Shipping Part 5: Go Get It!

It took an entire week get the bus cleared by US customs.

In reality, I had all the customs release forms complete and in my hands before the bus even arrived. But, due to an apparent clerical error, no one was able to verify and let me drive away with it. Showing the forms with the official stamps didn’t help – it wasn’t in the computer. Lots of confused phone calls and ‘not my job’ responses later, our agent finally saved the day and found someone in the Houston customs office to clear it in the system. One more week and it would have been confiscated.

We had been waiting around Galveston and were so confident that it would finally get released on Friday that we decided to go to Sonny’s Place to celebrate and wait for the call. If you know Sonny’s, you might guess what we found when we got there. “Closed for repairs.”

It’s all part of the allure. Getting in. I’ve been coming here since I was a kid and I’m guessing I’ve only made it inside 50% of the time. The rest of the time they were closed for repairs. In all that time, nothing has ever been repaired.

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Anyway, the call finally came. We ran down to port and then waited another hour for our ‘escort’ – some doofus with port credentials that charges $50 to follow him to the WWL office.

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There was Red Beard. Filthy, but all there. Just the original dings and scratches and nothing missing. So much for all those horror stories we’re heard about RORO.

There was also a gleaming fully restored Texas Splitty, likely being shipped to a European buyer at an astronomical price. It made our bus look pretty sad – but at least ours probably has better stories to tell.

I signed a few documents and gave it a quick look over and that was it. We were given a Gate Pass and were free to drive* into the USA.

It’s been a while.

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So, to sum it all up…

Port and doc fees in Colombia: $110

WWL freight + fees and port fees in Galveston: $580

Galveston agent and customs clearance fees: $190

Galveston ‘port escort’ fee: $50

Total cost to ship a VW bus from Colombia to Texas:  $930 USD

Or, maybe more interestingly, it was $350 for the actual shipping freight and $580 for administrative junk.

Our virtual friends over at Life Remotely have written up a detailed account of their shipping experience with WWL from Brazil to Galveston, and I would recommend using it as a guide of what to expect.  Coincidentally, our vehicles rode on the exact same boat – just a few months apart.

*I got a “one-trip” temporary vehicle registration from the Texas DMV that legally allowed me to drive on this day only. It was $5, but required proof of insurance.

11 thoughts on “Shipping Part 5: Go Get It!

  • August 11, 2013 at 11:27 AM
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    Nice clothes Jason… Did you go shoppin’?

  • August 11, 2013 at 11:53 AM
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    Believe it or not, I actually do own a shirt with a collar. It’s true.
    But yes, I did go shopping. The airline managed to lose half my luggage on the flight home. Still waiting.

  • August 11, 2013 at 3:33 PM
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    Wow, guys! I’ve been following along for some time now and I must say, even as a reader, it’s pretty surreal that y’all have packed up and said goodbye to S. America. 🙂 Wishing you all the best!

  • August 11, 2013 at 4:30 PM
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    Armelle – We were both sad and content to leave S.A., but it was definitely time to move on. We were done. End a chapter, start another…

  • August 11, 2013 at 8:15 PM
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    Wow. What an amazing journey. I discovered you guys when you had just made it in to Mexico and have been following ever since. Thank you so much for sharing your adventure with us all. Keep us up on the plans and prep for the next chapter!

    p.s. Please do another family portrait with Red Beard like the one you did before you left!

  • August 11, 2013 at 8:27 PM
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    Nick – great idea! We should definitely do a 4 years later photo… I haven’t had Bode on my shoulders in a while – he’s 52 pounds now!

  • August 12, 2013 at 6:36 AM
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    Glad you all are back in the States safe and sound. Nice pics of Sonny’s – that brings back some memories.

  • August 12, 2013 at 7:28 AM
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    Strubbe! Any chance you’re coming to Texas in the near future?

  • August 12, 2013 at 12:28 PM
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    Nice job guys! Glad you sorted everything out. And even not tat bad of a price tag. Funny we were on the same ship just a few months apart. Hope all is well. – Jessica

  • August 12, 2013 at 5:51 PM
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    Welcome back! Wiser for the wear and a great example to others who dare to enter the unknown! Thank you!

  • August 13, 2013 at 10:22 AM
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    Hey Jason! Long time. Let me know what your plans are in the near future. I’m in Dallas for the time being, but would love to get together while you are still in Texas. Where ever.

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