How Long Until my Stuff is Here?
In this age of near instantaneous delivery options, the question of how long it might take to get an item ordered, then shipped, between Spain and Béxar becomes of particular interest.
Perhaps a nice mantel clock would look handsome in your home. How long would it take to get it?
The journey from Cadiz to Vera Cruz (more than 6,700 miles) alone took more than sixty days. The overland journey from there to Béxar (800 miles) tacked on another month or more. So, to get anything from Spain by special order would take a minimum of six months. More often, though, it might take more than a year.
There were a host of events that might slow down the process:
• Revenue officials might delay the shipment due to tax enforcement issues;
• Shippers and carriers might require a “consideration” to make your item a priority;
• Pirates, bandits, or weather might delay transit all along the way.
Each of these occurrences would add costs to the price of the item. A clock in Béxar might cost three times what it would in Spain.
Itinerant merchants and peddlers who made it as far as Béxar with more mundane items like pots and pans, bulk cloth, rope, and wire would have had charged high prices because of all the intervening handling of each of these items, with each stage adding a markup.
Unless, of course, these trade items came from “alternative” sources. The near approach of the French added another supplier for everyday items. Indians, too, seemed to be able to procure inexpensive trade items–by whatever means. Then, too, there was a very long coastline that might welcome ships laden with undocumented goods. Béxareños and other Tejanos soon learned to not question the source of these items . . . as long as the prices were right.