I left the channel open and soon got a call from Cheryl of Stolen Kiss. I had not been able to spot their boat in the El Mogote anchorage because they were in the marina. In any event I don't think I would have recognized their boat because not long after our conversation they motored past Pachuca and said hello on their way to a day sail with Peter's sister and brother-in-law who are visiting from Cottesloe Western Australia, and I saw that their boat didn't have the lines that I had expected: it is a large beautiful blue-hulled 46-footer if I recall the length correctly, with and aft cabin. We plan to get together at the end of the week.
Arnold and I took the Zodiac to the marina dinghy dock and I purchased a week of dinghy dock, garbage, and water service for 90 pesos (about $1 USD per day). Showers are extra, 15 pesos each.
After our showers we visited the cruising club house which seemed like a lively and friendly place. They have a great book exchange library and a large range of DVD's that can be signed out. Arnold and I read an interesting article on the board where there are 60,000 to 80,000 retired Americans living in Mexico. The story focused on one California woman who needed old age assisted care and could not afford it in the USA. She moved into an assisted care facility in Mexico for 1/3 the price and is enjoying the great weather and great support services. The Mexican entrepreneurs are getting the market signals and building senior resident facilities for these gringos who cannot afford to live in their own country. Let's look at the business model. One big factor is that American drugs are significantly cheaper in Mexico than they are in the USA where they are produced. The other factor is that medical expertise is much cheaper in Mexico. We've been told that the Mexican border towns are filled with a monumental number of Mexican dentists who service the Americans who flock across the border seeking affordable dental (and medical, no doubt) care. Globalization is a two-way street. Anyway, let's look to Mexico being the Florida retirement Mecca of the future.
At the dinghy dock I got into a conversation with Chris of "Bright Star" who gave me some sobering information on the notorious Golfo de Tehuantpec between Mexico and Guatemala. That is at a narrow point in the Central America land mass and I know from listening to Don Anderson's weather reports any time there are northerly winds in the Caribbean there are gales across the Tahuantepec. My plan had been to sail out several hundred miles out to sea from the coast line in that area, but Chris says that he's had friends beat up as far as 400 miles out to sea from Tehuantepec. His suggested play is to head for a southernmost port in Mexico at the NW end of that gulf, get my Zarpe, and wait for the harbormaster to give the "go" signal for a fast crossing near the shore along the gulf to Guatemala. Once the "go" signal is given, sail post haste 1-2 miles off the coast. If the winds hit then being that close into shore will mean that there will be less fetch and lower seas. The worst thing one can do is to sail right across the middle of that gulf because the seas can become monumental.
We then returned to the boat and prepared for the serious business. Arnold needed to sort out some banking issues and my primary objective was to visit the Capitan de Puerto (Harbormaster) and present the ship's papers announcing our presence. I visited the bank with Arnold where I withdrew $4000 pesos with my ANZ Visa card with no problem but his Bank of America card would not work, as a fellow BOA card user had warned. I left Arnold at the bank waiting to talk to their Customer Service and pushed on the long walk to the Capitan de Puerto. On the way I saw a target of opportunity and got an excellent hair cut complete with ear trim, blow dry and mousse, for the princely sum of 80 pesos ($6.15 USD). I gave the man 100 pesos feeling guilty as I walked out.
I found dealing with the Capitania de Puerton office a very good experience. The office was staffed by bright young people in white uniforms and I was dealt with in an efficient and professional matter. The young man (Sad isn't it when every man under 30 becomes a "young" man. I can remember saying many times during my loner and alienated university days with firm conviction "Don't trust anyone over 30.") did not speak much English and I'm proud to say that my feeble Spanish carried the day. (But he wanted to know where the boat was and for the life of me I could not recall the word for "anchor" - ancla - so I showed him where the boat was on the chart in my cruising guide.) I was told that when leaving La Paz I must notify their office over VHF 16, though when finally clearing Mexico I must get my Zarpe (clearance paper) in person.
I walked the 3 kilometers back to the boat along the beautiful waterfront and on the way ducked into a nice looking restaurant where I had lunch overlooking the waterfront. I immediately ordered a "cerveza Pacifico por favor, no vaso" (Pacifico beer, please, no glass) and once the alcohol had cooled my brain I ordered the crumbed fillet of fish. I love lunch in Mexico. To keep you amused while the dish is being prepared they bring out a large plate of fresh crisp nachos with three different dips. Before I could wolf my way through the nachos lunch arrived with two generous pieces of fish fillet, rice, and a splendid fresh salad of lettuce, tomato, onion, cucumber, and plenty of avocado. The spice rack had 7 bottles of various sauces. There is a lot to be said about the spiritual, philosophical, and ideological side of life, but let's not forget the physicality of life - after all, we are physical beings during our time on earth. And I really, really, REALLY enjoyed the sensuality of the good booze, good food, and good views during that lunch. The entire sensual experience including beer came to 95 pesos, or less than $7 USD.
I walked back to the marina needing a siesta more than the fresh air and arrived an hour early for the rendezvous with Arnold. I walked from one end of the facilities to the other and found no Arnold so I sat at a bench for 45 minutes snoozing. I had not checked the cafe and all that time Arnold was inside the cafe having a few beers. Anyway, we finally got together and after Arnold successfully faxed some papers to the bank and an abortive try for the boat against some rough seas we finally made the somewhat turbulent Zodiac trip back to Pachuca just before sunset. (We learned from that experience to take wet weather gear with us when we go ashore.)
As for Arnold's problems with Bank of America I will let him provide the details of the unbelievable story. Whereas my Australian ANZ bank has provided unqualified support to me, including sending a new card to me to Honolulu post haste after I had left mine at an ATM, the BoA seems like a hide bound, backward, conservative organization that thinks more of itself than of its customers who need support in foreign countries. To obtain the "privilege" of withdrawing his own money from a Mexican ATM he had to fax photocopies of both sides of his BoA Visa card, two items of identification (passport and driver's license) and - get this - three signatures on the same piece of paper one under the other. The only thing that they didn't ask him to do was to roll over, pee all over himself, and bark. And after this Arnold must phone them and verbally jump through more hoops before they will give him the privilege of accessing his own money.
By the way, we had to set our watches 1 hour forward, which puts us at GMT-7.
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