Tag Archive | shipping

Moving a container from Houston to Panama


We had been in Panama almost a year before I acquiesced and agreed to shipping our worldly belongings here. By that time we had spent on storage an amount approximating the cost of shipping.  Also, maybe primarily, it was increasingly looking like we were in Panama to stay.  We lightly considered selling our possessions while still in the states, but that didn’t happen.  And at this point that was no longer an option.

We made this decision to ship shortly before an already-booked trip back to Texas, the purpose of which was to make ready for sale the last of my airplanes, vestiges of my days in the Caribbean.

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By now we were aware of the requirement to have all shipping boxes numbered and inventoried, something that made the whole shipping process considerably more difficult.  I guess it should have been common sense, but it never occurred to us.   On the earliest boxes stored, we had listed the contents,  but none of the boxes were numbered.  And scarcely half of our possessions were properly boxed for shipping.

I had no unrealistic plans or goals for accomplishment in the day or two I would have available to address this situation, but I could get a good feel for what was involved.  Starting with major items that were not yet boxed, it soon became apparent that this would be no walk in the park.  I got maybe the first 30 boxes numbered and inventoried on a spreadsheet before my available time was all gone.

It was to be another six weeks before I could get back to Texas.  Not intending to leave until I had the container ready for loading, I left Panama without a ticket for the trip back.

Anxious as I was to get the packing squared away, dealing with the airplane was still the number one priority.  I ended up devoting my first two weeks to the plane.   A pattern was soon emerging.  Everything I tackled was taking about twice as long as expected.  When I left Panama I thought vaguely of returning around the end of April.  In fact, by late April I was just finishing with the plane.   To add to the pressure, still light at this point, my lady had scheduled a trip of her own for the 22nd, more than three weeks away.  Shouldn’t really be a problem, I thought.  Yeah, right.  About a week before her scheduled departure things were looking really iffy for me.  Not wanting to wait until the last minute to buy my airline ticket, I booked a flight that put me in Panama the day before she left.   As the departure date neared, I thought just one more day would see me finished.  But alas, rescheduling for me would be easier than rescheduling for her.  At this point, the boxes inventoried and labeled numbered exactly 400.

Five days after she returned from her trip, I was on my way back to Texas.  I allowed two weeks for what I thought would be, at the most, one week of work.  In fact, I was hoping to be finished in only a day or two.  Uh uh.   Clearly, I would finish within the time I’d allotted but the 2 week allowance was prudent.

I decided it wasn’t excessively reckless to take two days off on the  first weekend of my trip.  My grandkids had planned a Fathers’ Day gathering at a lake house with their father, my son.  All three of  his kids and all of their mates/significant others would be in attendance, as well as the first grandchild and great-grandchild that I’d seen on only one other occasion.


The reunion was a rare opportunity these days.  Everyone is scattered all over the state.  And beyond in my case.  Too bad my daughter and her family weren’t there as well.  Except for the kids in Austin, her family will remain away 2,000 miles and more until early fall.

Not coincidentally, our storage units were very close to the house we moved from.  (Yeah, I know.  that should be “the house from which we moved”.   Please see disclaimer under “About the blogger”.)  Our former next door neighbors were kind enough to provide me lodging until I returned to Panama.  Only 1/2 mile away from the work,  their home was extremely comfortable, convenient and efficient.

We had four storage units in total.  Three 10×10 and one 10×20.  They seemed filled to the gills.  Thinking that I was almost finished with box number 400 turned out to be just a bit optimistic.  The final count ended up at 655.  With the end of packing in sight, I began to wonder whether or not  everything would fit in a 40 ft container.  After careful consideration, I concluded that if the container were properly loaded, ie with boxes to the ceiling and absolute minimal voids, it could be done.  Turns out the guys loading it did a great job and I realized early on there would be no problem with space.  And there wasn’t.

The container was to be picked up the following Monday and I was soon on my way back to Panama.  In a few weeks, more or less, the whole process would be repeated in reverse.  Oh, joy.