Saturday, August 24, 2013

Coming to America

We arrived in the States from Australia about a week ahead of Roel’s bike. We spent this time getting acclimated to the States, shopping and surprising my mother at her 60th birthday party (if you’ve never made the opportunity to do this for someone in your life, I highly recommend it – it’s priceless).

We also tried to prepare ourselves as best as possible for what would be needed to get the Africa Twin through customs without missing a beat. Roel had poured over the blogs and threads written by other overlanders about their experiences importing bikes in to the States. So, we thought we knew everything we needed to know until we called Customs and found out a few more things. The most important thing was that in addition to having the EPA approval (which had finally come through the day before), we needed to have a Custom House Broker work with Customs on our behalf to get the bike through Customs. This came as a surprise, and with us trying to watch every penny, it was not a welcome surprise.

My wonderful Godfather drove us to Tampa International Airport the morning Roel’s bike was set to arrive. Through speaking with several different customs agents and Delta employees we learned that we did indeed “need” a customs agent to secure a Custom House Bond to allow the bike to be imported into the country. We found a great guy named Tony who came through for us big-time in the end. There was a delay in getting the bond approved and at 5pm we saw the customs office closing and thought we’d have to wait until the next day, drive an hour back to Tampa again and go through the same hoops. However, Tony somehow managed to get a less than friendly Customs officer, who wouldn’t even speak to us, to stay at work a half-hour past quitting time. That alone was a miracle.
With the necessary documents stamped, we got Roel’s bike out of the Delta storage hangar and set about to putting the bike back together. It was truly a team effort with Tony staying even later to assist, and grease the wheels with the Delta employees to lend us a hand with their forklift and air compressor. Everyone was amazingly helpful and we were on the road to Sarasota before dark.

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