Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Retiro: Picking Up a Package Part 2

Ok, here’s the second part of how to pick up a package at Correo Internacional. It’s less fun than the first part—not that the first part was fun—but at the end at least you get your package!


To edit the previous post, there is definitely a big blue Correo Argentina sign on the building, and the door you want is located to the left of the sign. Once you arrive, find the machine that gives you your number (right inside the door) and take the little slip. If your number has three digits, disregard the first digit. This is because the digital screen that displays the numbers only goes from 0 to 99, at which point it starts over again. So if you have 355, disregard the 3 because only 55 will show up on the screen. Important- if there are a lot of people waiting, someone might have the same number but with a different first digit (ie 255 to your 355). If 55 comes up on the screen, approach the counter anyway!! The other boludo might have gone for a sandwich or gotten distracted, so you could jump ahead in line…the counter people don’t care. If the other person shows up with a lower number, just say “Disculpame” and silently curse them.

The other number on the screen will be the counter/caja number (there are 4 or 5 I think). When your number is close to being called, move to the front of the group and be prepared because these people move quickly. Once your number appears on the screen, go to the booth indicated. Hand the employee your (second) notice, along with some form of identification like a copy of your passport your original passport--my roommate Eli went to pick up a package today with just a copy of her passport, was told she needed the original, and had to come alllllll the way home to get it. If you are picking up the package within 4 days of receiving the second notice, you won’t have to pay anything. After the fourth day, you will have to pay 2 pesos per day you didn’t pick it up (there is also an expiration date on the package of 30 days, after which all hell breaks loose and the contents of your treasured package are divided like booty among the CI employees).

Anyway, pay if you have to, then the booth guy will do lots of stamping, tear off a part of your notice, and give it back to you. The little piece of paper that he gives back to you will have a number on the bottom, either 5 or 6 digits, and you will have to sign off again that you received it. Then proceed to the next room, which the employee should point out to you.

Here is where it gets a little bit difficult for non-Spanish-speakers. In earlier instances, the number was displayed on a screen so you could read it and approach when called. In this room, the number is read aloud over a speaker, and you have to listen very carefully for your exact number. They will read all 6 digits, and to make it even harder, different people read the numbers every time, some of who speak ridiculously quickly and apparently with their mouths full of cotton. It’s rough. If your Spanish is a little rusty/nonexistent, I would recommend going with someone who does speak Spanish so they can help you.

*Alternatively, you could cheat a little and just get up whenever, go through the door at the front of the room to where they hand out the packages, and show them your slip saying “No español” or something. I know people who have done this and they get their packages right away. It’s up to you.

If you decide to wait it out or if you speak Spanish, they will call your number eventually and you will go through the little unassuming door at the front of the room. Hand the person your slip and they will give you your package or direct you down to the other end of the room to pick it up. Once you have it in hand, you can head out, signing for the thing one more time on the way out.

And that’s it! Yay package! Again, be careful when heading home, especially in Retiro—a foreigner with an awkward package to carry makes a good target, so keep an eye on your stuff. I have another good Retiro how-to coming up, for those of us who have been here for a while and need to make the dreaded Migraciones trip for an extension of the tourist visa—I went today and it was an experience. Retiro and I are now BFF and I get 90 more days in la Argentina, score.


  1. Please learn from my hot and expensive mistake - take your original passport! It was karma cursing me for laughing at Amy forgetting her passport the day before.

    About the unassuming door - it's really, really unassuming. As in, unmarked. And you have to push it really hard to get it open, and then go through ANOTHER unmarked, closed door. Try to watch where other people go first and follow their lead when it's your turn.

    Also, they might ask what's in the package. This is to assess whether or not you should pay import taxes. You can either say you have no idea which is what I did today and they'll either wave you on or open it, or you can come up with something. Try to make it sound like it's used, since used products have no import taxes while a new product can have up to a 50% tax on its worth. Yikes!

  2. I love your ability to laugh about it. That's the only way to get through it. Don't know if you saw my post on the BA expat forum about the customs guy in our local PO who insisted that English language books printed in English speaking countries are forbidden entry....and only when my Argentine husband showed up did he hand them over! Enjoy what you can, laugh at the rest!