Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Mail, anyone?

There are so many things that we are still trying to figure out. One of those things is getting mail here, or sending mail from here. It is still something of a puzzle, but here is what I've learned thus far:

There is no mail delivery to home or business. Perhaps because there are also no addresses. I understand that the streets (there are very few of them) in Coxen Hole have names, but they are not posted anywhere and none of the houses have numbers. When someone asks where you live, you just give them directions using landmarks. I learned that there used to be mail delivery to our area until the mail carrier decided to quit delivering the mail, and instead stashed all of it in his/her home.

I don't think the islanders get much mail. Even Dennis and Merlin seldom get mail. Merlin is so well known that she generally gets a phone call telling her that she has mail at the post office in Coxen Hole. And that's another problem. Seems that the post office is seldom open when Merlin goes in to town. And if they are, you pay 10 lempira to get your mail (50 cents US).
There are post office boxes available, mostly businesses use them. One of the women in my evening Bible study who owns a business in West End said that when she needed a post office box, no more were available. Instead she got a plastic bag with her box number taped to it, hanging on the wall. That worked fine until the roof leaked during a hard rain and her bag filled with water.

Most of the ex-pats who live here use an alternate mail service in French Harbor. Their mail is sent out once a week from Miami via plane and delivered to a post office box in French Harbor at a cost of about $15.00 per month, or you can pay a one-time delivery fee for the occasional piece of mail. There are also FedEx and UPS services available but no overnight service to the States. Letters can be sent air mail via Roatan Air.

We use the carrier pigeon, oops - carrier daughter, delivery system. All our mail is sent to Rachel who either pays it, shreds it, scans and e-mails it to us if urgent, or brings it down when she comes. Great system, although the magazines are really delayed. Rachel mailed us a "test" letter in care of Dennis and Merlin about a month ago; we have yet to see it.

We had a quick moment of panic when Rachel called about a letter from the credit card fraud department for the card which we earlier had reported fraudulently used (see "Attempted Banking and Other Perils blog). We were to sign a fraud statement, have it notarized and return it within 15 days. The letter was dated one week before Rachel received it. She scanned it and e-mailed it to us. We scrambled around, calling to see if there were any notaries on the island, and if so, where, and then asking how to get it to Florida pronto. There are notaries, we learned, but then the problem was taken from us when our wonderful banker liaison in St. Louis said she could notarize it and get it there in time, just sign it and e-mail it to her. She has been a God-send!


  1. Jamie is wonderful! Yes, we must do something big to thank her! She needs a raise and a promotion and more!

    Definitely something lovely from the ding ding- maybe something she can place on her desk!

    It is a shame that the mail system is all weird and SLOW since it is CHEAP to send things there. Less than a dollar! Well, unless you fedex which was close to $300!

    Your carrier pigeon will be there soon with a whole suitcase of lagging mail and magazine. Most of which you won't give a darn about!

  2. Well, it wouldn't truly be the back door if you could easily be found by postal officials, would it?