26 May 2023

From here to there...

The last few weeks have been interesting and busy in a curious way.  I ordered three 55-gallon plastic barrels from the person I deal with who ships mostly houseware from places along the east coast of the United States to the east coast of Nicaragua. 

The area for which he provides this service is a bit more limited than the description above and so to be a more specific his business route includes from Miami to somewhere in New York state in the US to the southern autonomous region on Nicaragua's Caribbean coast.  A lot of territory for a single person.

I placed an order with him for the barrels, two of which I would fill in the short amount of time his schedule provides for turnaround.  I had accumulated a big pile of stuff both new and old.  And so in anticipation of the arrival of the empties, I began to divide my collection into two smaller piles - anticipating by guesstimate what would fit in barrel one and what would fit in barrel two.  Or at least what i thought would fit in each of these barrels before they even got delivered to my house based on my recollection of previous barrel fills.

Then each item had to be secured if not already secured - for instance wrapping and taping if loose and just taping if boxed or otherwise packaged...and labeled per barrel.  

Then each item for each barrel was photographed and fit into a two column list which contained the item's description and use in one column with the photo in the other.  A separate list for each barrel.

I made two of copies of each list.  One copy goes in the barrel, right on top of what's packed...for customs; and I keep the second copy.  This is a system that's worked well for me in the past and I wasn't about to change that.  If it ain't broke etc...

The man I deal with travels most of the way up the east coast dropping off empty barrels along the way.  Then he turns around and picks up full barrels on his return to Florida.  

I've never gotten the details about how it all works because his schedule is so tight there's never been time to discuss the process; but everything he collects on his south bound trip (mostly, but not all, barrels) is loaded on a ship for the trip to Nicaragua's east coast city of Bluefields which is on a bay.  

He's got a lot of experience at this and adds careful scheduling and a huge amount of hard work to make the process seem easy to his customers.

This time in anticipation of his usual quick return to pick up the empties, I asked for family help to actually pack the barrels.  There was a lot of stuff waiting to go and some of it was heavy and awkward.  Actually I knew there was more stuff than two barrels would accomodate but probably not enough for three.  And so the curating was not only which items went into which of the two barrels I was sending...but which items would go into a barrel at all.  

The help I had solicited - and I - got the packing done quicker than I thought we'd manage to do; but we didn't seal the barrels.  Actually we couldn't seal the barrels.  I decided to count on the expert for that; and when he arrived to pick them up he sealed them quickly and easily without having to remove anything.  Surprised the hell out of me but that's why he's an expert.  

Any empty spaces in the barrels are filled with used paperback books.  One of the buildings under construction at False Bluff is simply a small reading and game room for those who tire of the beach or the sea.  Three walls of the building will be lined with shelves full of books.  There will also be reading chairs and one or two small tables for board games.  One of the things that I managed to get into one of these recently departed barrels is an old chinese checkers game, with marbles.  A set of checkers went down a couple of years ago.

The barrels left here a week or so ago at about 10pm, heading for Florida, a boat, and then Bluefields.  They - and I - should get there at about the same time.

Note:  When emptied, some of the barrels will have another life which I will describe another time.