Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Sailing North, up the Pacific Coast

After spend about 30 seconds in Anchorage at the end of January, I decided to head back to the tropics. I cashed in my miles account and flew back to Mexico. It was great to be back in the warm and sunny. I visited with my friends, Molly, Eric, and Sully in Puerto Escondido, a hip surf town. Its always fun to see AK friends in other parts of the world. From there, I scooted over to Zipolite a small beach town with yoga. I met some amazing people and did some great yoga. Also got killer massages from Molly. Her place is the top floor of a building right on the beach. One wall, no roof. I actually saw a whale once during one of my massages. Got rained on a lil' bit too, but its all good.

From there, I flew back to Costa Rica to get back on the Crystal Blue Persuasion, the 55' catamaran I'd been sailing on. It was good to be back, though a little deja vu-ish. After a few days of hanging out with Gary, the captain, and prepration, we are ready for our 700 mile sail north to Mexico. Just need the exit papers.

Things happen differently down there. Red tape is an understatement. We were jumping through hoops left and right to get all our paperwork done. First, the Port Captain. No, no no. You need 3 copies of this, three copies of that, you don't need this, you will need that. No you can't make copies here, go across town to the Grocery store. Then you need to go to the bank and pay your exit fee. Immigration, then Customs. Customs is in another town, 45 minutes away. We go to the bank, but its closed because their computers are down. Gary hops of the bus to Liberia, for Customs. He gets back just in time for Immigration. But the office is closed. No info is posted as to when they will re-open. We go back to the bank. Oh lucky day, its open!

We (we as in Gary) row our water-logged skiff back through the surf with the one oar he has left and we go back to the boat for the night. We try again the next day.

Immigration is still closed. I think, hey! Lets go to Immigration in Liberia, otherwise we are stuck here another day. We have to hurry, though, as the Port Captain is closing early today. We just missed the bus. Lets take a cab and catch the bus. There's the bus, catch it! No can do, cabbie wants the whole fare and drive slow. We take a cab the whole way. 15 bucks. We wait in line. Wrong line. We finally talk to someone. No no, can't do that here. Paula will be open today in Coco Beach. Go there. She'll be there at 2 pm. We cab back deflated. Another 10 bucks and 2 hours wasted.

2 pm. No Paula. 2:30, no Paula. 3 pm, finally Paula. Then another boat captain corks us. Slippery bastard. Finally, its our turn. Its 3:45 and the Port Captain closes at 4. And we still have to walk across town to get there. We need this, we need that. No, no. This is no good. Make new copies. No, you can't make copies here, I'm out of paper. (She was literally saying this as she was grabbing a scene of paper!) Go to the grocery store and make new copies. OK, this is fine. Do you have your papers from last year? Do you have your 5th grade report card? No! We don't need those. Yes, you do. No, we don't. OK! OK, fine, these will do. Hey, Gary. Gary? Hey Gary. I'm very thirsty. Very thirsty. Can you go buy me some water? No, not that kind, this kind. No, not that store, go to this store. I'm so thirsty.

Finally, finally, finally, she signs our papers. But, its after 4. OK, come back if the Port Captain's office is closed. We practically run to the Port Captain's office. Closed. But, she will return in just over an hour. We go back to Paula. Oh, yeah. The Port Captain will re-open. She just had to take her son to little league. I can't do anything for you, you'll have to wait for her. We wait. We are so close to finally leaving. We have been at this since 9 am this morning. Well, since yesterday, really. But who's counting? OK, we are. Shit!! We remember high tide and the skiff.

I head back down the beach while Gary waits for the Port Captain. I see the skiff, the tide is up to it already and I'm about 300 feet away. Just then, swoosh! It goes out to see and gets caught in the surf. Then another wave comes crashing over it! Oh no! Its going to be smashed to pieces!! Then how will we get out to the boat? I start running down the beach, all our groceries flopping along with me. I watch, helpless, in horror, as another wave smashes over our skiff.

Just then, I see some local kids dive in after it and retrieve it. Thank you, thank you. Have you seen the oar? Over there? Great. Thanks again. We lost the baler, but that's no big. The skiff is still in one piece. Barely.

The surf is building as Gary comes down the beach, paperwork in hand. Oh, happy day! Finally! We put the groceries in the skiff and can only push it through the surf as we dive under it. Gary scampers aboard, but I don't have the strength and am afraid I'll roll it. I cut my leg in the attempt. Here, just take my shorts, I'll just swim out to the boat. Lets just get out of here!

Finally, finally, after 2 days of running around for paperwork and buying thirsty clerks water, we can pull anchor and leave Costa Rica for Mexico.

Now, the adventure begins!

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