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Or the ‘unpleasant encounter with Correo Argentino in Retiro’.

There should be a manual on “how to receive a package from Amazon”.  I had already heard that it is difficult, if not impossible, to receive package with other things then books  : Import taxes are gigantic (50% or more). On the other hand, there are no taxes on books.

I had ordered books several times before, and each time, they were delivered at my door although always 2 or 3 weeks after the estimated delivery date.

But yesterday I was less lucky. I found a card under my door saying I could get my package in the already famous postoffice in Retiro. As I was really anxious to finally getting the books I had ordered about 2 months ago, I left before opening time to be “first” in the post office. I arrived at 10 am. I got my number, 892. They were at number 830. 60 people before me…. How can that be? Are these the guys that got their number the day before? Or is it open before the 10 o’clock mentioned on the card? Are people arriving long before opening hours to wait in line?

You have to live here to know that waiting in line is like a sport here. You wait in line at the supermarket, at the bank, at the busstop… Argentines are very disciplined in this and always wait in straight lines, at times several blocks long, without cheating. I am used to this. I always have a book in my purse.

Of course there are hardly any chairs so I waited on a strategic place ready to take the first available seat and started reading (unfortunately I brought a boring book). By the time it was my turn to go to the counter, about 2 hours later, the newcomers were getting numbers around the 0. They had more then 100 people waiting before them. As Tolstoy said, patience and time are the two most powerful warriors.

When they call your number you have to go to the counter and show the card you received and your DNI, and they give you a slip back with a number and you are told to go and wait in the other hall. Of course, you shouldn’t forget to put your name and signature on the backside, or they send you off again.

The other hall. Bigger then the first one. Full of people. Again. Wait. At times a series of numbers were called through the microphone, very hard to understand. As the numbers don’t follow up at that time, you have no idea how long you should wait.  Your Spanish must be quite good to understand the exact numbers, and I really had to focus, but after another hour or so my number was finally called and I could go to again, another hall, where they told me and my compatriots to go and wait at the end, where an whole load of similar amazon packages were brought in. And again the numbers were called.

After almost 3 hours I finally had my package in my hands, and on my way out there was a final check up at a counter and I was out. Free. Books under my arm. Starving. In desperate need of a coffee. But with 2 new books. Why on earth didn’t I buy more? What if I finish these books? Do I have to spend another half day in Retiro? Or will I be lucky again next time and will they deliver the package to my door again?