Zufelt Family Feb 2015

Zufelt Family Feb 2015

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Our stuff is finally here...now where to put it all?

After the long wait, our stuff finally arrived in Saudi Arabia last Thursday.  I have been living in our house since April with minimal items.  Our new house was provided furnished.  We were provided with tables, chairs, couches, beds, sheets, towels, a vacuum, and kitchen utensils.  However, many times I find the provisions lacking--especially when it comes to cooking.  I have been really looking forward to receiving our shipment so the house would be fully stocked.  It is a relief to have everything, but I don't enjoy the unpacking. 

When we moved to Singapore we were given a 40-foot container as our shipping allotment.  At the time we had no real understanding of how much stuff could fit into a 40 foot shipping container.  We divided our household up into to groups:  1) our furniture, clothes, and other items we used frequently to be shipped to Singapore (about 2/3 of our stuff), and 2) the remaining items we felt we could live without for three years.  These items were loaded up into two moving trucks and taken away to be packed into the shipping container or sent to long-term storage.  Once the shipment arrived in Singapore we found out we had used about 26 feet of the 40-foot container.  We could have fit much more.  Many times we found ourselves thinking, "I wish I just had that [name an item] that we put in storage.  It sure would be useful today."  Sometimes we ended up purchasing the item we needed and sometimes we just made do without.  Overall I believe we were glad we did not bring much more than we did because our Singapore house just did not have a lot of storage space.  If we brought more we would not have had anywhere to put it.

As our Singapore chapter ended and we prepared for the move to Saudi Arabia we were informed we would only receive a 20-foot container as our shipping allotment since our Saudi house would already be furnished.  Wait a minute, we have to leave Singapore with only half the shipping space we received when we arrived?  I asked for clarification to the policy and eventually received authorization for an additional 20-foot shipping container to send to the USA for storage.  Then came the hard part--what to take with us and what to send to storage?  The furniture, of course had to go to storage.  We knew we were still probably over our limit for the Saudi shipment and needed to reduce our Saudi shipment a bit more.  Angie did a great job of selling/gifting/trashing many items in an effort to trim down the amount of stuff we had. 

Finally the packing day arrived.  We loaded the back of our car with our suitcases packed with the clothes we would need for the next two months and opened the house to the packers.  After only one day of packing nearly everything was boxed up ready to go.  On the second day the two shipping 20-foot shipping containers arrived on one trailer:  a blue container bound for Saudi Arabia and a green one for the USA.  Our house is on a bit of a hill, so they parked the trailer at the top of our neighborhood circle where the road is level so they could load both sides without the boxes falling.  The movers finished packing the remaining items and started loading them into the containers, starting with the Saudi shipment.  Because the containers were a little distance from our house, they loaded in a two-step process:  first they loaded the items onto a moving truck at our house and then offloaded the truck into the container.   

I imagine it must have been hot moving the stuff from the truck to the container.  In Singapore it is common to call taxi drivers, grocery checkers, movers, etc. by the name Auntie or Uncle.  One of the uncles moving the boxes would take his shirt off during this part of the move.  Ashlyn saw the guy with his shirt off and started calling him "naked uncle."  When they came back to the house for another load the uncle had put his shirt back on.  Ashlyn kept asking where the naked uncle had gone.

Even after all of the great work Angie did to reduce our stuff, we could tell our Saudi shipment was going to be tight.  I grabbed some of the larger and lower priority items and set them aside to load last if room remained in the container.  After three truck loads the blue shipping container was completely full.  We were not able to add back any of the items I had set aside.  The packers forced the door closed and then moved on to fill the green container.  There was plenty of room for the items headed to the USA--the shippers did not have to work nearly so hard to fit it all in.  In fact, they purposely spread everything out across the floor of the container so it wouldn't shift while in transit.

With the house empty, we had a few days remaining before leaving Singapore.  We cleaned the house and prepared it to turn back to the landlord.  We were also able to enjoy our kids' last days at school.  Then Sunday morning we all headed to the airport and parted ways.  The family went to the USA to spend summer vacation with grandparents.  I returned to Saudi Arabia to work for a couple of weeks before joining the family in the USA.

After two weeks of work I made my trip to the USA.  On my second day there I received an email stating that my shipment had cleared customs in Saudi Arabia and was ready for delivery.  I was very surprised it made it through customs that fast.  I had heard stories that sometimes it takes weeks a shipment to clear customs because they will search the shipment for magazines and videos and remove or black marker over anything they considered inappropriate (basically any woman not fully covered).  Our shipment must have slid through without any inspection (once we received the shipment it appeared that not a single box had been opened).  I had to ask for the shipment to be stored for a month until I returned to receive it.

Once I returned to Saudi I was able to receive the shipment.  It arrived in two moving trucks:  one closed box truck and one open flat bed.  Both trucks were completely packed--the flat bed truck had boxes stacked slightly higher than the fences on the sides.  Within two hours of arriving both of the trucks were completely empty, the bikes were reassembled and lined up in the front yard, the contents of the kitchen boxes had been emptied out onto the kitchen counters and dining table, and the movers hauled all of the trash and empty boxes away.  The rest of the boxes were scattered through the house, with some in each bedroom and a large pile of boxes containing toys and office stuff in the center of the main floor.

I was now left all alone with a massive challenge:  Put away as much as possible in the next week before leaving for the USA to pick up my family.  I started by targeting two areas:  the kitchen and living room.  One of the things I missed most was my stereo system--the house has been very empty and quiet over the last four months and I was really looking forward to listening to music again.  I had identified the boxes containing all of the audio equipment as they were brought into the house and had them set aside so I could easily find them.  Once I got the music going then I moved onto the kitchen, which was the second area I had missed moset.  After two full days of unpacking and organizing I pretty much had the kitchen and living room taken care of.  I celebrated being able to cook again with a fresh fruit smoothie in the recently unpacked blender. 

Next I cleared the bedrooms and was able to empty most of those boxes.  Finally I opened all of the toy and office boxes in the center of the main floor.  I didn't put them all away because it would take too long to make it through them all.  However, I did organize them so we could more easily find things as we needed them and so we could live in our house as we continue to unpack the remaining items.  After just over a week of unpacking I have opened every box and emptied around 70% of the boxes. 

As I unpacked I did come across one item we did not expect to be in our shipment.  Apparently one of the Singapore geckos was excited to travel the world and jumped into our shipment.  Unfortunately he did not make it--the month in storage was just too long and hot for him.  I feel bad for the little guy.  Someone should have told him it was not a good idea to stow away.  Now I wonder how many more we will find when we finally unpack our USA shipment a few years from now.

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