Freight Fiasco

When Steve and I bought our dream home in Nevis, we knew it was our one big chance to justify filling a shipping container. We spent months making lists of everything we thought we would eventually need – and then we bought two of each. I felt like one of those “preppers” working towards securing our survival in the event of socio-economic collapse – or, you know, island life. I was going to be ready for the apocalypse, damn it! By the time the container arrived, our stateside garage was filled, floor-to-ceiling.

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Like Noah filling the ark two by two, everything was loaded, and we felt like we’d be set for many years to come. If only we had known that by the time we finally needed to pull out all of those spare towels and sheets we packed, they would have already fallen victim to the harsh climate of rock living – simply by existing in a drawer!

We were in pretty good shape for the first year or so, but inevitably, we became like most other islanders and began weighting our luggage down with necessities each trip we made to Florida. Between what we needed for ourselves and what our friends added to our list, our packs could rival that of Sherpas tackling Everest. We have hauled Jeep parts, solar lights, 4 shocks for a Toyota – you name it and we have probably hauled it through a TSA checkpoint.

Then one day, it happened: we needed something we were completely unprepared for and we needed it NOW. Our pool guy/friend called my husband Steve (who was in Florida at the time) and informed him that we needed a part and we needed it quickly if we didn’t want a science experiment in our backyard. Steve immediately left work as if our first born’s life depended on it, acquired the aforementioned part, and overnighted it to Nevis via FedEx. Though it cost us a pretty penny (FedEx to the rock is anything but reasonable), we relaxed that night knowing that our crisis had been averted – or so we thought.

Two days later, our pool guy/friend called Steve and asked him if he wanted the good news or the bad. Always one for optimism (I say denial), Steve chose the good news, to which our friend reported, “It’s a beautiful day in Nevis!”

The bad news?

“The plane with your FedEx package crashed between Statia and Saba.”

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Not to worry – the pilot was fine. Our pool part, however, sank to the bottom of the sea. Our first international shopping experience proved more dramatic than anticipated, though our latest debacle has been even more frustrating for me…

The time for a new dining room rug had arrived. As a family, we work with an animal rescue organization on the island, foster dogs when we’re here, and then fly them to new furever homes in the States whenever we make a return trip. While this is extremely rewarding work, each of the dogs that have passed through our home have left his/her mark on our old rug.

Like the spoiled American girl that I am, I turned to the Interwebs to hopefully solve my rug problem as quickly as possible. I found a website that not only had a lovely rug available for $350, but it also offered to collect duty and tax ahead of time so that I could skip Customs on my end. For any rock dweller, the promise of not having to face Customs is like saying you can eat whatever you want and still look good in that bikini. Sure, it sounded too good to be true, but I couldn’t resist – SIGN ME UP! In total, the rug, including shipping, duty, and tax came to $750, which felt like a great deal to me, all things considered.

By the time the rug finally arrived, I was bursting was excitement. I drove my little 2-door Jeep to the airport where – you guessed it – Customs had no idea what I was talking about when it came to pre-payment and I had to pay duty all over again. Sigh. My $350 rug had now turned into $950, but… c’est la vie! I could settle with the rug company later. The rug was here and I couldn’t wait to see it.

I loaded it into my Jeep and drove VERY slowly home. I was the only one around at the time, but I couldn’t wait any longer. I dragged the rug upstairs on my own, step by agonizing step, and into my dining room. As I slowly unwrapped it, my mind began to tilt. Things just weren’t registering properly. My eyes had to be telling my brain lies. This could NOT be true…

They sent me the WRONG DAMN RUG!

The next couple of days were a bit of a blur (rage —> therapy —> wine —> repeat) but from what I can recall, I FaceTimed my husband who called the company and after a game of telephone tag, they insisted we ship the wrong rug back before they would agree to send the correct rug in its place.

After all was said and done, we did receive the right rug, though I have yet to see it and confirm it with my own eyes. In our absence, our house manager put it in the garage to await our return next month. The closer we get to our trip back, the more frequent the nightmares: I arrive, peel back the wrapping, and find… the wrong damn rug. Again.

The good news? It’s a beautiful day in Nevis!

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Shay Horner

About Shay Horner

Shay and her husband Steve decided that when the kids left for college, they wanted to live on an island. They didn't know which one but after renewing their vows for their 20th anniversary on Nevis, they decided that they had found their home. Now, if the kids would just stop ruining their lives and go to college already, they would be there full time (1 1/2 more years...!!). Until then, Shay goes back and forth 4-5 times a year while Steve pays for it!

Part of what feeds her family's soul is working with the local animal rescue group. She's not sure if she saves them or they save her. Each trip to Nevis, she goes on social media and begs anyone who knows her to take a dog, which they have affectionately named, "Nevisian Mango Hounds". She then flies them back to the states and sometimes drives them for 14 hours. Each time, she vows "never again" and then she sees another pup.

After three years of hopping between Florida and Nevis, the honeymoon has begun to wear off and the reality of rock living has set in. It doesn't make her want to be there any less but it has given her some interesting writing material. She has learned a few things like, "If the locals aren't taking the ferry, don't take the ferry" after almost dying when Steve HAD to get to the airport during a hurricane. Lesson learned!

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14 thoughts on “Freight Fiasco

  1. Love the post … hate the shipping! nightmare. From my experience, it’s all true and been happening for a long time with personal items coming in due to relocation. The shipping companies promise efficiency (almost heaven) and deliver hell! I had to wait 3 months to have my personals delivered from one rock, via Miami, to the next. Dozens of phone calls to the company and their connections … living out of my smart-pack suitcases … . Lessons for me: I don’t need all that stuff; pack smart and buy what you need locally (with an eye on quality!).

    • I am learning that buying local, when you can find it, is so much easier and really not that much more expensive!

  2. Those of us on Long Island (Bahamas) can identify with every bit of this …. the elastic on the bottom sheets wearing out before the sheets are used, the hauling of “mini-Walmarts” through airports, the wrong part’s reaching and the right part’s being out of stock ….. and, it’s all worth it. It’s a beautiful day on Long Island !

    • I had the great idea to leave some clothes here so I would have less to carry each trip…. Big mistake! In less than two months the elastic in my bathing suits was gone…. Even now I hoard bathing suits when I am in the states every time I see a good sale! They just don’t last long without climate control! Lol

  3. I remember receiving a lawn mower, outboard engine and a dish washer in a similar manner. It cost a huge amount of patience, dollars, and just a few bottles of wine.
    These, by the way, are the kind of stories that HGTV needs to include in their series Caribbean Life. The show always highlights how the family moving to a rock will, having abandoned the hustle and bustle of a big city Stateside, will have an easy life going to the beach every day. Just once I’d like to sees them highlight the flip side of the coin!

    • Yes, HGTV needs to do a show that shows the REALITY of rock living! I think it would be funny and I have actually suggested it. We were on House Hunters International when we bought the house. They keep calling about a “where are they now” but we passed. Maybe someday but for now we are happy to keep it to ourselves!

  4. You are not alone. Here on Guanaja we have met with many of the same problems. Weather ruins things, parts go bad and you MUST have two of everything. The wrong item is sent (even from the mainland of Honduras) and you have to send it back at your expense (in the case of orders from the mainland) and hope they go to the airport and pick it up. You never, never get your money back in Honduras and sending things back to the U.S. is out of the question unless it is small and someone can carry it in their luggage.
    Ordering the part by number and complete description does not mean you will be successful. Since the advent of Amazon and our getting internet on the island (which took many years), we have an easier method for shipping. We use a company in Miami who ACTUALLY does pay the customs in advance (out of your pocket however) and that works out beautifully. It just takes about 3 weeks to get items you have released from Miami.
    All in all, it is a challenge but, what the heck, we are retired and willing to learn new way to “outdumb” them as my husband says.

  5. Haha “out-dumb”! Love it! That is a new word for us to add to our arsenal of descriptions! Enjoy your retirement! We are getting much closer to that ourselves!

  6. Great story and the others that replied…..However on Ambergris Caye we got an initiation that can never be forgotten. After months of prepping, filling the container with our last items (2 of each) and sleeping in Paradise on a blow up mattress awaiting our carefully chosen items…..The container Ship hit the reef (2 containers detached and landed in the deep Sea)…..The ship was rerouted to Jamaica for an investigation…….Unbelievably! 6 weeks later our items arrived….. However, the good news is it’s a beautiful day on Ambergris Caye……. 🙂

    • Wow! I know these stories are frustrating at the time but they actually make fun memories! I always remind myself of that when I am in the middle of a wonderful future story…. Lol

  7. One day while living on island (SXM=St.Maarten Dutch side) I was awaiting for a delivery of a pair of walkie talkies(of all things??). The day came when we got the call to come down to the Pt. Blanche storage house(from 5 Star in MIami) to pick up our goods from Home Depot…. We said please just deliver it, we are busy and we will pay for it to come to Ft. Wilem..The day came and we signed the pares for them to bring up our loot (may have been other things in the order b/c the delivery bill was high. We opened the door and there were two guys struggling to bring in two big boxes. My husband and I looked at each other. They had delivered to big OFFICE DESKS in two boxes.. We had already paid the delivery bill…so we did what every good islander would do.. We set up the desks and forgot about the walkie talkies and never herd from Office Depot again. We couldnt even think about returning these beautiful desks and still wonder who they actually belonged to , but it had our name on it and our order number. Cest la Vie! I would have done the same if it was a large crate of toilet paper.. Your junk is my treasures!

  8. I like your sardonic and funny, graceful style of writing and oh, yes, you have discovered the non -embroidered side of island life!


    • Thank you Mary! I come from a family of writers but this is my first piece. My sister writes for NCIS New Orleans at the moment so maybe it rubbed off on me. My mother is also a song writer and screen writer. This was fun for me! The island has inspired my creative side that I have run from for so long! Haha That and Chrissann’s wonderful editing contributions! She is really good at this stuff! I look forward to seeing her book someday! Bless!

  9. Regarding the desks which were not yours.

    My husband and I have been living part time on SXM for over 12 years. We rely on cargo from Miami to being items to us on a regular basis. Yes they have delivered wrong items on a couple of occassions but we did NOT accept because these items belonged to someone else. I can’t imagine taking someone’s property and feeling as it is rightfully yours. Much less bragging about it on line!

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