My first experience of mailing stuff home from overseas wasn't as difficult as I was dreading; but then again, it also wasn't without its hurdles. There was no way I was going to cart around all the shmontses and shmutters that I bought this morning, so I quickly made my way to the San Cristóbal oficina de correos (i.e. "post office"), and arranged for it all to be sent Down Under.
I got to the post office with a bag full of my stuff, and I pretty much dumped it on the counter, and indicated: "OK, now what?" The guy behind the counter explained that I needed a box.
"Sure", I replied, "so where are your boxes?"
Post office guy gave me a tired look, as if he was wondering how long it would take for me to understand how all this worked. "We don't have any boxes."
"O... kay...", I replied. "So... where can I get a box?"
"I don't know", post office guy said, shrugging his shoulders. "Maybe the papeleria (stationery shop) one block down will have some."
Crazy — you need a box for all your stuff, but they don't sell boxes, and they don't know where you can get them. Anyway, I went down to the papeleria. They didn't have any boxes for sale, as such, but they sold me an empty cardboard packing box for 5 pesos.
I returned to the post office, and this time I was served by a different guy, who looked more senior. He took one look at my box, took another look at my stuff, and said: "you need a smaller box". I nodded, as if to say: "yeah, I know, but this is all I could find".
He then went behind his desk, and pulled out — believe it or not! — a cardboard box. Ahh, so they do have some! I was starting to get the feeling that this was all some bizarre kind of game. Post office guy Senior then pulled out a Stanley knife and a roll of packing tape, and proceeded to expertly perform surgery on his new-found box, making it the perfect size for its cargo. My oversized 5-peso box was left abandoned.
However, Senior didn't have all the packing materials he needed, so he sent me back to the papeleria to buy some butcher's paper. At 35 centavos (3.5 US cents), this was the cheapest purchase I've made in Mexico, and probably in my whole life. Finally, after wrapping the box in paper, Senior was satisfied that my package was ready to be processed.
Turns out that mailing packages overseas is quite expensive in Mexico. The package was just under 1kg, and it set me back 280 pesos, which is around about what I paid for the stuff inside the package as well. Senior reckons that air mail is the only option available, and that the package will arrive home in Australia within 2 weeks. I gave Senior 5 pesos on the side, for all the help he gave me.