Don’t you want to go re-read parts one, two, three and three and a half of this series on shipping? You know you’ve forgotten a lot of the details. Go ahead. I’ll be here when you get back.


On the day our container was supposed to arrive at our house in Rabat, on a date which I’ve already lost to the mists of time but was sometime towards the end of July, we had been clearly warned that it would have to LEAVE Rabat, fully loaded, by 1:00. The shipping agent originally wanted it to arrive at 9, but we were worried that our helpers (university students, four future doctors, from Ghana) wouldn’t make it that early, so we negotiated 10.

By 10, we had our 4 future doctors, a young American couple, and a couple of other friends there, just ready to go. There was no sign of the container. Donn called the agent in Casa. “Ah yes,” he said. “It will leave soon.”
“I thought we were supposed to have finished loading it by 1?” asked Donn.

“Yes, yes,” agreed the agent. Since it takes about an hour and a half to drive the distance between Casa and Rabat, this was going to be a problem.

We decided to have everyone move all the boxes and furniture downstairs and outside, so as to get the job halfway done. It was a lovely day, sunny but not too hot, and everyone set to work. By the time we’d finished, it was about 11:30 and the street remained empty and quiet. Donn called the shipping agent again. “It’s just left Casablanca,” he promised us.

We ordered a lot of pizza (style americain but no pork products of course) and sent the kids to the hanut for cold drinks. We had plenty of time to sit around and digest afterwards, so we relaxed on the empty, dusty tile floor of the living room and chatted.

At 2:40, to great excitement and fanfare, the container arrived!

I watched the future doctors toss each other the light boxes marked FRAGILE!! I might have squeaked a bit. We’d sat and looked at all the stuff spread out on the lawn and wondered how on earth it was all going to fit, but it did. In fact, there was extra space at the end—about 10-15 percent maybe. I will check this with Donn, who was actually up in the sauna-container, sweating profusely and cramming stuff in. That meant the stuff towards the end was packed quite loosely, and would potentially shift in transit. We put a clay pot (the one that had held our Christmas tree) in at the end, no padding around it, and assumed the next time we saw it, it would be in 3 or more pieces.

By the time it was ready to leave Rabat, it was about 4. Donn talked to the agent, who told us that it was too late for us to come to Casa, and to be there by 9:30 the following morning. We were exhausted, but we made it in good time, only to be met by an empty office. We took ourselves to a café for coffee and bread spread with long-life cheese, and eventually he arrived and we were able to visit the port, which involved mostly standing around various offices for several hours and then signing one piece of paper.

“Your container will arrive in Seattle in about 4 weeks, maybe 5,” said our shipping agent.

A couple of weeks later, we come back to America. At first we stay with our friends, then we move into a small 2 bedroom temporary situation while we househunt. Soon we get an email from the shipping agent, letting us know the contact info for the company that will be receiving the container in Seattle. And so begins another round-about…