I should mention before this post even begins that I haven’t tried receiving packages via the regular Georgia postal system. Granted, I’m not sure that such a thing exists outside of marshutka drivers willing to stop along the side of the road, but I’ve been told it’s there. At the same time, I don’t have an address, so I’m not sure how anything would actually arrive at my house.
Nonetheless, I have become well-acquainted with receiving packages and pieces of home through USA2Georgia’s life-saving service. There’s a long series of FAQ on their website, so maybe this “tutorial” will save you a bit of time at the internet café.
USA2Georgia has an office in Delaware, so when you register (for free), you’ll be given an address at their office there. Your family or friends or junk mail contributors that have this address can send mail and packages to you, and they’ll only pay the domestic shipping fee. From this warehouse in Delaware, your mail will be flown to Georgia within a day or two and be delivered to the warehouse in Tbilisi. At each point in this process – arrival in the States, departure from the States, and arrival in Tbilisi – you will receive an email to inform you of the package’s progress.
When the package leaves the States, you have 3 days to declare its contents so that it doesn’t get stuck in customs. As long as the package doesn’t have a value of 300 GEL, it’s a very easy process. You (or the sender) can declare the package from your account online, and it’s obvious how to do so from there. Remember…the limit is in GEL and the declaration is in dollars, so be mindful of the amounts you’re declaring.
When the package arrives in Tbilisi at the USA2Georgia warehouse, you’ll need to pay for it via a paybox. You can do so at the paybox in their office; however, there is typically a bit of a wait for it, so if you can pay for it before you get there, that would be easier. You’ll get a box number (starting with U) that you can enter on the paybox. They do not accept money at the counter; payments must be done at payboxes. The cost for your package arriving in Georgia is $8 for 1 kilo (roughtly $4/pound).
The office is a bit complicated to get to via the metro; however, if you’ve done it once, it’s very easy. Go to Delisi, which is the last station on the Saburtalo line. Get off the train and walk to the other side like you’re going to go back the way you came. There is a sign (and announcements) that tell you where the next train is going ,which you should pay attention to because there are two trains: one goes toward Sadguris Moedani (back the way you came) and one goes to Vaja Pshavela (where you want to go). Wait for the right train, and get on the Vaja Pshavela train. When you come off the train, go up the steps, walk through the turnstyles, and take the exit on the right and the staircase to the left. Walk toward the big glass government building, past the church, and take the street right before this building (Department of Sports and Youth Activities or something like that) to the right. Walk to the end of it, turn left, cross the road, and keep going left. In front of you, there will be a USA2Georgia sign; turn right, walk to the end of the road, turn right again, and walk to the end of that road; walk inside. It sounds complicated, but I promise you; it’s not.
I’ve used this service 4 times, and I’ve never had a problem. You can also have the package delivered to you (or closer to you) for 10GEL, but I’ve never done so, as it’s about the same price to just to go to Tbilisi, and they’ll store it until I can get there. I’ve also ordered a movie from Amazon and just gave them my Delaware address, and then paid approximately 2GEL to have it shipped to Georgia.
Bring your passport to collect your belongings, and enjoy your taste of home, whatever it is: soft Kleenexes, Reese’s cups, peanut butter, cough syrup, Christmas candy, goldfish crackers, long underwear, or fuzzy socks.
Repeatedly in Georgia, I’ve learned that saying “დიახ” (yes) can bring great rewards. Often when saying “დიახ” isn’t what I want to do, I remember the lobiani that started a friendship and what I’ve experienced because of that. Consequently, I usually say yes.
One of the most interesting friendships I’ve formed during almost 2 years in Georgia occurred because of a lobiani. (Lobiani is from Racha, and is a bean-filled khatchapuri minus the cheese). One unremarkable night in Batumi, a friend and I had lobiani at a restaurant that we usually didn’t eat at. While waiting for our order (and wait is what you do in this restaurant), a middle-aged man at the next table asked us if we were some of “the teachers.”
In November 2010, TLG was still a fledging operation, and Westerners in Batumi (or most of Georgia for that matter) were still a rather uncommon sight…
View original post 648 more words