It wasn’t until today that I finally wished I had mail service like I was used to have in the United States. Today, I found out someone else has been using my credit card.

My credit card company wanted to cancel my card immediately. Normally I would have been all for this. I would get a replacement card in the mail in a matter of days, so there would only be a few days without one. No matter what there would be the inconvenience of having to get the autopays onto the new card.

It’s not that simple living in Mexico. There isn’t mail service here like there is in the United States. No delivery to the house or a traditional post office. There aren’t even street numbers. People can make up street names – at least in Todos Santos – without government approval.

Here people pay about $200 a year (with up to four people on a box allowed at most places) for a box in town by a private company. (I pay less than $60/year for my box in the U.S.) Mail is sent to an address on the U.S. border in San Diego County in the person’s name. Then it is brought down the Baja peninsula – all 1,000-plus miles. Delivery can take days or weeks.

I don’t have this service because I don’t know how long I’m going to be here. Plus, for a variety of reasons I want to keep my South Lake Tahoe address.

I have friends in Tahoe retrieving my mail from my post office box. The U.S. Postal Service sends me an email when a letter arrives. The problem is there is not always a scan of the item, so I need my friend to tell me what has arrived. If action is required, like scanning and emailing tax documents, it’s no biggie. Friends who visit bring me my mail. They all take mail back with them. A friend on her way to the States is mailing stuff for me this week.

Getting mail in a timely manner hadn’t been an issue until now.

The credit card. That’s a situation I had not given any thought to until today.

The company will allow me to keep using the compromised card for 21 days. Then I’m without a credit card. This is my only credit card.

My sister will be arriving here shortly after the expiration date and I will be flying out that same day. I’ll need a credit card on the other end in order to pick up the rental car. Our flights overlap by a couple hours. It is now imperative we see each other. My new credit card is being shipped to her address. She is my courier for this transaction.

I’m guessing if I didn’t have the sister connection, I would have “borrowed” a friend’s box here to have the credit card delivered. Still, it gives me pause to be appreciative for the U.S. mail service. And to think it’s only 55 cents to send a letter. What a bargain, what a convenience. It’s not something I will take for granted any longer.

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