, super clean stoves dangerous and there was no arguing about it. They took them without giving us any other options except for missing our flight.

So now we payed close to $60 for our precious (for us), antique Svea Stoves to be send by snail mail - seems like a reasonable assumption they would get to their destination, since we also had a reliable address in Buenos Aires, AR. 

The track number on line showed us a rapid arrival in Buenos A..only a few days after they were sent and a day after our arrival in the city ourselves. Now all we had to do was wait at our friend’s house to receive the package in the mail....or at least a notification.

Checking the whereabouts of our package daily, we noticed it wasn’t moving anymore and seemed to be stuck in Aduana (customs). One day, 2 days, 3 days and 4 days...nothing seemed to happen anymore. Finally I checked on line ....what happens if you send a package to AR...answer: you can kiss that package good bye!

Nobody knows exactly why, but sent boxes (big or small) get stuck in customs here in Argentina and - if you are super lucky - you MIGHT get it months later. If you had sent anything of value: FORGET IT! Argentina seems to be famous for this.

One possibility was to go to the Correo International (thanks Lonely Planet to suggest that this is where the package most like is held), hope that our box with the stoves is actually there.

We went right away, armed with a native speaking and friendly local and so the story begins:

One other problem was, the package had only our friend’s name on it, so she wrote a letter, explaining that the item belongs to us and we are authorized to pick it up. We also had our passports and a photograph of her passport as well as the original paper with the tracking number from the USA post office. 

We took a number and waited at the Correo ..probably 1 hour and 1/2..pretty busy place.

Lots of Spanish, lots of explanation, lots of paper, lots of questions...finally we got pointed in the direction of the Aduana (luckily in the same building, across the hall)...waited another 1/2 hour. A lot of the crowed consisted of guards at each door except at the Consultas - nobody there!

There we were told we need to come back tomorrow, early and go straight to the Aduana, not to the Correo.

Fine, got up early..this time it was just James and I (since our helpful person had to work), still armed with all the paperwork (we got more forms from the Prost office) and hopeful that some worker bees there will remember us from the day before. No such luck! The guard said we HAVE TO GO to the post office first...take a number and wait...I was persistent and said: No!! We were told to go straight to the Customs desk and that is where we gonna go! Arguing back and forth speaking half German, half English and a little Spanish, he insisted we stand in line for the “priority” at the Correo...which still took more than 1/2 hour. The new clerk asked us the same questions and more,  like the woman the day before. I pointed to her and informed him: we already cleared everything up with her yesterday....to no avail...He had to do it his way, but filled out THE SAME PAPER (so now we had two of the same from different clerks)The most difunctional bureaucracy I have ever experienced right in front of my eyes...


We were sent back to Aduana for a stamp and a signature - this time we had to get a number...six digits ....and look at the monitors hanging from the ceiling to wait for our turn....

took 1 hour and 1/2 again until our number finally showed up. Again we explained to the new person what we were up to, but we really had some “workable” papers (which ever ones they were, I couldn’t keep them straight anymore), because this time things went pretty quick: we got a stamp and a signature and were sent back to the Correo for payment. Back to the “priority” line we waiting another 30 minutes - got the same clerk and were informed to pay 140 pesos (about $3). We payed and then got sent back to Aduana with the paper of our payment...I lost it at this point! I got my Spanish together as much as possible but all I needed was one word: PORQUE?????? He knew straight away what I meant ...with a bit of a smirk he raised his shoulders and sent us on our way across the hall to the Aduana - hopefully for the last time AND THEN we received our package! We had to open it to show the content and then go to the guard by the door who checked to content again and asked if I was Marisa (our friend who’s name was still on the package) - I just said “yes” (without showing my ID), took the package and we left the building after 4 hours of dealing with the most obscure lines of action to get a package which didn’t have any valuable (except for us) or hazardous contents. On the way out I asked the door guard at the main building: PORQUE ??? He also knew and gave me the smirk with the shoulder action...

Maybe they are all just happy to have a job and don’t care what they do...or they feel they are actually doing something important. Their posture ..their whole demeanor underlined the importance of this circus - to be there in dreamland of efficiency. I will never know...

And if you found yourself bored reading the listings of action we had to go through, then, forgive me, I HAD TO WRITE IT DOWN! It felt like Christmas holding the package.

It was probably illegal to take photographs, but I got my share of entertainment ....

...and the obvious reward!



What a nightmare!

  Anne McClain Jul 14, 2019 2:27 PM


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