Thursday, November 13, 2008

Alexey and Daniel, two good friends 13/11/08 Days 119, 120

Days 119,120 (slide show 1) (slide show 2)

Well today things are starting to happen with my gear. I caught the metro for a 40 minute ride to the Zličín station here in Prague. It is the farthest most station on the B line. I live on the other end of the B line. I was very happy when my friend Alexey offered to come with me to the warehouse. He has the day off today and said he would come as a translator. My contact at CS Cargo speaks English but he might not be in and there are a lot of unknown variables to consider. It’s nice to have Alexey is with me.

So many things happened while I was there. I paid the invoice right away then I sat down to hear the procedure for picking up the crate. As it turns out I have to pick up the crate tomorrow and take it to the customs office which is out by my house on the other side of the city then get them to release it. According to Pavel from the warehouse my paperwork is in order so at that point I will have my bikes and gear. There is no telling how long this will take. I never heard from my driver which was very distressing because he was to be my interrupter at the customs office. I had to make a quick decision at the time and decided to hire a driver from the warehouse. I hope this is the right choice.

After a few hours of discussions with Pavel the warehouse representative I asked if I could see the crate. I was so scared that I would see a smashed mess or a corner of a poorly built box smashed in. If it doesn’t look good why am I going through all this pain? When I saw the crate I almost dropped to my knees. It was in perfect condition and a very solid box. I looked at the ceiling of the warehouse and thanked my friend Moses at ETC International for the great job he did. I also thanked Zeus and Apollo for keeping there eyes on my stuff. Now if they can help me get through tomorrow.

On Day 120 I almost overslept because I couldn’t sleep at all last night. Every option was going through my mind. Alexey and I spoke afterword and he told me I would have a very difficult time at customs if I don’t have a translator. Since my driver is AWOL and I have no one to help I have to just do it myself. I figured that if I’m suppose to have my gear then it will happen and if not I will just ship it back and make other plans. I would drive myself nuts worrying about it. I was at a cybercafé chatting with Alexey about the options last night and he remembered a friend of his that is a student and might be available. I meet him one time but there wasn’t any reason for him to help. Alexey told me that if I send him an email he might get it and show. This was a long shot because it was 8PM and chances are he won’t even read the email in time let alone want to spend the day at the customs office. I’m trying to imagine why anyone would want to subject themselves to that kind of torture. I sent the email, what the hell. This is what I wrote to Daniel Plavecký.

Hi Daniel,
I was just chatting with Alexey and he mentioned you as
a possible person to ask. It's a big favor but I will
make it well worth your time. I need a translator to
come with me tomorrow morning to the customs office.
It's crazy but we would meet at the Zlicin station at
8am. The warehouse where I have my gear is there and I
just found out today the procedure. We will go by their
truck to the customs office with my crate of gear in
the truck. There we go through the process of getting
the clearance. I have no idea how long it will take
and I don't expect it to be pleasant. I will get you
to the nearest metro station as soon as possible then
the driver and I will continue on to my flat. If all
goes well I expect to be in possession of my property.
Alexey was with me today at the warehouse and he thinks
I need a translator to help me. I agree but time is a
problem. This is short notice and you might not have
the time or even get this message. Another problem is
that I have no phone and my laptop is in the crate
with the gear so I'm using cybercafés and won't be
able to check my messages that early in the morning.
So, if you’re so inclined I will meet you in the morning
or I will tell you all about the adventure the next
time we meet.
Thx Man

So I’m thinking to myself that there isn’t anyway that Daniel will be there at the metro station so I’m going to have to make it on my own. I was at the station at 7:45AM waiting when all of a sudden here comes Daniel. I was very surprised and relieved. How could he have gotten the message? As it turns out he was just about to turn his computer off around 9PM when he saw it come into his message box. “I wasn’t doing much today so I thought I would come” he said.

We headed to the warehouse going down the trail and behind the metro night station and he asked “How did you find this place” I laughed.

By 9:30 we were on our way to the customs office. The driver from the warehouse was a contracted driver who spoke little English but was a nice guy. It would have been very difficult to deal with the plutocracy through him. As we arrive at the office Daniel noticed a sign on the front door. It said that the office will close at 3PM because of the holiday on Monday. I new I was getting lucky now because these bureaucrats would want to get me out of there so they don’t have to deal with me later. I was praying to Zeus for an inspector who wanted to get to the bar early for his first holiday beer.

Inside there wasn’t very many people so I’m thinking this might be easy. There I go again thinking too much. I took a number and we waited. About an hour went by and nothing then it was lunch hour and one half. As 2PM approached we were getting impatient so Daniel went back through a door to see if he could find out anything. As he came out he shook his head, nothing. Then within 30 seconds my number came up but before I could get to the counter the next number was up. Sitting down again I was beginning to think they were doing this on purpose. Around 2:15 Daniel was called and asked to write down in Czech a statement explaining my reason for wanting two bikes. Then after that they wanted a written statement on why I wasn’t working. Now the biggest problem I thought I was going to have was my visa status but they didn’t even ask. After all that and 3PM on the dot rolled around then the clerk looked at the papers again grabbed the stamp and “Bam Bam” Bye Bye.

They didn’t even look in the crate. The driver grabbed the paperwork and motioned “Let’s go fast” I was I disbelief. We were heading to my flat and I had my gear. We arrived out in front of my apartment and opened the crate on the road. In 15 minutes were had it all in my room. The driver took my crate back to the warehouse for storage so I can use it on my return and Daniel went to the metro station and it was all over.

Thanks Alexey Statsenko and Daniel Plavecký. You both really did me a big favor and I won’t forget it.