Saturday, September 1, 2012

Pack it Up

I hope you enjoyed my introductory post. Thanks to all of those who commented and emailed me. I appreciate it a lot, so feel free to contact me anytime.

My first week here I've been tasked with what would seem like a simple job by Julie: finding a car. On St. Kitts it's not that simple, and I have spent a lot of time test driving, calling, haggling, and crawling under cars.

The good news is that I found and bought a car. The bad news is that Julie has now tasked me with finding a place for us to rent and stay. Ross University payed for a rental car for us for a week and provided a house for us for a month. Find car- check; find apartment- next priority. Searching for a car here is going to make a fantastic post, but first I want to tell you about our move to St. Kitts and how we managed to bring Julie, our 11 year old cat--our only child--and myself from the U.S. to where we are now.

Ross University has been wonderful helping us move to St. Kitts. As part of Julie's contract, they provide her with a set yearly travel allowance and are paying for most of our moving expenses. That's immeasurable in terms of value. I absolutely hate moving because my whole life I was always helping people move. My father always had a truck, or I did, so guess who they called? Me. When I found out we had movers I was estatic because I never had that before. Wow!

So the plan was that Ross University was going to pay a moving company to come to our apartment with a  20 foot container, pack everything we owned, and load it into the crate. Then they would truck it to Miami, and on a ship it would go.

About a month later our container would arrive, and we'd be set. It sounds simple, but it is never as simple as it sounds. Julie and I brainstormed and decided that we didn't really have much furniture that we were sentimental about or that was of much value, and almost every apartment in  St. Kitts comes fully furnished. We sold some of the furniture and sent Julie's piano to her mother because Julie, the "boss" at least most of the time, decided that we'd just fill our container with "toys."  Guess what? I'm a guy, so I'm great with that idea. We men love our toys, and I could easily fill a dozen containers with toys.

Our first decision or thought was "well, what kind of toys?" Julie, who keeps an amazingly balanced budget, reminded me that in the U.S. we were spending a tremendous amount of money on our cars and gasoline. We did our research, and we decided scooters would be perfect for St. Kitts, which is around 20 miles long and 5 miles wide.

A business on the island, Ride St. Kitts,  rents scooters and recommended Yamaha Zumas, tiny 50cc scooters that are very reliable. I thought scooters sounded like fun, and once Julie has an idea she's like a hurricane, an extremely efficient one. Julie secretly drove 2 hours to West Virginia with her two horse trailer and boght a used Yamaha Zuma for a little under a thousand dollars. Eventually we found another scooter for her and bought it too. Now we have matching scooters. Anyway, to make a long story even longer, we drove the scoots all over Western Pennsylvania for about a month before we had to pack them up in the container.

Julie's family is also into sailing, so I just haphazardly said, "Man, wouldn't it be cool to take a small boat down there?" I had a 12 foot fishing boat at my parent's farm, but Julie decided as true sailors do that the only way to boat is with a sail. She talked to her parents, and the next thing I know I'm welding together a tiny trailer for the smallest sailboat I'd ever seen--an eight foot long Naples Sabot sailing dinghy that her family had for years.

The next step in the moving process was an employee from the moving company had to come and assess how much stuff we had to make sure it would fit in a 20 foot container. We didn't have much stuff, so he determined it would all fit, even the two scooters, but when Julie told him about the boat, he said "Well it should all fit, but you may have to pay extra to get a 40 foot container."  No way man! He hadn't seen the boat, so that was kind of understandable, but a 40 foot container? That's freaking huge! He left and the moving company contacted us with the date they'd move our belongings. They would pack and wrap our stuff two days before we left and the next day load it into the container, and everything would be good to go.

The day finally came, and two movers arrived. The only odd thing was that they had a moving truck and no container. I thought maybe they use it for the first day to haul all the boxes and stuff and the second day bring the container. Nope, I was wrong. They said because the scooters needed to be put in custom built crates they would put our stuff in the truck, take it to Pittsburgh, and then move the belongings into the sea crate there.

The second day we found out there was a miscommunication between the main office in St. Louis and the local company. We had to quickly send copies of the titles to St. Louis because apparently the assessment guy noted our scooters under kitchen supplies, so they were missed. Julie and I both insisted that we were not sending our stuff without the scooters. We straightened everything out, the movers packed everything--and I mean everything--extremely well, including the sailboat, and were off. It felt weird watching them carry everything out while I just watched. Cool, I could handle that.

As of now, our container is somewhere between Pittsburgh and St. Kitts. I think we can track it but I haven't looked into it. When it arrives, in around 3 weeks, We'll both be like kids at Christmas, until scrooge, in this case customs, decides what we have to pay them for tax. I've heard varying stories, but we'll see. We will hire an agent or middle man to help clear our belongings in customs. As soon as the container arrives I'll keep you up to date on how everything goes. This entire process has been long, different, but on the other hand incredibly convenient.

Since I got carried away in this blog, I'll write the next one on our actual flight and arrival. Thanks for reading, and don't be afraid to comment and contact me. Anyone who lives in St. Kitts please recommend the blog to friends, students, or anyone who wants to read about some interesting happenings in the Caribbean.