Postcards – a dying story

Saturday, 21 May 2016

A couple of years ago I blogged about the disappearance of postcards in our Instagram and email age. Well two years later I’m still regularly sending postcards to my last two card recipients: my 91 year old mother and Maureen’s 94 year old Aunt Kate. In that last blog I complained that 1. although postcards were (in most countries) still easy to find it was 2. often difficult to find stamps and then 3. even more difficult to find somewhere to mail them.

From my recent travels I sent back 5 postcards to each of my venerable card collectors. I encountered the standard problem 2 and 3 at three of the locations and those same 3 places (Guatemala, Cuba and Panama) also brought up problem 4. Will the card ever arrive?

IMG_3809 - 5 postcards - 540▲The postcards clockwise from the top left corner: Panama – views of the Panama Canal, Cuba – a 1959 Cadillac at the Varadero Beach, USA – Statue of Liberty, UK – Big Ben, Guatemala – Mayan ruins at Tikal.

Now these days you can fly from pretty much any reasonable size city to pretty much any other reasonable size city in less than 24 hours, usually with a stop in Dubai at the mid-point. So how long should it take a card to get from Anywhere A to Anywhere B? Let’s say 2 days to take the card from postbox to sorting room to airport in A, then another 2 days to take it from flight 1 to flight 2 when it passes through Dubai and finally 2 days to deliver the card in B. That’s 6 days plus the day in the air makes 7 days altogether, right? Then we’ll double that to give them plenty of time and you should be able to send a card and count on it arriving within 14 days? Right? Well generally wrong.

IMG_6077 - Havana mailbox - 270From London and New York my cards did arrive in a week to 10 days. And so they should. From Guatemala it proved very difficult to find a place to mail the card, eventually I found a dubious slot at Guatemala’s main post office labelled ‘buzón’ and sent it off. It arrived 32 days later.

◄ The Cuba mail box was even harder to find. Yes, that’s it. And from there to Melbourne took 44 days.

Finally Panama where I never found a post office or a mailbox, but I did find a DHL office which insisted they would send postcards for a suitable high fee. Not much faster though, it took 43 days.

Caddy on Route 66 - 540▲ PS – the 1959 Cadillac on the Cuba postcard was in honour of the ’59 Caddy with which I made two trips across the USA (eastbound and then westbound) back in 1994. Mine was baby blue, rather than pink, but an equally fine example of Detroit Iron.