Can you ever fully prepare yourself?

Published on 9 April 2013

When relocating to another country, you want to prepare yourself as much as possible. And so did Wim and Marjan, a Dutch couple who moved over to the beautiful island of Curacao in the summer of 2011.

Wim accepted a job as a pastor in one of the local churches. And while Wim was saying goodbye to his old community and its members, Marjan prepared their departure and all paperwork  involved with the move. I met with the happy couple a few days ago, and eager to learn about their experiences of living on this sunny spot.

Their goods arrived on time in the harbor of Willemstad but could not be cleared due to a new computer system that customs recently started using. And despite the fact that no document was missing to clear their container, it got delayed because of a failing computer system, causing demurrage. And additional cost…….When the system finally worked again, the container was only released after Wim and Marjan paid a few hundred Euro’s – which customs would not reimburse. That amount, as they stated, had to be refunded to the couple by his employer; the church /being semi governmental. But that appears to be quite a challenge, as nobody can make a final decision and their request was waved from one desk to another…Such a small island, but so much bureaucracy.

They are there for almost 2 years now and really ‘landed’; Marjan has started her own business and is coaching people who work in the health sector. And funny; you might expect a lot of paperwork, time and efforts to be involved (the bureaucracy) but it was organized in no-time. Wim meets of lot of people from all over the world, as during the holiday season a lot of tourists find their way to his church (think about the enormous cruise ships that carry 3000 guests!).

Unfortunately, they also met with a dark side as Wim was robbed from his bag while being in his car, only a few months after they arrived. He was lucky that his bag was found again and the ‘only’ things missing were his cash money, drivers-license and mobile phone. Emotional painful was that he also lost pictures of his parents and sister, who passed away. So, he is far more careful nowadays. And although this was of course an unpleasant experience to which you can never prepare, it has not scared them and they feel very happy and blessed to be living on the island; Wim cannot imagine going back to the Netherlands. “I have not worn an overcoat in 2 years, isn’t that just great?”

And wouldn’t it be wonderful if they would finally receive the refund for their demurrage-cost this summer, after 2 years?!  Speaking about bureaucracy…