still no caps on my keyboard
after two weeks of swimming and snorkeling in the bays of huatulco we decided to start our migration to el Salvador. we had two choices, check out of mexico here and head straight to bahia del sol, el salvador, or stop in puerto chiaps and check out there. the stop would break up the 450 mile passage. checking out requires a lot of office visits, most of them multiple times. first and main stop is the capanitia de puerto, port captain.
here’s the port captains office. in huatulco the setup for checking out is pretty professional and all the players are located within walking distance. puerto chiapas would take a couple of days to check out, due to the distances, multiple cab rides, etc.
1. first stop, port captain. fill out forms to obtain the vital official exit form, the zarpe. sweat in waiting room heat for what seems like forever…
2. next walk around the port to the other side to find the api office. sweat on walk in midday sun. pay a few bucks for anchoring in the bay for three days. sweat on walk back to port captain’s.
3. show port captain the receipt from api. sweat in waiting room. catch some air conditioning from open service window. add a few more pieces of paper and everything receives the first stamp.
4. go to immigration. immigration is the only office where the door is locked and controlled by a friendly armed guard with an automatic rifle. once inside it is obvious why. this office is fully air conditioned. we show off our passports and visas. i need to produce the original receipt for the visa payment when we entered the country six months away. without it, they wanted me to pay again. i whipped out my great filing system in my manbag and low and behold found the receipt. another stamp was obtained and we setup for an appointment for the immigration officer to come out to our boat to do the final inspection before we got our visas taken away.
5. back to the boat. call customs at the airport and fumble through trying to explain in spanglish that we need a customs inspection for checking out of the country. at the end, we think we have a four pm appointment and are to go in to the dock to pick the customs officials up in in the dinghy and bring them out to the boat.
6. take the dinghy into the public dock. sweat at the top of the dock for thirty minutes. feel faint, decide to go buy a 600ml bottle of coke for ten pesos from the taco stand near by. revived by cold fluid and caffeine. walk over to near the port captians office and have a marginally misunderstood conversation in Spanish. the net was, no, he isn’t there. i should go to the immigration office and look. back to immigration. the office is still has the armed guard and the air conditioning is still on. sitting on the couch is the young customs agent. he wants to do as much of this process as possible in the immigration office, as ‘it is too hot outside’. a quick view through the paperwork, a test stamp on an old piece of paper, and then bang, we have our customs stamp on our exit paper, the zarpe. take the customs dude out to our boat for a quick introduction to chris and quick look around the boat; ‘do we have ten thousand dollars onboard, do we have any weapons or drugs, where is the engine room’… then i shuttle him around to the two other boats that are also checking out.
seven. denny on kokomo then brings immigration out. they are really enjoying the dinghy ride. a quick look at our passports again , some paperwork filled out, and bang, we have the final immigration stamps on the zarpe.
immigration officials leaving the boat, denny in the blue shirt driving
and the fruits of all this labor produced a work of art that will surely be greatly appreciated when we had it to the el Salvadorian officials on entry
it looks like we have a good weather window for crossing the dreaded gulf of tehuantepec. should have at least two days of light winds and no tehuantepecker gales. we are leaving here in an hour or so for the four day crossing. next landfall will be crossing the bar at the river mouth entrance to bahia del sol and settling into the anchorage there.