Way back when I was dreaming up this little adventure of mine, I knew i would need things like trekking shoes & warm clothing when i arrived in the himalayas. I am lazy by nature & didn’t want to carry around more stuff than I needed, so i hatched a plan to have my lovely ( and perfect in every way) sister send me a package in nepal. I looked online & sure enough there were very simple instructions on how to send a package to a person abroad. It’s called Poste Restante and all major post offices have a Poste Restante section. What the internet doesn’t tell you is how to retrieve your package.
Walking into the main post office in kathmandu is like stepping back in time, like to 1905. It’s dark, there is one long desk and 2 employees. It smells of old paper & urine. Behind the desk the are a series of doors. I ask for “poste restante” they gesture to one of the doors behind the desk. I find the Poste Restante “room” and in it there is old office equipment, bags of what i presume is trash, a desk, and all sorts of postal flotsam & jetsam. I ask someone to help me & a surly man points at a small bin with some letters. “poste restante is there” he says, pointing at the small letter bin. To which I say, “package? ” he wobbles his head, shrugs his shoulders & walks away. hmmmm. I find another employee, more helpful this one, and he says “you must know how the package was sent”. “Airmail from the USA” , i say. Oh, you must go to room 32. Room 32 is in another building. I find room 32, & they tell me to look through the log book which is a tome, but there it is, on one of the ancient pages, in curly script, MY NAME! success. well, not quite. Seems I need “the letter” from the main poste restante room. Back to the main building, i trudge. I finally find someone who tells me i must sort through the bin, find a postcard with my name then go to the foreign post office. I find the postcard, (i’m getting closer all the time) and trudge back to the foreign post office, post card in hand. This guy just shakes his head & takes me & my post card back to the main post office, where I encounter the typical civil servant. he takes my post card, but first he finishes reading the paper, has a glass of water and then he stands & leads me back to ‘the room” he unlocks a box, which holds a massive set of keys, which unlocks a huge safe, which holds “the letter”. I take the letter back to room 32. Then i get sent to room 29, where about 10 guys are sitting around and one takes my letter, and hands me a form to fill out. a form that is not in english. someone takes pity on me & tells me what & where to write. I pay him 25 rupees. I take my form & my letter back to room 32. someone gets my box, places it on a desk & opens it. Calls over a man, who also rummages through it. Then it gets put back behind the counter. Nooooooooooo! “you must go to room 30” I fill out another form in room 30, the guy signs it & sends me back to room 32. The woman gives me another form & I must go back to room 29 and pay 200 rupees. I get a receipt, go back to room 30 where I fill out ANOTHER form, in triplicate this time. Civil servant stamps the paperwork, I take it back to room 32 and then, yep, you guessed it, I fill out another form & pay 10 more rupees. So one hour & 20 minutes after entering the post office, i had my package in my hot little hands. I was beaming! so I am celebrating my success with a glass of chilean wine & lasagna on a rooftop cafe. Victory is sweet.
I also said good bye to some good friends today. My 75 cent flips flops I purchased in Bolivia. They have been really good up until now, but they have lost all of their tread & I have gone ass over tea kettle one too many times. Yesterday I was in Bhaktapur, outside of kathmandu & stepped in a puddle & whoosh, up went my feet & down went my ass. Right in the puddle, which I am sure had equal parts cow shit, dog shit, human urine & rain. I was covered. So, as much as I love you, my little ronaldos, you are going in the trash heap.