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