Saturday, January 14, 2006

From a Group 73 Mom - Re Phone Cards

Hi! My daughter Cecilia is Group 73, been on island for a year. I noticed your Group 75 parent blog link tonight and the mention of mail and phone cards. Thought Iā€™d share from experience:

Phone Cards: I frequently use the 24/7 TCC card available from . There are many cards available on that site, but this one gives you 26 minutes for $5 and is best used for one call only. I have success with also, but the leancard site is the cheapest.

Mail: I tried every way possible, and it is such an adventure! Know this, no matter how long it might take, the package really will get there. The day after Cecilia left in Oct 2004 I mailed three small boxes US airmail. Two arrived within 15 days; the third box arrived in April 2005. It was intact, although the Halloween candy melted into a brick of candy corn. It was all good, she said, you could cut it with a nifi. I sent an M-Bag (the cheap-rate surface mail intended for books, but everyone stuffs other stuff in there) that also took about 6 months to get there. Look up M-Bags on the USPS website, very specific rules to follow in packaging. I sent DHL Jumbo Boxes ā€“ DHL has a very special rate for up to 55 lbs in one special size box, called an international jumbo box. Flat rate of around $185 to send that, AND it IS trackable and it WILL get there within a week (but not at Christmastime). You have to contact DHL directly to arrange jumbo box shipments, and you cannot arrange that shipment online.

I must say that after we visited Samoa last June, my care packages now only contain items she requests. I now weigh the cost of the item plus shipping versus buying that same item there. I was very surprised to visit her favorite grocery store in Apia, and find it is air-conditioned and carries a limited variety of normal grocery store items. It is fascinating what products get shipped to Samoa and what do not.

Cyclone season begins for Samoa in January ā€“ here are some links to monitor the cyclone activity (miraculous last-minute turn last year spared them from a direct hit by Olaf). Peace Corps will evacuate all of them to hotels on higher ground.

Enjoy the adventure along with your daughter!

Anita Fly