Our Fight With Customs

The compressor in our refrigerator went up a few weeks ago, and it’s been a hard go ever since, trying to get a replacement. We’d heard from several sources that having things sent into Mexico can be a nightmare. Still, we need the parts, and so the process began. We started with the “West Marine” in Cancun, Servimar. The man there said that he thought it was possible to get it through his rep. Delivery would be ten business days, and he’d get back to us to confirm…we’re still waiting.

With little faith in that avenue, we were told to order through Defender, (a company that we used extensively throughout our refit, and offer fantastic customer service), mark it for a “yacht in transit” and have the parts shipped directly to the Fed Ex office in Cancun. The package arrived in Merida, Mexico (three hours from Cancun) three days later! Unfortunately, it’s been there for the last two weeks.

We received an email from both Defender and Fed Ex that the shipment was being held in customs, and awaiting further information. Several phone numbers were provided, but no information needed for shipment. We went to an internet cafe in town to make the call. Thankfully, the owner phoned on our behalf. After some arguing, he was told that there would be an email sent, with the required information. Scott returned in the afternoon, and Adrian phoned again. After more arguing, and some hang-ups on the customs end, it was determined that they would only proceed through email. O-KAAY.

After several emails, Scott was told that he needed an agent to proceed, but there was no information provided. Scott replied, asking for some help, and was provided with a list of agents. He emailed all of them. Only one replied, asking for details and information that Scott had already included in his original email to all of the agents.

Things went quiet on Thursday and Friday, as everything here shut down for the Easter holiday. On Monday, Scott sent an email asking for an update. He got a reply that without a commercial invoice, they could not proceed, and that they could not help him.  ???????  We ordered the parts from a commercial company, and are willing to do or provide whatever they need to get these things shipped! Scott then asked what he needed to do to proceed, what more information did they want? We’ve had no reply.

We have now contacted Defender. Scott explained that unless they have a way to help us, we’ll need to have the items returned for a refund. We’ll start again fresh in Honduras, with an agent. Defender has contacted Fed Ex and Mexican Fed Ex, but we are still waiting for a response. The winds don’t look good for us to head for Honduras for another week to ten days, so we are willing to give it that long.

In the meantime, we are fortunate that our refrigerator and freezer also have a 120 volt powered holding plate system as well. However, that means we have to run the generator every day for a few hours, as opposed to every two to three days. Generators like to run with a full “load” of things drawing power, so we’ve been making water like crazy, and using the ice machine as well. We end up with extra power, as the solar panels put out a ton during the day, so I am also washing clothes, towels and sheets like mad. Silver lining??

Scott can’t stand this process, so we’ve shifted things a bit. We defrosted the freezer, and that will act as our refrigerator until we get this settled. Howard was very intrigued with the process.

I purchased an Engel eight years ago, for our winter cruise to Florida, and it has been acting as our beverage fridge. For those who don’t know, the Engel can act as a cooler, fridge or freezer. It has a compressor, and works on either 12 volts or 120. Things stay incredibly crazy cold, and it freezes things into a hard block; it’s worth it’s weight in gold.

It’s now loaded with almost all of the contents from our freezer.

The contents of our refrigerator went into a cooler out in the cockpit, until we got the freezer defrosted and dried out a bit. I have one less shelf in there, so things are a bit piled up, but it’s doing the job.

So that’s our customs saga. We continue to wait, but aren’t holding our breath.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

 

Mexican Train!!

Since Scott and I arrived here, there has been much talk about Mexican train dominoes. I’m not too familiar with dominoes, Mexican or otherwise, but it intrigued us. It is said that you’re not an “official cruiser” until you’ve learned how to play.  A group gathers to play every Sunday, but I felt that it wasn’t the best way for us to learn.

For those of you who know Scott, it won’t surprise you to know that he’s very competitive when it comes to games. I like to “dilute” the effects of his competitiveness by playing games with others (I won’t play a game with him one on one). However, as we don’t know the Sunday domino group well, I feared that us playing with them would make the atmosphere “prickly” at best, so we had yet to jump “aboard” the game.

That is, until last night. Our friends Ed and Elizabeth, on Skylark, offered to teach us the game and we accepted. Elizabeth is also a “strong” competitor, so there was someone to balance Scott’s “passion” for winning. We offered to host the lesson aboard Sea Life, and Eric and Eulalie, on Elizabeth Jean joined us as well (the more the “diluting” the better!).  The group gathered with food, drink and dominoes, and the lesson began.

In a nutshell…An “engine” tile, or  double domino is placed in the center. Everyone draws 12 or so dominoes (depending on number of players), leaving a “bone” pile to draw from when needed. The object is to be the first to play all of your dominoes, or at least as many high-point dominoes as possible, in each round. The lowest total score at the end of all rounds wins the game. Each player works their own “train” of dominoes coming out from the engine, by matching the numbers. There is also a “public” train, that all can work on as well.

There are many other details, but overall the game isn’t difficult. However, there are several strategies that can be made, in hopes of benefiting your outcome in the game. I was chastised twice, for taking Elizabeth’s advice (or as Scott called it, “puppeteering” for her advantage), but overall, Scott was busy taking the game in to be overly “passionate.” He came in second, so I think that sufficed until next time, when all bets will be off!

We took a break at 8pm, to watch the International Space Station go overhead. The sunset behind our cockpit was also something worth seeing.

 

 

It was a fun night, and after learning the game, we consider ourselves official!

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

 

Evenings In Isla

It was Friday, and that means only one things here in the anchorage…Pizza Night!! The Aluminum Princess is challenged when trying to get to Oscars Marina, where we meet for happy hour and pizza. The pilot house is not made for squeezing between the closely tied boats, and under the spider web of lines. So we left the Princess at home, hitched a ride with our friends on Angel Eyes and headed to the lagoon.

The weather was great for enjoying drinks and conversation on the pier.

While we waited for our pizzas, and awesome garlic knots that come with each order, there was time for a quick photo with some of our anchorage neighbors. Kevin and Marina, on Lucky Seven and Rick and Nancy, on Angel Eyes. We’re going to miss them, when we all head off in different directions soon!

Scott and I have been talking about spending an evening downtown. We have heard that it “comes alive” at night, with music and dancing in the square, and restaurants filled with people sitting down for dinner at 9pm.

On Saturday, we went to shore and walked into town. As we came past the car ferry terminal, there were many people waiting to board as well, which is unusual. Further down the road, we passed the two passenger ferry terminals in town. They were bursting at the seams with people in line to board,  with crowds spilling out into the street. It must have taken some of them hours to get on, as there were far, far too many crammed in line to fit onto one ferry.

There was also an incredibly long line of people waiting their turn for a taxi. The crowd wound down the sidewalk, and blended into the mobs waiting for ferries. We wondered…was there a big event in Cancun that we were unaware of?? Or, had the restaurants in Isla Mujeres run out of food??

We crossed the street, and headed for the square, expecting at any second to hear music, and meet up with a crowd of people. As we approached, things were much quieter than expected. A service for Holy Saturday was being held, so the music had stopped. We decided to go for drinks and food, and come back later for music.

Our first stop was El Patio. We’d heard that they have live music every evening, and had enjoyed drinks at their other location, The Joint. There was no room on the upstairs level, so we had drinks at the main bar, and listened to the music that traveled down from above us.

We then walked to the north end of the busy pedestrian street (which wasn’t nearly as busy as we’d expected). At the last cross street, we eyed a cart selling bacon wrapped hot dogs. We’d heard about this popular Mexican evening snack from a cruiser here, and they intrigued us. Some had cheese oozing out of them, and there were fried onions nearby. As yummy as they looked, we decided to hold off for tacos, and save the bacon dogs for another night.

Continuing on, we wandered back down the street, past the many stores filled with colorful goods for sale.

We stopped at a taqueria for some food, and nearby performers provided dinner entertainment for us.

We chose pastor for the meat in some of our tacos. This interesting looking pork is marinated, vertically spit-roasted and then sliced thin for tacos. It was brought to Mexico from Lebanese immigrants, and despite it’s looks is pretty tasty!

With our bellies full of tacos, we went back to the square, ready enjoy some music and dance. The area had cleared out, and there were just a few people milling around the booths that were still selling crafts. It was disappointing, as we’d been told that things really get going here after 10pm.

We decided to seek out our own music and dancing, and followed our ears to La Terraza, where music was spilling down from the second floor. We’d eaten here on our first day in town, and decided to head up the steps for a drink. The band was great, and we were mesmerized by the people dancing. I swear that their hips must have been on a swivel! We enjoyed some mojitos, and watched couples whirl around the dance floor.

Even though we missed the throngs of people in town, it was still fun to walk the streets and find some new places to eat and drink. Here are a few more photos.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

 

 

 

Tour Boat Mayhem

When we arrived in Isla Mujures, I was amazed at the number of tourists. In addition to those staying on the island, it seems that just as many travel over from Cancun on the ferry. I’ve mentioned that we are anchored near what I call the I-95 for tour boats. It’s a day-long, constant parade of all types and sizes.

The catamarans are loaded so full, that they appear to be sinking.

Passengers are swung out on parachute sails, and then drop in the water…oh what fun!

Unfortunately, all of these boats converge on the same areas for snorkeling. We are amused by the daily “mosh pit” of panga boats, that gather in the water behind us.

I’m not kidding, they are on top of each other.  We’ve heard that boats feed the fish, keeping them in the area, but I can’t imagine that these poor snorkelers see anything but each others masks!

On the other side of the mangroves, we can see masts of the catamarans, gathered with their herds of passengers.

They too, eventually make it around to the waters behind us.

Anchored within spitting distance of each other, the snorkelers trail in the water like breadcrumbs.

Our favorite images are ones like this. A refugee boat on steroids.

We are thankful to be on our own boat, with the ability to snorkel in areas that aren’t so inundated with life jackets and fins. However, if there is a snorkel trip in our future, Scott is prepared with a list of questions. Before signing up, he’ll want to know how many boats, how far apart and how many aboard!

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

 

 

 

 

A Taste Of Cuba In Mexico

Both cruisers and locals have raved about a local Cuban themed restaurant here on the island. Scott and I have had it on our “to eat” list for weeks, and finally got the chance to go last night. Our friends Ed and Elizabeth, on Skylark, brought a snack and joined us for happy hour drinks aboard Sea Life, before we all boarded the Aluminum Princess for shore.

Once we landed at Marina Pariso, it was a short and easy walk to El Varadero. The small waterfront restaurant is located in a quiet neighborhood, several blocks off of the main road.

The smell from the kitchen as we walked in was heaven…garlicky goodness!

The open air restaurant was made up of rustic wooden tables and chairs on sand floors, and hammock swings hanging from wooden beams. Photographs and art on the walls added to the Cuban theme.

The restaurant was full of boaters, tourists and locals, and we were told that the wait to eat would be an hour. Everything at El Varadera is made from scratch, and the kitchen was backed up with orders for the crowded tables. Wanting to eat some of what was coming from the great smelling kitchen, we chose to stay and wait it out.

We asked if it was possible to sit and have drinks while we waited, and were shown to a table. We chatted and waited for our food, enjoying fantastic mojitos, and great music from the band.

After enjoying some yummy guacamole and ceviche, We ordered a combination platter for the four of us to share. A huge tray arrived, full of shrimp, squid, fish, shredded beef and pork. Portions of carrots, plantains and rice were included as well, and we happily dug in. We were so busy eating, that I forgot to take a photo until we’d already ravaged the tray!

Everything was delicious, and we stuffed ourselves full. We were waited on by several of the staff, and everyone was polite and friendly.  It was a great evening…Viva Cuba!

*(Elizabeth and I shared my camera. She didn’t bring hers along, and I was too busy eating and drinking to take many, so we shared the load. Thanks to her!)

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

Golf Carts And Fishing And Pets, Oh My!

Scott has been on several spear fishing outings with some of our cruising neighbors. The winds and surf prove a bit challenging, and most of the area has been “fished out,” but he enjoyed the exercise, and time spent with the guys.

Even though it’s often rough, the rocky coastline on the east side of the island is always scenic.

I spent time in town with the girls during the fishing expedition. We lingered at the Rooster Cafe, and enjoyed their free and fast internet! It was a miserably hot and humid day. I even spied an iguana, who normally seek out the sun, lingering in the shade of his hole.

On St. Patrick’s Day, Scott and I rented a golf cart, to explore the island a bit more than we’ve done on our bikes. Before leaving, Scott had some box play with Howard, to wear him out for the day. It seems any box will do.

We set off with our friend, Elizabeth, from Skylark (unfortunately, her husband was under the weather, and stayed behind). While Scott stopped to get beer and ice, for our golf cart cooler (must have a golf cart cooler!), Elizabeth and I walked through the grounds of El Milagro Hotel & Marina. It has endless, colorful tile work and original accents.

And even an iguana hotel! We have learned since being here that iguanas live in holes. I don’t know how occupied this “hotel” was, but didn’t get close enough to find out. Iguanas ick me out.

After enjoying a lunch of fish tacos with Elizabeth, we dropped her off and headed to the south end of the island, where the Black Cat was decked out in green for the day. To get to the bar, we had to walk through the hotel lobby and then down a switch-back trail of ramps. They sure made you work up a thirst..good for business, I guess!

It was temping to stay for the coming music and festivities,  but since we were traveling to Playa del Carmen the next day for the wedding, it seemed smart to take it slow.

After our “hike” to and from the bar, we set off to explore the narrow peninsula that borders the east side of our anchorage. There is a sizeable undeveloped area on it, with grasses, trees, and a few trails. Scott deemed them golf cart worthy, and we went “off road.”

We had to return the car by 5pm, so it was time to head back. There was quite a bit of congestion as we made our way through downtown. It seems that all of the companies require a 5pm return.

It was definitely the most quiet St. Patrick’s Day that I’ve celebrated in years, but we had a great day.  It was also nice to enjoy the day without having to push ourselves along, like we had to do in Staniel Cay! Here are some more photos.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

 

 

 

 

 

An Long And Stressful Night

After the squall passed through, the winds went calm for a few hours. They picked up significantly at sunset, as predicted, and Scott decided to spend the night on anchor watch in the pilot house. We were confident in the Hulk, but wanted to keep an eye out for others who may come our way overnight.

I checked on Scott a little after midnight, and all was well. Just before 4am, the movement of the boat in stronger winds woke me up, and I went to check on Scott. He’d dozed off, so I woke him to ask how things were going. He said that our anchor was fine, and things seemed to be good. I saw something out of the corner of my eye, on our starboard side. It was the white hull of a catamaran, just off of our paravanes…not good! Scott looked to the port side, and there was a catamaran there as well! What are the chances that two boats began to drag at the same time, and came down either side of us?!? Thankfully, both had missed hitting us.

The catamaran off of our port side immediately started their engines, and began to move off….whew. The one off of our starboard, however, was not as quick to respond. Their anchor had caught, and they seemed content to try and stay there until it was light, which did not make Scott happy. We went out onto the cockpit, and saw them putting fenders out alongside their boat. I guess they were preparing for possible impact. Scott shouted for them to start their motors, and re anchor. We got a response in frenzied French…great.

Our paravanes were still out, and the French couple kept gesturing at them, and then talking to each other. We hoped that the threat of contact with the paravanes would urge them to start up and move away. Suddenly, their anchor let loose, and they were adrift again, heading quickly for our neighbor behind us.

We hailed Barry, on Sea Swift, to let him know about the possible threat. The catamaran didn’t have an anchor light on, so it was nearly impossible to see them coming (an even bigger pet peeve for Scott). Scott hesitated for a second, in case we’d wake him, but Barry instantly responded to our vhf call, and I realized that no one in the anchorage was sleeping at this point. Finally, the catamaran started their motors and moved to re-anchor. Both boats ended up ahead of us, but stayed put for the rest of the night.

I was now continually scanning our area of the anchorage through binoculars, for any boats that had come loose. Not long after the catamarans cleared out, I spotted a sailboat coming through the anchorage beam-to (sideways) at a fast clip. It’s scary to see a boat coming through at a fast pace, with those aboard scrambling like mad to raise anchor and regain control before hitting someone or running aground. The boat was headed for another one of our neighbors, and Scott hailed Lucky Seven to warn them. Again, we received an immediate response; everyone was definitely awake and on high alert. The people aboard the moving boat regained control, and headed off to another part of the anchorage.

By now, it was nearly dawn, and we were thankful that the coming daylight would make it easier for us to see anyone drifting our way. Just as the skies were becoming light, our “friend” from the squall appeared, dragging beam-to through the anchorage. They’d been anchored up ahead of us, and held all night in the strong winds, but had now let loose and were heading for our friends on Skylark.

They missed hitting Skylark, thankfully, but snagged their anchor. Reacting in a flash, Ed tied a buoy to his anchor line,  so that he could locate it later, and then cut it loose. The dragging boat, which now had Ed’s anchor and the cut line tangled with it, moved past Skylark without further incident. Having to go back for an anchor later is much better than colliding with a boat, or being drug along with it; incredibly fast thinking on Ed’s part!

Unfortunately, our next neighbor was not so lucky. The boat was still moving along, beam-to (again, sideways) and was headed right for Calcutta. Igor is alone on the boat, and had gone down to try and sleep, after having been up all night. He was awakened by a jolt from the impact of the dragging boat. The couple on board had been asleep as well. They were now awake, but doing nothing to help the situation. Calcutta is much smaller, and the two boats were now tangled together. Igor went below, and appeared again with a sizeable board, that he used to try and dislodge himself from the lumbering boat that was now caught on his bow pulpit. I was in too much shock as to what was happening to poor Igor to take any photos, so I’m borrowing one that Skylark took. It’s a bit blurry, as she snapped it in haste during the may lay, but you get the idea.

Ed, from Skylark, got into his dinghy and went to help. He ended up pulling the man from the dragging boat out of the water, who had jumped in for God knows what reason, and could not get back on his boat. Still caught, Calcutta was now dragged along with the larger boat into a third boat on a nearby mooring. The two slid along the third boat, and with the help of Ed, and Kevin, from Lucky Seven, Calcutta finally managed to free itself. The dragging boat had finally started their motors, and again raised their anchor to relocate.

The winds were still whipping, and now poor Igor had a mess to deal with. He’d cut his second anchor line, in an attempt to get free of the dragging boat, but his primary anchor ended up tangled around the line of the moored boat. By now, our neighbor Rick, from Angel Eyes, had come to help as well. He got on board with Igor, and Kevin stayed in his dinghy, and they finally managed to get the anchor free, up, and back down again in a new spot.

It upset Scott that he was not able to go and help Igor. We’d loaded the Aluminum Princess onto the flybridge for the coming weather, in case we had to move quickly or pull the anchor. The motor for our inflatable dinghy is not nearly powerful enough to maneuver in the strong winds. However, since our pilot house sits higher above the water, and we look through glass rather than canvass, we hoped that it helped to be able to warn others.

As all of this was going on, another boat was dealing with a medical emergency. There was confusion on the radio as to how serious it was, but eventually it was understood that the man was having a heart attack. The dinghies nearby were helping Igor on Calcutta, and were unaware of the situation. Another cruiser, at a marina in the lagoon, lowered his dingy and sped toward the anchorage. In the meantime, Elizabeth on Skylark alerted one of the dinghies with Calcutta, and Kevin sped over to assist. After a trip to the local clinic, and then a transport by ferry and ambulance to the hospital in Cancun, it was determined that Harold had experienced angina. He was back aboard his boat and doing well later that afternoon.

It was by far our most stressful evening yet. We finally have confidence in our anchor, and Scott’s placement of it and of our chain, but in a crowded anchorage, we are always worried of others dragging. It is maddening to strain through binoculars into the blackness, constantly scanning for each anchor light, making sure that everyone is still in place.

By the next evening, the winds had subsided a bit, and everyone’s anchor had stayed put for the day, so Scott abandoned the pilot house for our bed. We brought the iPad with us. Scott uses it to plot our anchor and it’s swing. It has become his “wooby” at night. We checked it several times throughout the night, and I did a few quick scans in the pilot house, but all was quiet. We, and the rest of the fleet, enjoyed a good night’s sleep. I think we’ve all earned some flat-calm!

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

An Eventful Squall

It seems as if we are constantly contending with wind and weather fronts. The most recent predicted winds to shift from southeast to north, with a chance of squalls (thunderstorms, why does everything nautical have to have it’s own language?), and blow at in the low 30 knot range for a day or so. This was far from the worst we’ve seen, but it definitely proved to be dramatic.

We saw the skies change, felt the winds picks up, and prepared for the squall that was most likely coming our way. It didn’t take long for the thunder and lightening to kick in, and then the winds hit with a bang. An abrupt, 180 degree shift sent 40 knot winds whipping through the anchorage.

There have been several new arrivals here over the last week, as people start to make their way toward various spring and summer destinations. Some are waiting for weather to head for Cuba and Florida. Others, like us, plan to make their way south, toward Honduras, Guatemala and Panama. These boats haven’t been through a big blow here, and are unaware that the bottom here in on the softer side. Strong, sudden shifts in the wind can jar an anchor loose without warning.

So back to the squall. As soon as the winds shifted, some of our new neighbors started to drag anchor. Unfortunately, one of them headed right for our bow. Scott immediately turned our motor on and put us in reverse, moving back as far as he could without having to re-anchor. The boat continued to come at us. It had no name on the transom, so we were unable to hail them on the vhf. This is a huge pet peeve for Scott, as it makes situations like this more difficult and dangerous. He went out on the bow and shouted at them to start their motor, and avoid a collision. The couple on board just stared at him blankly. Scott’s reaction…@!#%!!

The squall passed, and the boat finally started their motor, but only to stop just ahead of us. Their anchor wasn’t set, and they drifted back toward us again, again just missing our bow. Scott assumed they may have been thinking the squall was all that was expected, and that things would settle. He went back out onto the bow, and shouted to them that the front was still coming, and that strong winds would blow for another 24-30 hours. The man looked at Scott and said, “Well that ain’t good!”

After almost drifting into us again, and with some “persuasion” by Scott, they finally started to raise anchor, still drifting just off of our bow. After what seemed like hours, they slowly started to moved away, but veered in the direction of where our chain laid below. The boat’s anchor was still down in the water as they moved along. Scott was terrified that it would snag our chain as they passed over it, drag it with them and dislodge the Hulk. Thankfully, they missed our chain, and moved off toward the other side of the anchorage. Crisis averted.

In the meantime, our friends on Skylark dealt with their dragging anchor immediately, starting the motor and keeping the boat into the wind as they found better holding. Ed then put a second anchor out for additional strength. It’s a shame that the boat we dealt with wasn’t as quick to act.

Here’s a video of our encounter with them. We cut the 20 minute footage down to about three, so you can get the idea. You can see them come toward us, by the grace of God pass of of our bow, completely turn around and come back at us before finally moving away.

 

Once again, I’m singing praises for the Hulk! It held fast through the squall without a blip. I think this is getting to be old hat for the beast!

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

A Wedding!

Our friends Jeff and Carrie planned their wedding in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Scott and I originally declined the invitation, planning to be in Belize by now. After we decided to linger in Mexico, there was discussion of taking the boat down to Playa del Carmen, but  we discovered that there are no marinas in the area, or anchorages with good protection.

As the wedding date got closer, we decided to just leave the boat, and make the journey from Isla Mujeres. There wasn’t a weather front predicted to come through, and after being here for almost two months we were comfortable (well, as comfortable as Scott can be) leaving the boat. Our cruiser friends here in the anchorage promised to keep an eye on things for us, so a plan was hatched!

I had hoped to surprise the couple, but logistics proved challenging without letting one of them know. Carrie, the bride, is now a dear friend, but I have known Jeff for 22 years and wanted to keep him in the dark if I could. She was happily on board for the plan! Our budget didn’t allow for us to stay at the resort, as they had a three night minimum stay required. Carrie graciously arranged for us to have “day passes,” so we could come and enjoy the resort  and attend the wedding.

Scott and I took our dingy to shore, and hailed a taxi to the ferry terminal. I was trying to avoid as much sweat as possible, and thought that a quick taxi ride instead of a hot walk would help. The taxi that stopped for us had someone in the passenger seat, and also in the back. We assumed that he was dropping off the woman in the back seat, but she just slide over.

Usually, when you are carrying bags or packages, the driver will get out and put them in his trunk. This would have been very helpful, since we were now going to share the back seat with this woman. However, the driver stayed put, and we slid in with our bags and clothes. I was squished into the un-air conditioned car, in between Scott and the woman. With a plastic garment bag pressed up against me and a bag at my feat…. it was instant sweat. So much for trying to stay dry! Thankfully, the ferry terminal wasn’t far, and the suffering was quick.

We boarded the trusty ferry to Cancun, and cooled off on the 20 minute air conditioned ride (Scott didn’t get his usual choice of sitting upstairs). Originally, we’d planned to take a taxi to the bus station, a bus to Playa del Carmen and then another cab to the resort. I was afraid that the taxi and bus combinations would leave me soaked in sweat, so we decided to spend a few extra dollars and take a taxi straight to the resort. The taxis in Mexico are not metered, so you have to agree on price ahead of time. After some back and forth with the driver, he and Scott agreed on a cost (and for him to have the air conditioning on), and we were off.

On our way out of Cancun, we made a quick stop at Refaccionaria Mardam, where Scott had dropped his alternator for repair. They weren’t able to fix it, so he took it back and we carried it along with us.

After a 90 minute ride, the driver dropped us at our destination, the RIU Palace. When I inquired at the front desk about our day passes, I was told that they didn’t have a wedding scheduled that day. The man told me that I was at the RIU Palace Mexico. Well wasn’t that obvious?? Of course we were in Mexico! He went on to say that we probably needed to be at the RIU Palace Riviera Maya, which was ten minutes away. Really?? Two Palaces?? Ten minutes apart?? With our driver gone, we had to call for another taxi. The ride was only two minutes, but was almost a third of what the whole trip down had cost us. But, at least we were now in the right place.

We found our friends who’d traveled down from Baltimore, and spent a few minutes hugging and saying hello before I went off to find the bride. Scott went to go through our mail and packages from home, that friends had stuffed into a large suitcase for us..what a great favor! He also went through our tax papers, so our friends could fly them back to my sister and brother-in-law. Once that was done, it was off to the pool area, where we dodged the groom while enjoying some drinks and sunshine.

I was able to keep our attendance a surprise for Jeff, and we revealed ourselves just before the wedding started. The weather was beautiful, and the couple was beaming with happiness.

I also brought along some friends who couldn’t make it…

At 10pm, we made our exit, to begin the journey home. We changed back into our “traveling clothes” before calling for a taxi. I didn’t want us to get our good clothes dirty or wet, climbing in and out of the dingy. A taxi arrived quickly, and we took turns napping on the way to the ferry terminal.

We just missed the 11:30 ferry, and had to wait an hour for the last one of the night. With our bags of mail, clothes in a bag on a hanger and a backpack with an alternator, we looked like a homeless couple as we slept in a pile on a bench, waiting for the 12:30 ferry. We arrived back to Isla Mujeres, taxied to the dock where we’d left the dingy and climbed back aboard Sea Life at 1:30 am. A long day, but well worth it to see our friends and celebrate their big day! Congratulations Carrie and Jeff!

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

A Field Trip To Cancun…And More Repairs

We’d planned a “field trip” to Cancun.  I wanted to do a run to Walmart, and gather things that I haven’t been able to find here. We’d also been given the name of a place who could look at our alternator, so our agenda was set.

Until, that is, Scott noticed our refrigerator temperature was warm. He checked the compressor, and found that it was locked up. After trying a few things to get it to turn over, Scott “condemned” it, and we now need to replace it. Luckily, we have a 110 volt holding plate back up system (that runs when the generator is on), so we’re not completely dead in the water. With a recommendation from a cruiser, we added a marine store to our list of Cancun stops.

We boarded the ferry, and headed off on our 20 minute ride to Cancun. Of course, we have to sit outside, and in the front seat…where you catch wave spray.

Our boat at anchor is visible from the ferry terminal here in Isla.

We arrived in Puerto Juarez, which is just minutes from Cancun. This terminal  is the main hub for people traveling to and from Isla Mujeres. Toursits, locals and workers all use this ferry. The stern end is always loaded down with luggage and supplies for the island. It can be a real zoo in the afternoons.

We hailed a cab, and made our first stop to drop off our alternator for repair. Scott had a letter he’d translated into Spanish, as to what was wrong, which made things go quickly and smoothly. They agreed to check it over and email us.

Our next stop was to the marine store, Servimar, to ask about a compressor. It seems to be the West Marine of the area.

Luckily, a man behind the counter spoke great English. He helped Scott find the parts in a catalog, and told us that he’d call his rep and then email us with a cost. If he can get the part, shipping will take two weeks. He charges a percentage, and tax here is 16%, so it won’t be a cheap fix, as in, there goes a month of cruising!

Our last, and most exciting stop for me, was to Walmart. Happily, we found a McDonald’s inside, and stopped for some much missed fast food! Ordering was a bit challenging. They still had the breakfast menu up, and we had to struggle through with the girl behind the counter for our lunch order. She got the manager involved, who quickly knew what we wanted. As we were paying, he changed the sign to lunch items..

We cased the entire Walmart, skipping the stove and refrigerator aisles. We loaded up our two rolling duffel bags with snacks, canned goods, meats (pork loin), cheese (all we get on Isla are various kinds of manchego) and other special things that we can’t find in Isla Mujeres…like chocolate chips!

We arrived at the ferry terminal loaded down with our duffel bags in tow, a large soft-sided cooler over a shoulder full of cold things and a backpack full of crushable stuff. Everything but the backpack went onto the back of the ferry, with all of the other luggage and supplies for the island (which included cases and cases of alcohol). We traveled home, to unload our loot…a dry ride this time.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”