On the Border
March 16, 2017
Arriving in Chiapas is a whole different experience than any other port in Mexico we have stopped at. Because it is on the border with Guatemala, the Mexican Navy boards every boat in and out of the port to inspect it with the drug dog. That was a first for us.
As we approached Chiapas, we called the Port Captain on channel 16 to request permission to enter the port. We had been told we had to do this by another friend and that they would not respond to you if you hailed them in English. Mike did an awesome job calling in Spanish. What was funny about it was at the end of their conversation when the guy realized Mike was trying to reach for the right words in Spanish, the guy just started speaking English. Sheesh.
Anyway, we pulled into the marina and unfortunately had a bit of a rough time. We were assigned to a slip where we had to make a 180 degree turn to get in through a narrow fairway. And, just as we were starting to turn, the wind picked up. Our bow was being blown by the wind and we couldn’t make the turn. To top it all off, the engine died twice while Mike was shifting between forward and reverse. Both Mike & I (and I think everyone on the dock) about had a heart attack. Luckily we didn’t crash into anything and Mike was able to back us out safely, but the stress was a bit much.
We couldn’t get into the assigned slip and the marina staff just yelled at us to pull in anywhere we could. We were able to pull into another, larger slip facing the opposite direction. Whew! I hate docking.
We were very happy to be reunited with our friends Mike & Katie (and their dog Penny) on Kya. They invited us over for drinks that night. They also invited two French couples from a catamaran called Ivadel. We had a fun time with Kya and our new French friends. We found out that Phillipe used to own a bakery in Paris, and he invited Katie and I over the next morning to give us a lesson on how to bake French baguettes. In return, he would get an English lesson!
The next morning Katie and I gathered on Ivadel with our pens and paper, like all good students, to take notes. Phillipe showed us how to mix and knead the dough, how to let it rise, and the trick to getting that crusty outside of the baguette (hint – steam)! It was so much fun! We learned that Phillipe had a bakery in Paris for 24 years and won all kinds of awards for his pastries. He said he used to make over 4000 baguettes a day. Wow!
I wanted to repay the favor for taking hours out of his day to teach us how to make the baguettes. We still had tons of dorado that we had caught two days earlier, so I invited everyone to a sushi party. Kya was nice enough to let us use their boat since we can’t really fit 8 people on Adagio for dinner.
Now, I’ve never made sushi rolls before, just sashimi, so I’m not sure what I was thinking. But, Mike was up for the challenge and helped me make a whole platter of sushi rolls with our fresh dorado, avocado, cucumber, etc. It just took us a bit longer than anticipated. But, it turned out awesome. We had a great time with everyone and the sushi was delicious.
We made the decision to leave Chiapas on Saturday to arrive in El Salvador on Monday. But, that meant that we had to get our zarpe (exit papers) on Friday. I had NO idea that trying to get out of Mexico would be harder than coming into Mexico!
We started out first thing in the morning in the marina office to fill out the required paperwork and make copies of all of the documents. Then, the marina manager would have to drive us to immigration, the banjercito, customs and the port captain. Everyone has to stamp this same document to let you out of the country. And, everyone wants copies of our boat documents, passport, visa, etc.
So, everything seemed to be going according to plan until just when we were about to leave the marina office. One of the staff came in and told the manager that the road was blocked. Apparently there was some dispute between a company at the port and their transportation contractor, so the contractors decided to block the entire road in protest. Nice. The police were there, but they didn’t really want to get involved.
Thankfully, the marina manager had a 4×4 truck and said he knew a way around. He ended up driving us on dirt roads through a mango grove and banana plantation to get around the road block. Only in Mexico…
After five hours, we were finally back at the marina with our zarpe in hand. I have such mixed feelings about it. I’m sad to leave Mexico, but I’m excited about the next part of our adventure. El Salvador…here we come!