Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Rushing to the post office this morning, and banging my car against sharp street corners did not pay of.
The post office that only opens for half an hour a day, yes you read it right - for half an hour, now closes early also. So if the total work time for the postman adds up to a quarter of an hour, that is obviously too much.
Never mind the fact that he does not deliver mail, or take in anything to post but the tinniest of little envelopes. What is the point of having a post office in the village at all, if it does very little or nothing at all?
Today it was the final straw for me, and that made me grab my pen and paper, and express my anger to the world!

I must admit there were many other things, that brought disappointment via correos and I don't mean literally by bringing a smashed packet or something... They simply don't do that. Well why should they deliver the mail, when idiots like me keep running to the office their selves, whether the packets are smashed or not!

That reminds me of my first parcel received in Spain. A family friend was visiting Canada, and sent us a bottle of maple syrup as a gift. After waiting at home for a month for the parcel to be delivered, I got fed-up and actually went to the post office myself for the first time. There it was, my syrup, in the corner of the little office in a box, leaking. Fragile written all over the package, yet they still managed to break it. The maple syrup was so well packed, they must have driven a tractor over the box to break the contents. Regardless they managed anyway, I can live without maple syrup, in fact I lived most of my life without it. I can even forgive the postal service for the occasional mishap, but when the system fails every week for over three months there's something wrong.

The next setback was simple, I go to check for a parcel, not there - go to the big office in the other town, get there just to find out that they never keep any mail for my town. Next day I go to the post office to find out that the postman had my parcel for over a week!

I just got used to waking up in the morning, getting ready like a mad woman, rushing through the narrow bending streets like a speeding bullet to get there on time (9 to 9:30AM only)... Even though, getting there on time does not mean that the postman will be in a mood to give your mail to you anyway.

My bizarre experiences with postal services in Spain seem to be endless and I was wondering whether it's my luck, my fault or simply the postal service is a waste of time. I had the latter confirmed while queuing up to post a parcel to Gran Canarias, and talking to fellow ex-pats. I found out that in the town of Cadiar, the postman works one week and the post-woman another. This creating a completely different postal service pattern each week.

While the post-woman is in charge she delivers the mail, but while the postman occupies himself with the postal services, he simply refuses to deliver any of the mail, thus making everybody to be paranoid about their post, and making them check for their mail in the post office every other day.

I was lucky enough that day, after waiting for very long 45 minutes in the queue to find out it was the postman's week and to find myself being shouted at for not filling in a customs declaration to send that damned parcel to Gran Canaria. I always was under this crazy disillusion that Gran Canaria was part of Spain, but apparently it is wrong and I will try to re-learn the map of modern Europe in the near future.

Don't be mistaken it is not just me who is unfortunate with the lousy postal service, there seem to be at least two villages in Spain that have this problem, but I wouldn't be so sure if that's where it ends.
On a later instance I had a misfortune of trying to post a letter to the United States, and while the envelope was being weighed and all the appropriate labels being applied I asked if it would be possible to stick on the "via airmail" sticker, as I grew accustomed to - there are two types of post. I was briefly informed that all the post goes via airmail, and there is no need for such stickers... "We don't use donkeys you know!" - the postman shouted at me. Well I posted that letter without the air mail sticker over a month ago and my friend in Portland is still waiting for the Spanish donkey that correos does not use to arrive.

On another recent occasion I even received a very interesting comment from my local postman. I went to the post-office like a mad woman yet again, and as I asked if there is any mail for me, he replied:
"But you had a letter yesterday!" Such an innocent tone, like you got a bill from Telefonica what else do you want? Never mind my bank account has already been charged the amount that the letter informs me about two weeks ago, but I got a letter!

On another event I had to try and prove to the replacement post-woman that my address actually existed, she kept insisting that I live in an apartment, while I kept trying to explain that no I actually do live in a house! OK my Spanish is far from perfect but my efforts are truly honest and sincere, all I want is my mail and my postman if not to deliver my mail then at least to give it to me, once it's in the post office and not two weeks later. Am I asking for so much?

I can accept the fact that Gran Canaria is no longer is Spain, I can also agree that my postman may be too busy to keep the office open for longer than half an hour a day, I can even accept the fact that my mail arrives looking battered and shattered, but please give me my letters (and parcels)!

Where will this end? I know no matter what I write or say my postman will not change, the office will be open when it will be open, the mail will arrive when it does and it will look no other way but how it is not supposed to look. I haven't given up I am simply too dependant on the snail-mail as an apprentice writer, all I can say that if there is someone else in Spain feeling the same way about Correos that I do, you are not alone. In fact it probable wouldn't be a bad idea to open "the disappointed with Correos" club, so that we can sit in a circle and just like alcoholics anonymous, stand up and say:
"Hi my name is Carra, I am disappointed with the postal service in Spain", and hear the applause for at least admitting it.


Richard said...

Ha, ha. What a lovely anecdote. I am quite sure you do not find it amusing, but it speaks volumes about a sleepy Spanish town, with its indifferent postal station. It really deserves to be part of a novel.

It is only open for half-an-hour each day? I used to live in a small town in Canada where the post office was only open a few hours each day, but it didn't really matter, since I would just go to the larger town with a full service post office.

The bureaucracy has probably decided that running the post office is too expensive, so they only allocate it so many hours per week. Personally, I think it would be better to just close the post office.

I know all too well about how long it takes mail to travel somewhere. When I was still writing letters, it took 3-4 days for a letter to go from Ottawa to Hong Kong or Tokyo, but 7-10 days to go from Ottawa to Montreal (about 200Km). I never understood why an overseas letter arrived faster than a letter within the same country. Of course, it may have been a provincial boundary problem, since Ottawa is in the province of Ontario and Montreal is in the province of Quebec (it used to take 3-7 days for a letter to go from Ottawa to Toronto - about 450Km, but it was in the same province)

carra said...

The idea for the novel sounds pretty good, I hadn't thought of it before..
Also if you have any broken bottles of maple syrup would you mind sending them to me? At least you'll have a way to dispose of them. :)

Anonymous said...

The Canary Islands ARE part of Spain, but they're an autonomous region and are duty-free.

carra said...

Anonymous, I actually do know that... I was being sarcastic.. And even if they are duty free so are the Channel islands of the UK, but you don't need to fill out customs declaration to post something there. Why customs declaration is needed if they are DUTY FREE???

jayant said...

accept my sympathy,Carra!!!
You know what,being from India I didnt even know what "Correos" is,so before going through the post I used an english dictionary to search for it,returing no results.Then,going by your location,I searched n online spanish dictionary to find out that it's their postal service,and,as the dictionary describes,it's one of the largest postal services in the world!!

Anyways,I must admit that you're not alone.We do get postal delays here in India but it never stretches over a day or two.And now I consider my country lucky to have the post offices open at least 8 hour a day!

Hope you'll soon have improved version of "Correos"(though I thank it,as you wudnt hve posted this if it had functioned properly!!!) :P

carra said...

Jayant, post office open for 8 hours! That reminds me of civilized world! Correos in my current dictionary is a swear word! Yes was "lucky", because of this poor service I managed to write a really good article (or at least i think so...).

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