One of the things that Americans take for granted is the USPS (United States Postal Service). It has always worked pretty reliably for me and is affordable. For an organization that handles over 160 billion pieces of mail a year to only have occasional delays is pretty amazing. In South Africa, the Postal Service is only reliable for its unreliability.
Our home doesn’t even have a mailbox. We’ve occasionally arrived home to see a letter stuck in the door. These letters have been addressed to a different house number or been for a person no longer living at the address.
Since we’ve been in SA a few friends have gotten married. When asked for our address, we provided P’s work address hoping that the SAPO (South African Post Office) would complete delivery to a business more timely than to a residence. In both cases, the invitations took over 3 months to arrive and arrived after the actual wedding date. Thankfully our friends let us know via other means.
Most folks recommend paying a little extra to use a courier service like UPS for any international shipments. This can get pretty expensive for day to day mail, so we just avoid using it all together.
I don’t know the causes for the delays. It could be underfunding, lack of skilled labor, poor training, or just not caring. It does appear that this is a long-term issue that everyone just accepts.
The moral of the story is: don’t trust that the SAPO will complete a delivery in a timely fashion.
Ciao for now