Or: How to ship a van from Germany to Mexico. In this case, a 1980 VW T3
Kai and I are in Veracruz. We are in Veracruz on a mission.
When we decided to move to Mexico, I figured I’d do as I always have: sell all my shit, pack two suitcases and go.
It had been quite a while since I’d last done that. Six years of proper jobs and apartment living adds up to a lot of stuff to get rid of. I tried a minimalist approach, but realized that my shit gives me joy. While I did manage to get rid of a lot of it, there was a lot left over. Some of it was expensive. Some of it is art. Some of it is sentimental (my mother’s textiles, my photos, books, and cushions). Some of it is pretty damn useful (good kitchen equipment, tools, solar panels).
And some of it is just not easy to part with, like Kai’s 1980 Volkswagen T3. He’s had it for about 10 years and it has taken him all over Europe.
For the last five years, I’ve had the pleasure to get to know her. She took a select three girls (who for some miraculous reason still love me after all we went through) and I through Germany, over the Austrian mountains into Italy and down the coast, over the Mediterranean to Albania, further along to Croatia and then through Hungary and up to the Baltic Sea in Poland…. this car has memories!
Based on her colour, and a cut out of Kai’s old surf board that lives on the dash (a pin-up girl called Ginger), I call this car GINGER.
When we decided to move to Mexico, we knew she had to come. And then we figured we may as well fill her up for the journey and get some of our stuff here too. This all seemed like a brilliantly easy idea… until we started doing the work!
Basically, we are on a mission to get Ginger back to her proper place: with us.
Without going into too much detail, I can honestly say tha tgetting Ginger to Mexico has involved a great amount of logistic.
First, we thought we could just pack her up and ship her off. Turns out, when shipping a car to Mexico, it has to be empty.
So, we packed up some boxes. Well, it turns out those boxes have to be safe to ship. So, Kai built some wooden crates to put our boxes in. So, after building the boxes, he filled them with our boxes. Professional container packers packed the boxes in and secured them tight. They drove the care in after that and secured it tight. Finally, they put the container onto a ship and the shipped sailed across the sea. Easy as pie.
Nope. Not easy as pie. Before that could get done, we had to make detailed lists of the contents of the boxes and get them approved at the Mexican consulate in Frankfurt to get an import visa.
Next we had to find a customs agent in Mexico to receive our container and negotiate port authorities and customs agents. We sent all the documents to Gisela (ask me if you want a referral, she was great and I can recommend her), make sure our migration paperwork was done before we picked up the stuff, pay a bunch of money and travel to Veracruz to receive the shipment.
Anyway, we’ve been here since Tuesday. It is Sunday today and we still haven’t received the shipment. I’ve been into the shipping yard. I sat in Ginger, showed off her kitchen and nifty features to the port workers and authorities and checked her oil. But, we are not allowed to pack, unpack or even driver her out until we get an okay.
The temporary importation permit was the easy part.
We spent a few hours at the Banjercito getting a temporary import permit so we can drive her here in Mexico. Lucky us, we found out that you can get a 10-year Permission for a camper in Mexico and we managed to get that! So Ginger can legally stay in Mexico longer than we can! Basically, we presented all of the car documents, our migration cards, and payed a small fee. It was easy as shit compared to the rest of it.
But we still haven’t driven her out, packed her up and made our way home to Puerto Escondido. Today is Sunday, so customs isn’t working. And tomorrow is a holiday, so no chance there. Tuesday, at the earliest, we’ll have a chance to see our stuff on this side of customs, pack the van and drive home to Puerto Escondido. A whole week later. And with no time to spare for tours and fun.
So, we are suck in Veracruz and I wanted to write something about that because, honestly, this city is loud, and the port smells funny, our little airbnb room is stuffy, I miss my dogs, the sea, the sand, and I’m frustrated as hell.