Today marked a big step in leaving for Europe. Our two large rolling duffel bags filled with art supplies and some items we will not need until we reach Atelier de la Rose were picked up today. They are due to arrive in Montcabrier in 2-3 weeks, 3-4 weeks prior to our arrival.
It is very difficult to turn our paint, brushes, pastels, papers, canvases, and easels over to a shipping company. However, there is no other way to get them to France without schlepping them through multiple airports and train stations along the way.
The entire international shipping process is confusing to those of us who are new to it. Many of the details are assumed and one must constantly remind the agents that they are dealing with fragile artists who need to have their hands held through the process. The bags were supposed to be picked up yesterday, but we had not received any of the paperwork yet. Of course they weren’t picked up. We received the paperwork by Email this morning and were told the pickup would be between 2 and 5pm. First, they would send us bar code labels to afix to each.
I was working outside when I felt my phone vibrate at the same time a UPS truck pulled up in front – 11:30am! The driver explained that he had gotten the pickup order when he was in the neighborhood and decided to come early. I explained that I hadn’t printed the bar code labels yet and they then needed to be attached to the bags. He agreed to wait a few minutes while I printed the labels and taped them to the back of the shipping labels I had already attached. It was a whirlwind of activity for a few minutes.
One of the strange parts of this process is that the company handling our shipment is XSBaggage. However, they are sending the bags via UPS! Their rates are significantly less than we would have gotten by going directly to UPS. This is a part of captialist commerce that I fail to understand. I assume that XS Baggage buys unused space on UPS planes, but that’s only a guess.
Anyway, it is now out of our control. We can only hope that our painting materials arrive safely.