Shipping in Paradise

Shingle II: Liberated from imprisonment and packing materials

My friends used to laugh at my impatience when I arrived in Costa Rica pumped up on Toronto-time. Every year they’d say the same thing, “Relax slow down, doing one thing a day is enough”. Week two I would settle down and soon after I’d be telling other new arrivals the same thing.

Well, it’s day two and I’m still in San Jose, having just spent the last 24 hours trying to liberate my surfboard from cargo hell. I shipped it due to it’s size and the fact that I could then check a few other things I wanted to bring down. Like a guitar and amplifier, which are exorbitantly priced or impossible to find here.

The surfboard left on the same flight as me. It arrived at the same time. It went to a different facility- off site. I had to give up my ride south to get there. Fine. I had to pay a handling fee. OK. I had to line up for customs documentation. Sure. I had to wait till tomorrow as it wasn’t there yet. Argh.

Day 1 tally: Fly to SJO; Find cargo facility and handling office; Lose ride and go to friend’s hotel= 3 things

The promise and consequences of shipping cargo. Don't try this at home.

This is not just any surfboard. It’s the Shingle II aka The Banana Board. Like the original Shingle it was hand made for me by Halifax shaper and carpenter extraordinaire Greg Baller. Like the original Shingle it’s based on the timeless longboard designs of California surf pioneer Skip Frye, whom I used to watch with awe as he surfed up and down the San Diego coastline. Like the original Shingle I brought it to Costa Rica for it’s maiden voyage, where it stayed to live with friends. I almost wept when I returned to find the Shingle gone. The friends loaned it out, never to be seen again. I now own the house my friends were in. The Shingle II is safe from such a fate.

At 8:30 am this morning I called the cargo facility. Yes, the board was there, come early they said as it gets busy. At 10 am I was sent to customs to register as an importer. In a different building down the street. I paid off the waiting taxi and sent him home. At 11 am I exchanged my drivers license for a security pass and was allowed to inspect my parcel. I thought the end was near. Not so. I went to customs (on-site this time) and paid duties. Surely that was it? The customs agent had a few questions. Why was I importing surfboards? How often would I be doing so? Finally satisfied, the agent told me to visit the cash one more time. “What else could there be?”, I asked. Storage fees of course.

It’s now 3 pm. I’ve missed the shuttle going south, again, but a friend wants to come to the city to visit the Apple store so I’m in luck. Me and the guitar and the amp and the bags and the Shingle II are going to the Apple store and getting a ride home.

Day 2 tally: Go to cargo facility; Go to Customs offices; Go to bonded warehouse; Go to duties, taxes and storage counters; Go to Apple Store; Drive 3.5 hours, Arrive home.

Tomorrow will be better. My car’s at the shop and the mechanic says he doesn’t have the parts or the machinery to fix it.

DAY 3 UPDATE: The Shingle II and company are home safe at Casa Perry. My car has been sent to the closest city, San Isidiro for repairs. I am hitchhiking and getting lots of sun (and rain). Pura Vida baby!

DAY 4 UPDATE: First waves in seven months! The board rides like a dream. Water temp 80 degrees. Life is good.