Mailing Mishaps and More

25 Apr

After almost two months, I finally received the second box of items I had mailed to me here in Altea Spain after I had gotten a permanent apartment. As I previously detailed, in preparation of the move from California’s Central Coast to Spain, I sold my large house and all its contents, with the exception of family keepsakes, a few travel souvenirs, and my most cherished kitchen items. It is not worth shipping most things, but I am quite attached to certain pans, my kitchen knives and the wooden block that holds them. To that end, before coming to Spain, I packed two boxes; I brought two large suitcases with me on the plane. That was all.


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Marie Sharp’s

Before the second box was packed, I decided to purchase spices and condiments I could not find here in Altea. Most of these were Asian, like fish sauce, black bean garlic sauce, sriracha, sambal, and surprisingly, crushed red chili flakes. Spanish food is seldom spicy, and I crave that taste profile so much that I carry a small bottle of the world’s most delicious hot sauce, Belizean Marie Sharp’s habanero pepper sauce in my purse.


Besides the outrageous shipping rate for mailing my box, (over $300), after several weeks, I feared it was lost as I had heard nothing, and the first box had come quicker, (not quick, mind you.) When the first box arrived, it was gaping open and the postal worker asked me to help carry the box as it was heavy. What??!! A few items were broken and missing-I now only have three of the “big five” animals from my collection from my safari in Africa. Given the shape of the box, I was surprised more items weren’t broken.


With regard to the second box, I finally received a letter from the Spanish post office demanding I download forms from their website, fill them out regarding the exact contents of the box, and provide receipts for the items. In Spanish, I tried to explain that most items were personal and old, with the exceptions of the condiments I could not get here. I subsequently received a demand of about 55€ for tax and other fees to get the box released. That is about the same cost of the condiments. If I had taken off the seals, I may have avoided this fiasco, but I had been worried, they might think I was transporting contents other than what was listed on the bottles. If they were opened, they would spoil, so I left the seals intact so as not to raise any suspicions. After a few more weeks after paying the fee, I received notice my box was now being sent to customs. So I paid the fees, but could still have customs deny my delivery? Such are the frustrations of adjusting to the Spanish bureaucracy.


Taxed condiment and spices

The box finally arrived yesterday. Once again, the postal worker asked me to help carry it. No dolly in sight. The box had been resealed, but once open it was evident the contents had been randomly thrown into it. Even the knives were not put back into their wooden block, protruding every which way. And since I am accident prone, it was inevitable that I would get cut. At least it wasn’t too deep. Once the bleeding stopped, I was able to unpack the contents, wash the dishes as well as the Provençal style napkins and hot pads, and Williams Sonoma t-towels. I experienced the simple joy at having those cheerful Provençal bright blue backgrounds punctuated by vibrant yellow lemons, as well as the thick, quality t-towels.


Now inspired to cook, I decided to make a Caesar salad, as I now had anchovy paste (which I find easier than fresh anchovies) and my immersion blender. I mashed together the garlic, anchovy paste, mustard, egg yolk, and then prepared to gradually blend in the oil. When I turned on the blender, I heard an electrical cracking sound from the outlet, and the blender would not work. That wasn’t all. There was no electricity in my apartment at all. I had used other American appliances with electrical converters without any problems until now. I only hoped I could figure out how to get the electricity back working. I remembered during one of my apartment tours that when the electricity wasn’t working, the realtor went to a small metal box on the wall near the entry door to turn on the electricity. I repeated what I had seen her do, and after flipping all the switches to the same direction, electricity was restored. In every house I have ever owned in California, whether old or new, all the electricity circuit breakers are located outside at very inconvenient spots outside and in the back of the house, making for difficulty in locating or fixing when it is dark or inclement weather. I think the Americans could take a lesson from the Spanish…at least in this regard.


I had difficulty getting the salad dressing to thoroughly blend without the assistance of the hand blender, but it still was tasty, along with the perfectly cooked boiled and peeled eggs, with their perfect soft bright golden orange yolks, with nary a trace of green around them. I am still surprised when I go to a restaurant, and egg yolks are covered with an unappetizing green outer layer. It is incredibly easy to make them without that hideous green. If you don’t know how, let me know, and I will post it. Hint: the key is bringing the water to a boil, shutting heat off, then adding the eggs and covering for the time needed to cook them to your liking.




The arrival on the second box allowed me to get my piso (apartment) up and running in full. I had already covered the gold velour couch and two matching chairs with fundas de sofa (couch and chair covers blue with a little background gold keeping with the Provençal and Spanish color theme) and I covered the pink shellacked side board with Provençal table cloths, blue with lemons, of course.) The same pink shellacked headboard and bedside desks “adorned” my bedroom, so I bought neutral sheets and comforter, and bedcover with a touch of pink to bring the room together. The mattress provided was not to my liking, and given how much time is spent sleeping, I splurged and bought a mattress from an upscale hotel chain, on whose beds I have always slept well. It was well worth it. My apartment here in Altea does not begin to compare with the home or furnishings California, but I am quite content here. The neighborhood, views and people can’t be beat.


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Pepper: local celebrity

And now Pepper and I am heading out to buy a new immersion blender in the hopes of rehabilitating my pathetic Caesar dressing, and then heading to the beach for the beautiful weather and view, a tasty two course menu del dia, and later cavorting with friends.

2 Responses to “Mailing Mishaps and More”


  1. Quirky and Different Customs in Spain | Starr Treks - February 6, 2016

    […] have also previously mentioned the multiplicity of problems I have had in receiving packages sent from the U.S. One box arrived gaping open, with items missing. Then the postman asked me to help carry it […]

  2. Is There Customer Service in Spain? | Starr Treks - November 11, 2016

    […] “atención al cliente,” from the lexicon. I have previously recounted my problems in receiving packages with my personal belongings from California. When I first reported no monetary value for the old […]

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