Sunday 24 November 2013

Mauritius 2 - The Return - The Trouble with Customs is....

It seems that I have a small problem every time I come to this beautiful island in the SWIO.
Readers will recall that the first time I came, back in May, that I did not have the full address of where I was staying, this resulted in what can only be called an adventure. First of all I was taken by the immigration officer through the customs post (much to the annoyance of the customs officer) and out into the passenger concourse to meet with my taxi driver to obtain the address, we returned having obtained said address to complete my entry formalities only for the customs officer to berate the immigration officer for letting me through without the usual checks, anyway dispute settled I got my entry visa and made my way to baggage collection.
On espying me, now with luggage, the same customs officer directed me for further baggage checks (I was carrying 300 USB sticks with the training materials, I was fearful that these could be detained).
A new customs officer told me to put my bag through an X-ray scanner, and of course the sticks were picked up, he asked to see them and I was thinking "here we go, these are going to result in a huge wad of customs duty or detainment) I showed them to him and he just smiled and said "Welcome to Mauritius" phew.
I arrived at the airport after a very long and tiring journey, and that is another story, but it needs to be told so.
I'd flown with Emirates and was seated next to a French woman and a Belgian woman, well it was a disaster from start to finish, first of all I accidentally spilled a full glass of Bacardi and Coke down my trousers, duly mopped up, dinner arrived, quite nice, in fact I'd recommend Emirates economy for any long distance air travel, much better than other airlines, however I digress.
After dinner coffee was taken and yes, it too ended up in my lap, much to the amusement of the women sitting next to me, an icy glare from me soon stopped the laughing, so nuts roasted and damp the rest of the journey was completed with a frosty atmosphere.
We arrived and this time, immigration was completed without any hitch but...
When I went down to collect my luggage, I discovered that one of the cases was encased in a plastic sack, because it had been thrown with such force that the hinges and side panels were completed destroyed.
So, off to baggage handling to find out what had happened, no explanation was forthcoming, but I was offered full replacement cost price as compensation, this I agreed to, the princely sum of R1150 (about £25)
This took about 30 mins to process and then it was off to Customs.
I took the red aisle as I was carrying commercial goods, and had been advised that everything had been arranged with the Prime Minsters office to allow me and my equipment in to Mauritius without any problems, how wrong I was.
Apparently, no such communication had been relayed to the MRA (Customs) and yes you've guessed it, everything except my personal items were detained pending a guarantee and a letter from my hosts, this despite my host being present at the airport and summoned to assist.
Off we went to my accommodation and we'd sort everything out the next day.
I arrived at Mon Choix, where I had stayed before to be met with a very welcome glass of Joan's rum punch and a very nice steak dinner.
And so to bed, the next installment of this saga will be written later tonight, but for now I must away to pick up my exhibition materials and to deliver the prize to the winner (more on that later!)

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