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Initial Experiences with the Postal Service in Latin America

Published November 25, 2021 in Bolivia , Mexico , Personal Stories & Opinions - 0 Comments

My very first time ever using the postal service was when I was living in Bolivia well over half a decade ago.

I was getting ready to travel around Latin America a little more afterwards.

First spend some brief time in Peru before catching a flight to Argentina.

My plan in Argentina involved taking some classes so a laptop would’ve been helpful.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have a laptop with me when I went to Bolivia.

So I had my parents ship me my old laptop that I had laying around back home in Iowa.

A laptop shipped from Iowa to Bolivia.

What could go wrong?

Well, I don’t know what shipping service my dad used and we all know that is important for getting something somewhere.

Initially though, it looked like the laptop was traveling at a decent pace.

At least in the US.

Tracking its journey in the US, it was being shipped normally.

No mystery whatsoever.

The second it landed in South America, however, it was like it vanished into a black hole.

From what I remember, it arrived to Chile first.

And Chile can’t be so bad when it comes to shipping, right?

After all, it’s known as one of the most developed countries in Latin America.

Surely those Chileans know how to handle shipping, right?


As I said, you literally could’ve put the laptop onto a rocket and send it to a literal black hole.

The difference between that and Chile would’ve been nothing.

For some reason, it got stuck in Chile simply and the tracking never indicated that it left the country for Bolivia.

Always stuck perpetually in Santiago specifically.

Suffice to say, my dad has always had considerable doubts about shipping anything ever again to anywhere in Latin America since then.

But, about a year ago, I tested the waters once again with shipping services in Latin America.

This time in Mexico.

And, as we all know, not all of Latin America is the same.

Perhaps those pesky Chileans couldn’t handle delivery services but we can trust the Mexicans to do a stellar job, can’t we?

Waiting for a Letter in Mexico City

Over a year ago starting at around August 2020, I was told that a letter would be sent me way soon enough.

It had to do with an aunt that died and how I would be receiving some inheritance.

By then, I let my mom know to tell the right people that they needed to postpone sending me the letter until I moved to my new address.

I was living in Pedregal de Santo Domingo and was just about to move to Centro Historico of Mexico City.

By the time I moved, I let them know my new address and began waiting for the letter.

Now, given the significance of the letter, you would think the important folks handling all matters concerning the estate would use a solid delivery service, no?

I have no idea what delivery service they used to be fair.

But, thinking about it, I would think that maybe they would use something beyond the typical mail service in Mexico so that it arrives promptly.

And I waited.

It never showed up.

I was at that apartment for almost 2 months roughly speaking and checked for it a few times.

Even checked on it with the landlord of the building after I moved a few times but it never showed up.

So, for over 2 months, the letter simply never arrived.

Did it arrive after that time period to that building?

Who knows.

The landlord of the place never reached out to me concerning any letter addressed to me.

Similar to the laptop in Chile, this letter was also sent into a black hole essentially.

Though, to be fair, I did have a few successes at shipping in Latin America.

Success with Domestic Shipping

The only time I have ever had any success with shipping in Latin America was when it was done domestically.

Those instances were always in Mexico and involved using Mercado Libre.

For those who don’t know, Mercado Libre is a website in Latin America used to buy things that I wrote a review on here.

Despite some scams on the website, it’s always worked for me.

Most of the things I’ve had delivered domestically to me from Mercado Libre were gym weights.

So I’ve had some success with shipping in Latin America but never internationally!

But let’s get now to my latest dilemma regarding shipping down here.

Can a Gringo Get a Debit Card?

In order to live in Mexico or anywhere outside the US, I need a functional debit card.

I work remotely.

Get money deposited into my US Bank account.

No money is directly handed to me in hand for the work I do.

I need the debit card from my US Bank account that doesn’t have a branch in Mexico to use any money I have.

And that debit card expires January 1, 2022.

In a month and 6 days as I write this.

And now I think about the past.

The laptop and the letter never showed up despite a few months of waiting.

Of course, I could take a “break” to the US and handle the issue up there and then come back to Mexico.

But, as I wrote here, I’ll illegal in Mexico.

Wait – I thought nobody was illegal?

Anyway, as you can see in that last article cited, my legal status in Mexico is “questionable” and Mexico has actually been cracking down on gringos who live down here on tourist visas (FMMs).

With some being denied entry into Mexico and others being given significantly less time to be in the country (a week or two).

Others who haven’t been living down here on tourist visas and still getting like 15 days in the country when they can prove that they’ll be here for just 34 days or something like that.

And, as it relates to the topic, some thinking on all of this has made me contemplate how to move forward with my time in Mexico.

I’d like to, as I wrote here previously, spend just 6 more months in the country for the 5 year anniversary of my time here.

But, with the recent developments regarding how Mexico has been treating long term folks living here on the tourist visa, I have doubts I’d be let back in for another 6 months if I were to leave the country.

After the 5 year anniversary, I’d then like to begin traveling Latin America after some time home.

So, given that risk, I’ve contemplated how to move forward with the issue of the debit card since I need it to live here.

I have 2 ideas.

First, keep the new paypal card in Iowa (I had to renew that too) and have a trusted family member give me the information on it.

In case the debit card doesn’t arrive, I can at least use the info from the Paypal card that is in Iowa to purchase anything I need online (send rent payments by Paypal, order food and other necessities on Rappi or Uber Eats, etc).

Do that for 6 months and done.

And, in the meantime, hope the debit card actually arrives to my next address (I’ll be moving to a new apartment in the next week or so).

At any rate, let’s at least try to offer some helpful information regarding how to get something shipped properly to you in Latin America.

Given my situation, I’ve done a tiny bit of research on the subject but I’m no expert on how to successfully get something shipped down here.

Though I am an expert on getting shit in the mail seemingly stolen!

So let’s wrap it up on that.

Any Tips?

From what I can tell, it’s pretty basic what I need to do supposedly.

Reminds me of that quote that goes something like “what is cheap ends up expensive.”

If you opt for a cheap and public delivery service, then you get shit service.

If you opt for a private and more costly delivery service, then things are good supposedly.

In asking some friends about this, they all agreed that you can’t rely on the “correo de Mexico."

With some gringo friends of mine agreeing on the same that you basically need to use a private service like USPS, UPS, FedEx or DHL.

When reading about this topic, I also found this bit here.

“Adhere to your carrier’s country conditions for mailing. Consult your carrier to determine if any items are prohibited from being sent to Mexico through their service. Many carriers have conditions beyond Mexico’s requirements for the type of items they accept in packages. These vary from carrier to carrier.

For the US Postal Service, for example, perishable food items, jewelry, currency, radioactive materials, work infringing on Mexican copyrights, lottery tickets, cosmetics, and more are not accepted in packages to Mexico.”

From what I’ve heard from others, it doesn’t seem like a debit card would be denied.

Anyway, that’s all I could find on the topic.

The advice seems pretty basic.

Maybe the laptop and inheritance letter were not shipped with any of the companies above?

I have no idea.

But, in the coming month, you’ll probably get an update from me as to if I got the card or not whenever I edit this article.

And it’ll be clear if I did or not since, if I don’t, my time in Mexico might end 6 months earlier than expected and I’ll simply switch gears to spending some brief time in Iowa before beginning my next step of the journey to travel Latin America again.

But that’s all I got to say for now.

If you have anything to add or any advice to give me or others reading regarding this topic, drop a comment below in the comment section.

And follow my Twitter here.

Thanks for reading.

Best regards,


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