I realized that I completely forgot to tell an amusing chunk of the Fića's arrival story! Let's hit the rewind button and return to December 2010, when the Fića's ship had just docked...
However, no progress could be made before customs did an inspection of my car and its container. This being the government, the moment they decide to do the inspection is as predictable as a coked-up squirrel...
Eventually, I get an email from the shippers: it passed inspection! I now had a week to get my ride out of there before the port began charging me storage fees... Usually, a week would be plenty of time to finalize paperwork that I've prepared in advance anyway – except this was the end of the year, a period notorious for lots of days off...
I got this email on a Wednesday afternoon. The ensuing Monday was a holiday. Thus, I phoned customs (to get the car cleared) the next morning (Thursday).
That went something like this:
"Yeah, sure, you can come down. Just so you know, we close at noon today [it was just after 10:30], we're closed on Friday, and don't open again until a week after Monday."
Some more perspective: the phone call was the first thing I did when I got up...I also live a solid half an hour away from their office.
You know those days that randomly start with a bang? This was one of those.
Arrived with 10 minutes to spare. Papers signed and stamped. The customs officer informed me that I could now arrange dock clearance through the shipping company.
Turns out that the port now won't release your container until the shippers pay them a fee, which of course comes out of your pocket.
High-tailed it to the shipping firm's office to sort out this additional clearance that nobody mentioned before. Found out that there's another surprise: the port doesn't do unloading on site, hence I had to arrange drayage too! Went for lunch. Realized that I had six days left now, only three of those being business days.
Later during the day, I found a good trucking company complete with their own warehouse. Perfect! We met the next day to finalize things with the manager...
The dreyage/unloading cost would depend on how much the car was lashed down. Since it was on a boat during winter, it traveled through restless seas and overall harsher conditions. As such, the manager expected it to be lashed down a lot.
I showed him a pic of the container's insides, taken just before it was sealed. His response? "It's almost not tied down at all! I honestly hope we don't find the car laying on its side..."
At least it'd be cheap to unlash... Plus, they were going to take care of the empty container for me, and were able to accommodate my job the next work morning. More papers were signed, and we were set.
Fast forward to the following Tuesday morning, with one more day of free port storage to spare. My contact (the manager) says there's a huge lineup at the port causing a two-hour delay.
No matter...there was a Starbucks nearby. (click here to continue the story)