Posts Tagged ‘Immigration’

Fiji Time

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

At the end of July we went to Fiji immigration in Nadi.  Our Visa was up  August 26, and we wanted to stay until November (ish). We could always fly out of the country and return. Many cruisers do a round trip to Vanuatu all in a day. The cost for W/ and I would be almost the same as applying for an extension.  We felt the hassle of leaving the boat, packing, traveling to the airport, getting stamped out of Fiji, getting stamped into Vanuatu and out on the same day; often catching the same plane back, would have been a PITA.  We opted for the extension.

At the immigration office we had to fill out more paperwork. Once completed we discovered the immigration officer gave us the wrong paperwork not understanding how long we were staying. We filled out a few more pages. Then with copies of our Passports, boat papers, a bank statement (showing we have enough money to not be a burden on the country), and about $500 Fijian dollars we walked out with a receipt and a nod to return to any immigration office after two weeks for our new visa stamps.

We worried that we would need to hang around Nadi for two weeks. But;  the officer assured us we could continue enjoying Fiji and receive the passport stamps at any immigration office.
It took us 3 weeks to travel to Savusavu.  We were a week past our Visa but we had our receipt. In the US I don’t know what they would have done. Hell, with some of the current vitriol we may have been shot being illegal immigrants! 🙂  Fortunately, Fiji is understanding and intelligent in these matters but they are not nearly as timely as much of the western world.

Upon arrival in Savusavu and getting settled with the boat we took our documents to the immigration office for our  passport stamps. About 15 minutes later the officer said the extensions had not yet been approved and to come back next week.  She DID NOT  say “oh-oh, you need to leave”!  We had our receipt and that seemed to entitle us our continued cultural experience.
Roughly tens days pass and we decide to check again with the immigration office. We are thinking of heading out Monday for anchorages unknown. With that trip in mind we need to know if we must stop by other immigration offices or not.  By now we are approximately 6 weeks after our application and 4 weeks past our visas.

Luck was with us. The Immigration officer said our application had been approved. However we needed to return Monday. They needed a fax/email from the head office and we needed to pay another approximately $200 F.  Still a better deal than flying out and back in one day.
When you talk of accomplishing tasks in Fiji one often hears “Fiji Time”.  The understanding is that the task will get completed but not in the time you expect. It may be later today, tomorrow or next week. Often the follow up to Fiji time is Siga na liga.  No Worries.  What a pleasant way to travel life’s paths.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

A Sad Good-Bye, to Penrhyn

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

It is the end of Penrhyn as we know it.  Monday as I said Rose ferried us over to Omoka where we needed to see Papa Ru (the immigration officer) for our outbound clearance as well as pay the fees.

There is a $3 / day anchoring fee, and $65/ person exit fee and since we stayed over 30 days we also have a $120 / person fee for an extended stay clearance.  While those fees are higher than most other countries for us our costs here have been lower as there are no restaurants, no hardware stores and only a couple of grocery stores with limited items.

Thus, our stores on board are low, low, LOW!  We are down to 1/2 case of beer, ZERO Oreo’s, actually zero treats, a few cans of meat left, fewer still of vegetables, a little tea and little coffee (if we run out of coffee W/ will make my life miserable!). We are also getting very low on gas and diesel.

I almost bought some more diesel from one of the boats visiting but my intermediary; Rio, was in Rarotonga during that time and I didn’t know really how to go about it.  We started our extended stay here with 200 gallons and we are down to about 60.  I wanted to leave with one of the wing tanks 50 gallons full for the main engine and then a few gallons to keep the generator running on our passage.

Monday took most of the day. Traveling to Omoka from Tetautua is akin to traveling in to any big city from the burbs.  It was close to an hour across

Rose - Our Captain

Rose - Our Captain

the lagoon and an hour back, then doing the official dance, saying Goodbye to some of the people there we know and heading back. Oh, and don’t forget “IceCream”!

Lonnie and Bona (from the sv Good News) came with us as they had only cleared in at Omoka, spent a a few hours anchored there to check in and they wanted to see Omoka as a tourist.  While Papa Ru was having to receive some info from Rarotonga he loaned us his motor bike to check out the new power plant they were building and visit anywhere else we might wish.  Rose had a motor bike from some of her extended family there and loaned it to Lonnie and Bona so the 4 of us took off down the main highway with W/ and I as tour guides. We stopped to look at the progress they were making in the new solar power plant, then on to the International airport. There we chatted a bit and pointed out Manongi’s grocery where we were able to purchase propane, beer, good NZ ground beef, great NZ juice, and other sundry goods – whatever she had that W/ wanted.

Rhomanda, Never Give Up!

Rhomanda, Never Give Up!

We arrived back to find Rose and Rhomanda hanging out under a shade tree with Rhomanda working on opening a coconut by hand and mouth. No lack of creativity here!  While Rhomanda worked away at it I walked over to Ru’s and borrowed the tool that is used by all the South Pacific Islanders to husk coconuts. I felled a couple from the Palm and set about to de husk one immediately breaking through the nut. I forgot to work on the coconuts end. Rose kindly; maybe emphatically pushing me aside, took over and the couple of nuts that were left she had shucked in, oh! say … close to a minute making me; as usual, feel a bit useless.  Ru was still trying to get with Raro on our exit visa so we waited all the while I watched for the new store to open. I watched because I had heard they had ice cream!  A bit later after the store owners returned from delivering lunch to the workers at the power plant the store was opened whereupon W/ and I walked in to buy some ice cream for everyone.  While their flavors were limited; when you don’t get exactly what you wish with ice cream some ice cream is better than none so out I went with a cone of Orange Chocolate! 🙂  Sweet!

Somewhere noonish or so Ru returned and we paid our bill and thanked him immensely for assisting us in our long term

Papa Ru, the friendliest Immigration Officer in the WORLD!

Papa Ru, the friendliest Immigration Officer in the WORLD!

stay. I don’t think we could have found a better place to hang for the South Pacific Cyclone season. We then headed back to the 20′ or so Aluminum boat with a 15 hp Yamaha and slightly bent back prop blades to head back to Tetautua.

Our jobs now were to ready Elysium for the passage.  If we work hard it requires about 6 hours to pack and store stuff preparing the boat for offshore but we figured to do the job over a day or so, leaving Wednesday. To mildly complicate matters Kura asked us in for a final farewell dinner (Kai-Kai) Tuesday evening. We had planned on having the dinghy up and stored for passage; however, Lonnie volunteered to chauffeur us ashore so we could indeed enjoy a last feast with our friends in Tetautua and still ready the boat.

To store the dinghy for offshore we lift it up, flip it, deflate it, cover it and  slide it inside the boom gallows on top of the aft cabin. We built a cover for it and install that as well protecting the dinghy fabric from errant fish hooks or anything unimaginable damaging the Hypalon fabric.  After all, it is now our only car!  We then secure the dinghy wedged between the pushpit  supports and I added a pad eye on the aft cabin to secure the stern. The mainsheet clears the aft end of the dinghy by a couple of inches.

The rest of the time is checking things over. Oil in the engines, transmission fluid levels, packing items in lockers that will not see the light of day again till we reach our destination, W/ frantically (not quite the right word but close) begins preparing easy to reheat meals for offshore as well as some goodies for snacks (Brownies). I close off the forward seacocks, we move the Drifter-Reacher out to the forward head for easy launching and stowage, we get out the spare rigging bag for cotter pins (mostly), the spare bag for the self steering gear as there always seems to be a need there, We remove and stow the sail covers, attach halyards and tie off, stow a solar panel, stow and secure the outboards, make sure each locker is securely latched, move electrical connections so the navigation computer and iPad always have power. Then we look around again and make sure nothing can slide off the shelves / counters  and onto the floor, we prepare the lee cloths for our berths, we make up our sea berth preferring to hot berth it instead of having separate ones. In the worse case weather we do have two berths with lee cloths.  We harvest ice and make more running the generator longer than normal, make sure we have enough water in the tanks or make more as needed.   Once we pull the anchor we tie make sure both bow anchors are tied off too.

I remember one boat making a short trip longer than they needed because they didn’t tie their anchors off in the Marquesas. About a mile into their 5 nm voyage they found their boat slowing down next to nothing. Upon closer inspection the captain had discovered his anchor had bounced free and took all 300′ of chain with it now dangling directly below the boat.  He had quite a time in a rolling sea retrieving the anchor and all that chain back aboard.

Our Hosts

Our Hosts

So …we are ready, Lonnie picks us up and we visit Tetautua for the last time. About 1/3 of the village is there and we chat away as food is heaped on the table.  Food wise. people here spare no expense. There is a little bit of everything, most all natural with no food additives and all healthy.  As usual we sit down with the other guests; the family waits till the guests are all satisfied, and after we retire they begin to eat. I don’t think I will ever get used to being singled out and respected that much.

Go Slow
Sail far
Stay Long

Lima North

Friday, June 7th, 2013

When we’re in range of decent internet I love to play chess. I play on FICS which is a rated chess server (free) and I play people my own level in real time from all over the globe.  Mostly I enjoy playing but there are times when I for some odd reason give away points and games to no end. Then I’m motivated to do something else; it’s time to update my blog. I try to stay roughly two weeks behind in the blog as respite  provides me enough time for my thoughts to ferment and coalesce.

Cui, A national delicacy in Peru

Cui, A national delicacy in Peru

As for Lima, we flew into the city; again.  At the Airport in Cusco we were standing in line talking away to anyone that tolerated our still limited Spanish or who spoke English. Two people behind us we found some sailors too that had decided to spend time in Peru. Their boat was in Curacao,  so we had lots in common. We talked about Machu, Cui, and altitude sickness. We talked like old friends.

After our arrival in Lima checking in to our hotel we again connected with Leslie and Dave of the sv Texas Two Step. There we traipsed about Lima,

Wendy and Leslie walking down the Cliffs of Lima

Wendy and Leslie walking down the Cliffs of Lima

walking down to the shore and telling tall tales. Dave too felt the jitters on a nearby similar hike called Machu Picchu (not the National Park by the mountain) and I felt relief. Dave is a commercial helicopter pilot and still works a few months every year. Had I understood that a vocation like his would have allowed me 6 months of work and 6 months of play I would have jumped ship from education long ago. But hind site is always 20/20 and for better or worse we are where we are.

Tennis in Lima on the Pacific Coast

Tennis in Lima on the Pacific Coast

The four of us ate at Al Fresco‘s and I had my new favorite dish “Cevichi”,  and I was in Heaven!  More then heaven because right across the street were half a dozen red clay tennis courts.

We are always looking for the perfect place to stop for extended periods of time; like 10 years or so, and Lima was moving quickly to the top of our list. Great food, lots of Tennis, a multitude of activities, and  friendly people.

But we’ve not yet seen the rest of the world so we do feel the need to move on. After the day with Texas Two Step’s crew we retired to prep for our return home. Maria; our Peru Travel Agent, is picking us up the following day for a visit to the Park of the Fountains and then we’ll be dropped off at a wonderful seaside restaurant for our last supper; only symbolically.

The fountains were highlights of imagination as we’ve never seen so many different ones in one area. Oh, yeah; places in the US have fountains but never a park of them. And of course for a town built next to the sea, beside a river, and in a desert, water is certainly a wonder. Here too,

Tunnel of Water and Light

Tunnel of Water and Light

in all of water’s glory were a dozen fountains, some with high shooting water falls, some where children could play, one we

Lima's Premier Water Front Restaurant

Lima's Premier Water Front Restaurant

walked through and others with a variety of undulating  displays. An hour or so later we were dropped off on the Pacific Ocean for dinner.

The following morning we finished our packing and prepared to exit the country; or so we hoped.  We had round trip tickets to Panama but as we had no other tickets leaving the country we were a little concerned. Countries; including the US, don’t like non citizens entering without plans of leaving. We had given  all our boat papers that Shelter Bay had requested for the next year’s cruising permit for our boat but we had not heard from them.

I had called John; the manager before we left Panama and he assured me that they would fax the cruising permit to us and then entry into Panama would be without any problems, as now we could show we had passage out of Panama, albeit on our own boat. It would have been sweet. What is often said to be simple is not always the case!

The day we were flying out of Peru we again contacted John and he indicated there was a problem. The Port Captain in Panama needed the current boat registration papers to issue the new permit.  Our problem was we didn’t have the current papers with us. The papers were securely stored in Panama. Since we were in Peru and the papers were in Panama it would be difficult for us to fax them to Panama to get the cruising permit. I could see trouble ahead.

By now I’m quite frustrated and rather irritated. When we had stopped at Shelter Bay in February, I went to the office and asked the staff what they needed to apply for and secure the new cruising permit. I gave them everything they asked for and went away happy that all would now be taken care of. I had the current boat documentation papers with me had they just asked for them. Now; in Peru, we could be trapped, not much different then the Tom Hanks movie, The Terminal.

As most yachties do, we try to have multiple uses for everything and multiple back up plans.  We have two back up plans; three if you count living at the Peruvian Airport for the rest of our lives as one of the plans.  We didn’t count the Airport. The worse case scenario is that we’ll have to purchase a ticket from Panama to the US and once we get it all straightened out then apply for a refund… from the airline. That will obviously cost us some extra dough as Airlines are not real fond of giving anyone their money back today. The other idea was to show the individuals at the airport; should they ask, the boat papers we have that are outdated but shows the boat in Panama; legally, last year. We hope the second idea is the one that works.

Through into the terminal we go. Here as in most places south of the US we have to show two things: 1) a passport – we have, and 2) a ticket we have. If an individual doesn’t have both they don’t even get into the terminal.  So we’ve now made it about 1/4 the way through the gauntlet.  Next we go to the airline check in and the attendant at the turnstiles asks about our trip. We’re going to Panama. And then where she asks. We have a boat there and will take the boat to Australia.  She ponders a minute and then accepts our story and we proceed to the counter. 50% of the way. Maybe we’ll be lucky.

We’re flying COPA airlines and while it seems that with American and Delta we’ve not had this much of an issue in addressing our continued travels, COPA is Panamanian and we surmise there is a little more scrutiny here. At the desk they take our bags and ask where our final destination is. That provides the attendant some pause. The bags stop and they want more info. We provide them our boat papers from the year we entered Panama. He scans them and then calls a supervisor over.  This situation has obviously never happened to them before. The supervisor scans them all the while we’re doing our best to look cool and calm. We are legal but technically we don’t have the current papers showing our boat is in Panama legally. They ask us to wait a few minutes, they need to call Panama.

Ok, I still hope all will be fine but now there is a third individual in the mix. Our agent calls Panama and speaks with a General or Admiral in Immigration and provides him with the details on the Cruising Permit we have. A few minutes later he instructs our attendant to issue the boarding pass and records the name of the official in the computer that said yes, we could return to Panama. We didn’t even sweat through our cloths this time. But we’re still only 75% of the way to the boarding gate, however we’ve reached the summit and are on our way down hill.

At immigration we present our Passports and our Visa, the immigration official takes the Visa and stamps the Passport. What these countries do with all the paper they create I have no idea.  Why any country really needs to know when you have left I don’t understand. No matter what they say I don’t believe all the info is entered into a computer and then cross checked with who entered the country. In Trindad it is all written in a LARGE book in very small print. It seems most countries make it difficult for you to visit and then make it difficult for you to leave.  When we gain entry into a new country with our boat I plan on one day’s time with officials and paper work. Rarely am I disappointed. Even the US makes is difficult for foreigners with boats to travel  and our government likes to talk about how free the US is. Hogwash!

With relief  we have now made it to the gate and wait patiently for our plane. While there we pick up some snacks and looking at the prices I was glad to see such reasonable numbers. Reasonable till I get to the cashier and am told that the prices are in US currency!  Here I thought I was still in Peru. Yet I  am glad they took Soles (Peruvian money). We snacked, read, rested and boarded our plane on time bound for our boat, our home, our womb; Elysium, safely awaiting our return  in a secure yard at Shelter Bay.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Legal…. Again in Panama

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

We’ll; we’ve done it. We had to move to Sapzurro for political reasons. Yep, not every country is as friendly as the US. Panama said one year was enough. Well; come to think of it, most countries are friendlier then the US. The US is so bureaucratically cumbersome that had we been in the US as a foreign national with a cruising boat moving  from one harbor to another a nightmare.  I personally  know of other cruisers that have avoided visiting the US with their boat because of the undo burdens put upon them by our government.  A foreign national with a boat is expected to check in with the authorities whenever they move the boat from one port to the next. And our government doesn’t even know it’s own rules or follow them very well. I’ve spoken with one cruiser that toughed it out and cruised the US. When they call,  the officials are sometimes standoffish and wonder why they called, then other times the official chewed them out because they hadn’t called promptly. What is ironic is that the same people could fly in, rent or buy a car and travel 10 times as far in one day and no one in the government would be the wiser or even care.  Why the US  has this weird affinity towards harassing  foreigners with small boats I don’t know.

Fortunately other countries aren’t like the US in how they treat visitors. In Panama we  fill out some paperwork and are given a cruising permit good for one year at a cost of  $193.00 US.  Then as a cruiser you can get a marinerer’s  immigration stamp.  We checked in in Isla Porviner and paid $100 to immigration for their service and then $5 extra per person. This is $110 bucks more then last year when we checked in.  Additionally, this time when I went into immigration I was informed I had to go back to the boat and pick up W/.  Traditionally the boat captain travels to the necessary offices and acquires the necessary passport stamps for the boat’s occupants.  Last year I went in alone and took care of everything. Since then Panama has changed their policy and all boat occupants needed to present themselves at immigration. Maybe that’s the sign of the times to come. Remember! We had to both go in to Immigration in Sapzurro, Colombia too.  However;  once in the Immigration Officer’s office there was a new added step, they finger printed us. I’m guessing to identify us if something untold happens, then they’ll have the correct body identified. I don’t really think they’ll feed the fingerprint into any database. Not in Panama. Not at this time.

In the end we made it through all the formalities and on a Friday morning to boot, both glad the officials hadn’t decided to add an extra day to their weekend. As westerners and America’s I’m not sure I’ll ever get use to the elastic time in Latin countries. I wonder how time is viewed in the other end of the world and if luck will  have it we’ll know soon enough.

With $303 dollars less in our pockets we can now legally “hang out” in Panama. And with the changes in policy I’m reminded of what Heracles said, “Nothing is permanent in the world except change”.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Sapzurro, Colombia – Bitter Sweet

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

As detailed in one of our previous posts we had some difficulty checking in to Colombia. Not from paperwork issues but from knowledge issues.  Since then I’ve sent all the info to Noonsite so they could update their ports of entry in Colombia. Sapzurro wasn’t listed on their site  but we knew from local knowledge that we could enter and exit Colombia here.

Tied to Shore

Tied to Shore

Successfully cleared in now we moved the boat closer to shore and out of the surge. Surge in harbors can end up causing the boat to roll back and forth making living aboard difficult and living with W/ close to impossible. We upped anchor and squeezed in between a local Catamaran and a back packer boat named Esmeralda.  Once we had the anchor down we dug some spare lines out of the bilge, tied them together and ran it to shore tying it to a tree. Thus,  any surge in the harbor would simply make us pitch a bit (bow to stern) and reduce the roll to almost zero.  However there is a downside to this arrangement.

W/and I HATE bugs.  No See Um’s and Mosquitoes are not prone to increasing anyone’s marital harmony. This close to shore we were now needing to fight the bugs with a physical impediment and  so we put up screens which by the way also reduces air flow. A reduced air flow means hotter nights. Yuck! We fought having to put up screens as long as possible; however the No See Um’s were munching on W/ like she was an all night diner.  The bites alone weren’t enough to drive her insane but there seemed to be some left over effect that during the day she was constantly itchy. So we did three things, we switched soaps wondering if the bugs didn’t just like the soap she was washing with and her skin chemistry, we setup the screens up earlier and we lit a Citrenalla candle inside before we put the screens up.  The three pronged attack seemed to be working and we were surviving in this harbor and ready to enjoy the village.

Going ashore caused me constant consternation. I’m not one for walking beaches. The almost  microscopic sand seems to find places in my hairy legs (yes I don’t shave my legs not being that Urbane)  and I simply abhor getting sand on the boat. However, we either rowed the hard dinghy to the town; a long way away, or we walked the beach. We like walking more then rowing so the beach was it. There we met Jorge  who is a local legend; writer and teacher at the cultural center. He is basically retired but one would never know it. He speaks English (lucky us) and was the Colombian Consulate at their embassy in Panama. We shared many visits with him gathering the things to do and the people to see and the places to go; places to get food, and remember this is Dave and Wendy, so principally it was the places to eat. Finally, we would have something more then Coconut Rice and fried something!

Waterfall, Sapzurro, Colombia

Waterfall, Sapzurro, Colombia

Additionally there were four hikes one could take; over the mountain to Capurgana, to a waterfall, to the Western most point of the harbor and over the Western mountain into Panama and the Beach Miel.  As for restaurants there are half a dozen or so and the best is out by the point.  Basic fare is Fried Red Snapper with rice and salad (not much different than in Kuna Yala but it was much tastier) and then shrimp or  Ceviche. We tried most all the restaurants. 🙂

Ironically; while there are no vehicles in Sapzurro, mostly no roads but wide walk ways, no planes or trains, there is 3G phone service. That means we can communicate with the outside world. After anchoring one of the first things we did was to see about getting a new SIM card. That purchased we then found a place to eat.

Food often being the number one priority; especially of anyone over 30 we sat down at a restaurant where we saw what looked to have some tasty fare. We watched what another customer had just received and when we tried to order we said “That one!”  But as in many small towns we were no longer in a place where service people cater to the

Best Value across from Mystic Roots

Best Value across from Mystic Roots

international tourist. Spanish was the language of the day and discovering what was on the Menu (they didn’t have a physical menu) was tantamount to W/ hitting a 150 mph serve in tennis.  We waited, and tried and waited and finally when the wait staff actually seemed to tire of us we got lucky. The waitress actually asked if someone else in the restaurant could speak English and help. A young college girl (Carolina) offered and she helped make our day. We ordered and Carolina was concerned enough to check and make sure all was well and make sure we knew how much the meal was.  40,000 pesos.  (Rate was 1,750/ US dollar).  We left stuffed. W/ left half her fish.  We left thankful for people like Carolina. We could have easily split one meal. I don’t know if we’re actually eating that much less or if they’re simply serving that much more.

Satisfied we returned to the boat to discover that the SIM card needs to have more money added so we can subscribe to the Data Plan. Back to town… tomorrow. Now we read, rest, read, rest, repeat.

Eventually we get the SIM card working and now have internet only to discover that on the dongle it’s EDGE and the iPhone 3g. So I spend time getting the phone to act as a hotspot; 3g is many times faster then EDGE and eventually I sort it all out. And what we see when the internet is all sorted is we have weather coming.  Specifically rain.  In all the 30 some odd days we hung out here I’m guessing we had half  the days with rain stretching all the way from a drizzle to  a frog strangler.

Wendy Bailing the Dinghy

Wendy Bailing the Dinghy

Therein we were able to read to our hearts content. After about two weeks here we had two straight days of rain, yeah, it was off and on some but mostly on. This  provided us with a spectacular breach in the beach.  We had had so much rain the night before that the marsh area behind the beach filled up with water leaving the beach to act as a filter and dam, cleaning the fresh water as it made it’s way to the bay and holding back the excess. As we were having breakfast we heard this sudden sound of a waterfall. W/ can’t let any change in noise go unnoticed so she sticks her head out of the companionway and says “Oh my God!”.  She rarely ever say’s something calmly like “Dave, you have to see the water coming across the beach”. Immediately I rise to look and see if we’re alright

Start of the Beach Breach

Start of the Beach Breach

believing that there may well be a wall of water approaching the boat and we have to cut the lines and leave now. Instead I see a break in the beach. The break is close to where we’ve tied the line shore and Jorge has wandered over to take a look. He signals us to move a bit farther off  as the water is pulling a great deal of sand with it and we’re not really interested in being surrounded by sand and stuck aground. I let out some more of the line that holds us to the shore and we move another 50′ away.  The breach continues on for an hour or so and then the following several days water continues to trickle out. The light wave action begins to build the damn back up. Jorge indicated that this actually happens several times a year.

Jorge Checking out the Breach

Jorge Checking out the Breach

We find a break in the weather and decided to stroll to the waterfall. At one time the fall was much more active but now the town plumbs to the lake behind it and removes water for their use. However; we did enjoy the falls; after all the rain there was some activity there and the cool water was pleasant  to walk in,  small fish were swimming in the pools immediately below the falls. I wish I had a net and small bowl. I would  like to have seen the fish, see if I could have identified any of them as similar to those we sold in our pet store years ago. Fighting bugs we quickly made way back to town and to try out a new restaurant.

Carlos Enrique Fish Ceviche

Carlos Enrique Fish Ceviche

A short walk from town  we go to the  Carlos Enrique Giraldo Garbner restaurant. It  is said to be the nicest restaurant there and indeed IMHO it was. We each had a guava drink, and salad, while my main course was  Fish Ceviche and W/ had Snapper in a Mango Sauce.  Our cost was 50,000 Pesos. We were the only ones at the restaurant. Luckily we had waited till after the Easter festivities. There didn’t appear much in the way of

Carlos Enrique's Mango Snapper

Carlos Enrique's Mango Snapper

religious celebrations but the town was hopping with hikers, campers and tourists in general. Mostly during that time we hung on the boat. For us the worst part of the holiday was the constant LOUD music played over any number of the speakers at the waterfront. Fortunately, by midnight and 3 am respectively the music stopped and we were able to find some rest. We found the best value restaurant acroos from the Mystic Roots, a hidden place between town and the beach on the west side. We found the most interesting fare at an new place on the East side of town where you could get Pizza’s, Hamburgers and Lasgana of all things.  The pizza we had twice!

Colombian Pizza

Colombian Pizza

We walked the beach, taste tested many of the restaurants, and did some small boat projects for most of the month. Shortly after we had had enough we went to check out of the country. Jorge had helped arrange a launcha to take us around to Capurgana at 7 am and there we could check out and then make our way back to Panama. What should be easy never is.

We arrived in Capurgana early in the am and went to check out when Immigration opened. The sign said 9 so we found a small place for breakfast and had a bite.  Chasing the bugs, cats and dogs away from our food we finished and then meandered back to Immigration to be informed that they were open but couldn’t do anything, no electricity!  When will they have electricity? Maybe 11 or 12. We walk some more. We cover most of the town’s streets and find a nice Hotel / Restaurant ( Las Mananitas ) on the waterfront where we sit and have a couple of fruit drinks. About noon now we wander back to Immigration and they now say the electric will be on at 2!  Dealing with elastic time in the Caribbean can become quite a challenge.  We wander some more, eat lunch at another restaurant and thankfully they exchange some pesos for dollars as we’re just about out of Colombian money. We hadn’t  planned on being here all day and needed 30,000 pesos to pay for the launch to return to the boat.  Well feed, overstuffed actually, and with a lack of burning any real calories we waited some more  for 2 pm to roll around.  We soon find our selves back at immigration near 2 and are now 3rd and 4th in line.  Ok, wait some more.  Two o’clock rolls around and viola, shortly there after they have power! Finally,  hopefully, we figure we will indeed get the paper work completed and  head back to Panama.

A few minutes later the Immigration Officer comes out and says “The computers are not working, it will be at least another hour!”

As time passes we’re getting more and more depressed. We’re wondering if we’ll have to return another day. Our launch was suppose to leave at 2. We spoke with the owner in our broken Spanish and he understood it should be by 3. He said “No Problem”. Now he wanders by the immigration office, sees us waiting and the  Immigration  Officer tells him it should be by 4. Kindly he indicates that still  it’s no problem and we wait.

By now there are about 20 people waiting for immigration to stamp passports.  We are still 3rd and 4th in line but the rules seem to change. Lines are only for those that believe in them.  Close to 3 somehow, something in the connections for the PC’s seemed to work and a cheer went up as their system finally booted.  The officer motions us forward but me being the dummy, went to let the two that were there before us go, instead, some others ran ahead.  Damn am I dumb.

W/ keeps telling me to quit worrying but I’m afraid their system might crash as well. We’ve gone from being 3 and 4, to about 6 and 7. But as I am big I make a valiant attempt to block anyone else getting in front of me.  Our turn eventually arrives and we sit down in front of the officer, he looks at our papers, scans the passport, and stamps everything related to our leaving. With much “Thanks” we leave relieved.

Back to the launch where we wait again to head back to the boat. This wait is sweet. We know we’ll get there, there is no more worries about delays. We watch as others board their launch to go to Obaldia, Panama and we eventually return to the boat. We check the weather.

Tomorrow doesn’t look good, looks like more rain, and from what I can tell it looks like more rain the following day. We prepare anyway. One day we’ll have what looks to be the weather we want.  We understand that Colombia wishes one to leave within 48 hours after receiving their clearance papers but all mariners understand weather can be an issue and to our knowledge no one has been hassled about the time spent waiting. We take the inflatable ashore and clean the bottom. We’ll tow it to our first anchorage so a clean bottom means an easier tow.

That night for some odd reason the music starts up again. It’s Tuesday night. It was loud. Some songs we know, some not. Some Latin songs, some English that are sung in Spanish, but mostly LOUD.  The rains came in the early morn and just about the same time the music shut down. Ahh….. blessed rest.  The following night we end up with the same thing. LOUD music except tonight the music has changed from Latin and POP to TechNO.  And more than that it appears that the tape is an 8 track or something like that playing  over and over and over again.  Too, it was LOUD. So loud I got a decibel meter downloaded to the iPad and found it to be on our boat as loud as the generator, 70-80 decibels. It was LOUD enough that on the other end of the harbor where we were it would rattle some of the locker doors!  Not only that it didn’t stop at 3 am, it went on, till 4, then till 5, then till 6 then…..  . W/ and I decided even if it rained we had to go.

By 7 am the music was still reverberating in  the harbor and we had pulled in our line from shore, upped anchor and were heading out of the harbor. Not till we were around the headlands did we stop hearing the noise. By now it was no longer music for us. Fortunately we had a day without rain but also a day without wind. We motored to Puerto Escoses. There, there was no music, no restaurants, no town and a peaceful night of blessed sleep.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Curacao: Immigration Two Thumbs Down

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

Now understand Curacao is a unique country in that they have an active  hide from the hurricane boating community, a big tourist destination and a shipping industry. Yet in this country they have some of the weirdest laws and regulations I’ve found.

Instead of the usual Customs and Immigration they also have a Harbor Master. When we anchored in Spanse Waters we had to pay the Harbor Master 10 US and inform them which of 4 anchorages (in the same bay) we were in. To move to another anchorage would cost; you guessed it, another 10 US. The other anchorage may only be a 100 meters away but still, we were to pay.

We had been looking for a weather window to head to Aruba. It’s a longish trip to hand steer (we still don’t have the wind vane working) and we wanted to make a daylight crossing. The only written guide of the area suggests to head to the N End of Curacao and then in the am make the crossing. Otherwise the crossing would have to be an overnight. 🙁 Yuk.

We went to Customs and informed them of our desire and they gave us exit papers for two days from Monday making that Wednesday. Next we (IB and I) went to Immigration. One down two to go. We asked Immigration the same thing!  What! They were appalled. You must leave (MUST) within 24 hours of clearing out!  Ok, then we’ll clear out and we’ll leave this evening to Aruba. “No!” They said. Why not; you said we must leave within 24 hours so we’ll go tonight. “I don’t believe you.”  They said. We couldn’t believe this.  IB said that there must be a school of rude for immigration officers!  We were being detained in the country. Not for any wrong doing; simply, because the immigration officer “didn’t believe we would leave. So they made us stay. It was so frustrating that it was almost funny. Most countries would say “Leave!”  Not Curacao.  So,  frustrated we headed up to the Harbor Masters Office, since we had to stay anther day we would now go back to our original plans and stop in Marti.  Tomorrow we would then return as early as possible to Immigration and get our exit stamps. Damn Immigration!

At the Harbor Masters Office they wanted a copy of our Immigration papers. Now what’s funny is that had we actually been able to check out we may not have been able to get an anchoring permit for where we were going to go!  With the new anchoring permit in hand we set out to meet the girls and tell them what happened, have lunch and then do a couple of errands on the way to Spanse Harbor.

As it turned out; we were most likely one of the few if not only legal cruisers to go into this bay. We needed Immigration forms to get the Harbor Masters Anchoring Permit. Yet if we had checked out with Immigration we most likely couldn’t have gotten an anchoring permit.  What a conundrum.

Santa Marta, Curaco

Santa Marta, Curacao

Marti was a beautiful bay. We anchored in close to 3 meters in calm waters. There was once a thriving timeshare resort (Sunset Waters) there that had closed down 3 months prior. To me it looked like it had

No Tennis; Damn!

No Tennis; Damn!

been closed 3 years. Every window was broken, Slot Machines were laying about in ruins, tile had been removed some from bar tops and floors.  It would take more money to fix it back up than to bulldoze it and start anew. For W/ and I the non existent resort was a disappointment. They had a tennis court!

Sweet Water No More

Sweet Water No More

No net but I’m guessing that a few months prior we might have been able to play on it. The restaurant was rumored to have good food.

I find it odd, here is a good harbor and with the governments support (basically by  not making it so difficult  for cruisers to go and hang out there) they could have a viable economic community around the harbor. Why the government doesn’t support this area is any one’s guess.