Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Our Bolivian Address

A few years back I posted a blog about sending us letters/cards/packages.  Just in case any of you are interested in sending us anything, I thought I'd write again a little about that and give you our address.  First things first, here's our address:

Joe and Denise Holman
Cajon 6762 
Cochabamba, Bolivia

It's not expensive to send us cards and letters, but I think that most people don't think of it or understand how meaningful it is for us to get them in the mail.  I hope this doesn't sound like a pity party, because it's not meant to.  We got only one Christmas card from the USA for Christmas.  Our friend, Tim, in the UK sent us all Christmas presents and a Christmas card as well. Since we've been back, we have only received letters/packages from the usual suspects:

  • load and loads of packages from Tim in the UK, 
  • some packages of books (in English...YEA!) from our friends, Tim and Andrea Donnelly
  • birthday cards faithfully sent from the missionary and/or youth groups at Purcellville Baptist Church 
  • our one lone Christmas card from Trudy Wright that I carry in my Bible.  
A huge thank you to all of you who have taken the time, effort, and expense to send us cards or packages in the mail.  They mean more than you know or could understand.  When I spoke this past year to the missionary support group at Purcellville Baptist Church I tried to explain to them how much their birthday cards mean to us.  I couldn't do it without crying.  Whenever we come home with a card the kids know that it's a birthday card from PBC because that's all the mail we get and they are SOOOO excited to see/read/keep those cards.

Like I said, cards and letters are not expensive or hard to mail....just take them to your local post office and ask them how much it will cost (generally about $1).  As far as sending packages, there are a few things you should know before you decide to do it.  First of all let's get the ugly part out of the way:  It's expensive.....mind-blowing expensive.  Bolivia doesn't accept the 'flat rate boxes' that give you a better price for mailing packages internationally.  Since we obviously aren't here with the US government or the military we don't have an APO.  So, it is costly to mail us around $80 for a small to medium sized box.  If it is in a box and/or weighs more than 2 kilos (4.4 pounds) we have to pay taxes on the package on this end and that can be very pricey as well.  We know someone who had a package of chocolate chips mailed to them.  Between what the chocolate chips cost originally (around $10....a really big bag), the cost to mail them (around $40) and then the taxes on this end (highly accessed at almost $40), we all joked that they were a $100 bag of chocolate chips and we weren't far from wrong.  You see, the customs office can access the tax at whatever they want.  We have friends who recently received a package from the USA and they were asked to pay $200 in taxes on its contents of pepperoni, chocolate chips, baby clothes, Funyuns, Doritos, and other such items.  The other bad news about packages is that after you go to all the trouble to pick out the things you think we'd like and pay the large amount of money it takes to mail them, sometimes they just don't make it to us.  Sometimes they are stolen.  Sometimes they are lost.  Sometimes who knows?  

The absolute best way to get things to us is to simply get on an airplane and bring it down yourself.  :>) That way it gets here for sure and we don't have to pay taxes on it.  

So, you say, what about DHL or FedEx?  DHL is the only shipping company that ships to Bolivia.   Here's a little story of shipping something that way.  When we were packing up to move back to Bolivia Joe had a plastic tub (one of those 21 in. x 15 in. x 15 in. ones) full of 50 pounds worth ministry equipment that he wanted to ship back instead of taking up a whole suitcase with the stuff.  He called them to ask how much it would cost to ship it from DC to Cochabamba.  Dare to guess how much?  $800!!! Tim has shipped us those same tubs from the UK and I don't THINK he paid that much (or else he loves us more that we even realize).  Also, he's been thoughtful enough to ask us what taxes we had to pay on the tubs and he send us the money.  (Way to go Tim!)  Anyway, as you can see, you probably don't want to send anything this way....although it does get here for sure....even if we do have to get an importers license to get a package of tea, but that's another story (you can probably find it on Joe's blog from around early 2009).  See what I mean about bringing it down yourself on a plane:  You can bring yourself plus 100 pounds of stuff for a little less than $1000 generally.

Now before I have fully discouraged you from sending anything, let me give you the good news and the best news.  The good news is that the best way to mail us anything is in those big padded envelopes.  We have gotten almost every single one of those that has been mailed (and Tim has mailed close to 100 if not over 100).  Also, as long as they weigh less then 2 kilos (4.4 pounds) we don't have to pay any taxes on this end.  That's the good news, here's the best news.  The best news is that packages make a couple of missionaries and their kids ecstatically happy.  :)  In fact we had a family here visiting us when we received some packages from Tim.  They saw how happy we were to get a package.  So now, the Holsinger family has decided to start mailing us one of these a month in order to be a blessing to our family.  They just let us know this week that they have mailed their first one.  YEA!  We are all anxiously awaiting its arrival.  

So there's a quick....or not so quick...synopsis of send us mail.  In closing, here's are some pics of the us opening some of Tim's recent packages so you can see the joy they bring.


Jeanette Cole said...

Hey Denise - do you have a list somewhere of your favorite things (things you like to arrive in the packages)? Like, I'm pretty sure you like Starbucks, but any certain variety?

Stumbler said...

For Denise. Go to Target & buy Dark Chocolate Espresso trail mix. She will love you forever!

For Joe. Starbucks House blend. I send ground but he has a grinder. Also partial to.... oh loads of stuff!

Denise... lets hope you get all that US stuff which I can't source! (Though you may yet be surprised!)