Today has been more positive. I now feel we may actually “escape” from here.
Adam emailed Bollore late yesterday afternoon asking for another meeting at 10.00 this morning and requesting clarification on a few points. When can we get the Bill of Lading? When will we get our Carnet stamped? The name and schedule for the vessel and how and in what currency should payment be made?
This morning despite chasing Bollore by email and WhatsApp, no response to meeting at 10.00 was received. Obviously the meeting wasn’t going to happen, so we didn’t rush to have breakfast. Adam finally phoned and a meeting was arranged for 14.30 in the afternoon. To pass the time, we spent the morning on the beach and swimming. Then a quick lunch. Cheese and tomato sandwiches and pineapple. We seem to have almost been living on pineapples. They are prolific here. A different variety of pineapple to the ones we have in the UK and NZ. Conical in shape with a lighter flesh. Very juicy.
On arrival at Bollore’s offices at about 14.20, the reception area was deserted. We waited and eventually an employee came in through the doors. We asked why there was no one on duty and were advised the office was closed. Lunch break from 12.00 – 14.30. Eventually we were let in and taken to a meeting room where we waited for the Sales Agent, Mr Atohoun, to join us.
What a difference a day can make!
A much more productive meeting today. Now we have signed the contract. The Land Rovers will be loaded into the container on Tuesday, 11th at 15.00 in Bollore’s yard. Previously we had discussed Monday, 10th, but then realised this was Easter Monday and a holiday.
We have requested Customs be present to inspect the contents of the vehicles and to stamp our Carnet de Passage. Mr Atohoun agreed this would be done, but I’m still not sure it will happen. The Bill of Lading will be issued 72 hours after departure of the ship and will be couriered to us in Durban.
We didn’t pay any money. I have been walking around for the last few days will a purse stuffed with over a million CFA’s and a bundle of 4,000 Euros. Mr Atohoun is to send us a final invoice in the next couple of days. The other Customs duties and Bollore’s fee will be paid in cash in CFA’s, but we would prefer to pay for the shipping cost by bank transfer. Mr Atohoun is to let us know Bollore’s banking details and in which currency they want to be paid.
We came back to our hotel feeling progress was being made, at last. Back to the beach for a couple of hours. The name of the vessel on which our Land Rovers are now booked is the “Port Gdynia”. There are various maritime websites where you can track the position of a ship, so we looked for our vessel. Currently she is moored in Valencia, Spain. We will track her progress to Lome with great interest.
It is fascinating to see the number of and location of ships. This led us to look at a similar aviation website. What was interesting was the lack of aircraft over Africa and the western side of Africa in particular. Only one aircraft was showing at Lome airport.
Next came a discussion on which day we could leave and should we go ahead and book flights. Hopefully, if the vehicles are locked in the container, and we have our Carnet stamped we can leave on the 12th or 13th. Our visas expire at midnight on 13th.
We looked at flight schedules and air fares. Routings vary depending on the day of travel, but on 12th and 13th it looks as if the connections are via Kinshasa or Libreville and then Johannesburg. We have to change aircraft twice. Fares are around EUR 600. There are few flights out of Lome, so there is not a lot of choice. Dennis wants to go ahead and book, but I think we should wait in case there are any hiccups.