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Monday, August 29, 2011

8/29/2011 - A typical day

We're not really doing much of note these days so I thought I'd fall back on the old standby of describing one of our typical days here in Puerto Escondido.

For me, the day starts about 7:00 when I turn off my fan and crawl out of bed. My pillow and sheet are usually slightly damp from having sweated on them all night long. First thing I do is check the battery monitor to see how we're doing.

Our house bank holds about 400 amp-hours (AH) but it's not a good idea to pull the level down below 50%. So, if we get somewhere around -200 AH, it's time to fire up the Honda. However, I wait until Lulu is up before I start the generator.

After getting the coffee water started, I go out on deck and rig the shade awning and move the cockpit cushions back outside. During this chubasco season, I've taken to securing things from the wind when we go to bed at night, whether it's blowing or not. Much better than having to get up in the middle of the night in a panic.

By the time things on deck are back to normal, the tea kettle is usually just about ready to whistle and I can get my first cup of coffee going. The temperature at this point is usually in the high 80s already and often there's not a breath of wind. The fans below decks are lifesavers.

By 7:30, the decks are back in order and I've got my first cup of joe poured. At this point I usually go out on deck with my cuppa and my Kindle. Sometimes I can catch a small breeze now and again but, this morning for example, there wasn't a breath to be had. No matter. I read my e-book, drink my coffee and enjoy the sunrise.

Just before 8:00 I turn on the VHF radio, remembering to turn the volume on the below-decks unit off so as not to wake Lulu. At 8:00 the Puerto Escondido Cruisers' Net starts up and I sit in the cockpit and listen on the remote VHF. The net consists of emergency traffic, regular check-ins, arrivals and departures, weather, tides, rides and crew, local assistance, announcements, lost and found, swaps and trades, rumors-reviews-etc, peso watch, news from/of friends, and finally, jokes and trivia. This is how we keep track of who's where and what's going on. In the high season, the net can take awhile but this time of year it's often over within 15 minutes. After the net, I continue to read and Lulu continues to snooze.

Sometime between 8:30 and 9:00, Lulu usually gets up, makes the bed, etc. By this time the sun is starting to poke its way into the cabin and I've usually lowered all the shades.

The kettle boils a second time and Lulu has her first cup of coffee and I have my second. She fixes her breakfast which usually consists of juice, granola, and recently, a small bowl of frijoles since the granola just wasn't sticking with her all day. Once she's settled and eating, I make my breakfast. Lately my breakfast of choice is either a burrito or quesadilla consisting of frijoles, chiles, and queso. After breakfast, I usually do the dishes since I'm the one that dirties the most dishes.

Breakfast over and dishes done, we pack up the computer, fill our pockets with toilet paper (just in case) and dinghy ashore to check e-mail and use the "facilities". Once in awhile we also have to fill a water jug while ashore and, today for instance, get some gas in the gas cans for the generator and the outboard.

Our trip ashore can be as short as an hour or as long as several hours. depends on whether or not Lulu does any Skyping or whether or not there is anyone interesting around to visit with for awhile. However long it takes, we do eventually head back out to the moored boat.

At this point, we sometimes take on some sort of project. With the heat this time of year, these projects don't always consist of much but we usually get at least something done. The projects might be as extensive as re-sewing the dodger due to rotted threads or as simple as carting some more jugs of water from he API office to the boat or cooking a pot of beans. The dodger project was a good example of something we needed to do but weren't really looking forward to. The dacron thread that it was originally sewn with was rotting away. A little pressure would cause the threads to just break. At first, Lulu tried to sew it back together with her little Singer but there were just too many areas that were way too thick for a featherweight to handle. Ultimately, we ended up hand-sewing the worst spots.

One of these days, we'll have to re-sew the whole thing but, by then, we may need to rebuild the canvas pieces as well. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Whether the project is a big one, like sewing the dodger or cleaning house, or a small one like writing a blog or cooking some beans or going to the store, we make sure we're finished by early afternoon. After all, we didn't retire to be slaves!

Long about 3:30 or so, we pack up our shower stuff and head back ashore. Since we've moved to the waiting room and can no longer use the marina pool, we walk down the road to the Tripui Hotel/Restaurant/Bar. Probably 25% of the time, someone stops and gives us a ride saving us from the not-that-long but very hot walk. Once at Tripui, we order 2 micheladas (here they consist of lime juice, beer and ice in a salted-rim mug) and grab a couple of chaises down by the pool. After a quick dip to bring our core temperatures down a bit (not that easy in a pool with what must be 88 degree water), I swim a lap or maybe a lap and a half and Lulu swims 20 laps. Then we sit in the shade and drink our micheladas while letting the evaporating breeze cool us down more. We generally have a second round and another dip before heading back to the marina.

A sidenote: Although this is a heavily cash society, there seems to be a dearth of change available. Earlier this week I tried to pay our bar bill (around $180 pesos pre-tip) with a $500 bill since that's all I had. This was a problem since the restaurant at Tripui didn't seem to have enough money to make change. Finally, I offered to just leave the $500 on account and we would just charge our drinks for the next few days against the balance until it was gone. Tomás, our bartender/waiter was relieved at this suggestion.

After returning to Puerto Escondido, we hunt up whichever employee has the shower key duty so he can unlock the showers (regaderas) and let us in. We show him our receipt, he stamps it and unlocks the facilities for us. After our showers, we usually sit around outside of Ray & Jaime's shop for awhile visiting with whoever happens to be there. If Pedro's tienda is open, we'll usually buy some cold cerveza to take back to the boat as well as a couple more to drink while visiting. Eventually, it's time to head home for dinner.

We dinghy back out, hang our wet towels and such on the lifelines to dry, etc. And then it's dinner time. No telling from day to day what we might have but last night's dinner is a pretty good example:

Chicken quesadillas topped with guacamole and frijoles charros on the side. The thing between the quesadilla and the beans at about the 8:00 position on the plate are a couple of slices of chicken breast that slipped out of the quesadilla.

Depending on how late we eat, after the dishes are done, we sometimes have a little bit of time to read in the cockpit before it gets too dark. Long about 8:00 PM, we rearrange the cockpit cushions, set up the outside speakers and the laptop, pop a couple of cold beers and settle in to watch our shows. Currently we're watching season 6 of Weeds and season 4 of Dexter. Before the shows are over we've usually consumed at least one more beer each and shared a 2 liter jug of agua mineral (carbonated water).

After the shows, it's bedtime. Lulu takes care of moving packs, sails, etc from our bunk to the settee and I strike the awnings and stow the cushions below. Finally, teeth brushed, we climb onto (too hot to climb into) bed and turn our fans on HIGH and then read until we drop off to sleep, hoping that we won't have a chubasco wake us in the middle of the night.

Tomorrow we'll do much the same as we did today. May sound mundane but we're enjoying ourselves.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

8/23/2011 - Why do I even bother?

Why do I bother to make plans? Worse yet, why do I bother to announce these plans?

Case in point:

When I last blogged, we were planning on leaving Puerto Escondido on Monday the 22nd. Then, after a week or two messing around the various nearby anchorages, we were going to head up to Guaymas to haul out and paint the bottom of the boat. Remember?

Our paid-up moorage in the inner harbor was up yesterday. Between the last time we paid and now, the prices have increased something like 43%. That's a wee bit too steep considering what the services are. So, we planned to move anyway. While shooting the shit with some of the folks who are more or less permanently moored here at PE, we were offered a mooring in the "waiting room" just outside the entrance to the harbor. The waiting room is a small bay in which you can either anchor or, if one is available, grab a mooring. The problem with anchoring is that the bay is some 60 feet deep in the middle and most of the good anchoring spots around the edge have been taken up with moorings. The beauty of staying in the waiting room is that it only costs about $1.00 (US) per day.

But, so what? We're headed out of here right? Well, not so fast....

Reason #1 to stay put: Since my previous posting, we found out that Lulu's Mom is seriously considering moving to Iowa to be near to two of her sons. If she does make the move, she is probably going to want someone to help her with the trip. Lulu's youngest brother is apparently going to take care of moving her stuff and Lulu has volunteered to accompany her Mom on the cross-country flight if everything works out. Trouble is, we're not sure when, or even IF this is all going to happen. But if it does, we need to be within easy access to an airport.

Reason #2 to stay put: September is reputed to be the month when we are most likely to get a hurricane in the Sea. Puerto Escondido is a pretty darn good hurricane hole.

Reason #3 to stay put: Moorings in the waiting room do not become available very often. If we were to leave for a week or so to go play on Isla Carmen, there's a really good chance that the mooring offered would no longer be available when we return. Especially as more folks in the inner harbor are faced with the new price structure.

Reason #4 to stay put: According to our new friends Steve & Charlotte on s/v Willful Simplicity, the uninhabited islands are just lousy with bees this time of year. This was borne out this morning when a cruiser reported from Isla Carmen that his boat was inundated with bees and he was stung 17 times while there.

Can you see where this is going?

We went to the API office yesterday and paid about $45 (US) to stay in the waiting room through the end of September. That should get us through hurricane season. If a hurricane does come, everybody in the waiting room will beat feet into the inner harbor for better protection.

Staying out in the waiting room will change our daily routine a little but I don't think we're going to suffer very much. We'll have to pay for our showers now but they are pretty cheap (11 pesos - we were paying 15 pesos in La Paz), and we can't use the little pool to soak in like we have been doing every afternoon. However, up the road apiece is the Tripui Hotel with a bar and restaurant. If we buy a couple beers, we are welcome to use their pool.

And, if we don't want to make the walk, we can always just take the dinghy around the corner and take a dip in the Sea. There're a couple of water spigots available nearby for filling jugs and taking a shower if we don't want to pay the marina.

The weather is as good here as it is anywhere else in the Sea this time of year, it's almost as cheap to moor here as it would be to anchor elsewhere, and there are no bees. And the people here are fun to visit with. Pretty much every afternoon ends up with a bunch of folks sitting around outside Ray and Jaime's office (Marinos Servicios) shooting the breeze and drinking beer.

So, barring some unforeseen development, looks like this is where we'll be at least until the end of September. And you can take that to the bank. I wouldn't, but you can.

BTW, according to the USCG vessel documentation records, there are only 2 US documented boats named Siempre Sabado. And guess what? That's right, they're both right here in the waiting room. Here's the other one:

Saturday, August 20, 2011

8/18/2011 - Micheladas

Micheladas are mixed drinks made with beer. They come in different forms but our favorite (so far) are the ones they make at Augie's Bar and Bait Shop in Loreto. This is how I think they're made. BTW, we ask for them "extra spicy".


-Smear the rim of a 16 oz. glass with lime and then dip the glass in salt to coat the rim.
-Fill the glass with ice.
-Squeeze juice from one or two limones so that there is about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch of lime juice in the bottom.
-Add a dash of worcestershire sauce.
-Add a healthy dash of the hot sauce of your choice. C'mon, don't be a weenie.
-Add salt and pepper.
-Fill the glass 3/4 full with Clamato juice.
-Fill the rest of the way with beer (preferably Pacifico). This will take a little less than half the bottle.
-Serve. Add more beer as the level in the glass allows until it's all gone.


8/18/2011 - Micheladas

Micheladas are mixed drinks made with beer. They come in different forms but our favorite (so far) are the ones they make at Augie's Bar and Bait Shop in Loreto. This is how I think they're made. BTW, we ask for them "extra spicy".


-Smear the rim of a 16 oz. glass with lime and then dip the glass in salt to coat the rim.
-Fill the glass with ice.
-Squeeze juice from one or two limones so that there is about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch of lime juice in the bottom.
-Add a dash of worcestershire sauce or Maggi "beef sauce" .
-Add a healthy dash of the hot sauce of your choice. C'mon, don't be a weenie.
-Add salt and pepper.
-Fill the glass 3/4 full with Clamato juice.
-Fill the rest of the way with beer (preferably Pacifico). This will take a little less than half the bottle.
-Serve. Add more beer as the level in the glass allows until it's all gone.


8/20/2011 - The "plan"

The raw water pump is all installed and seems to be pumping good without leaking. I've changed the engine oil several times and it gets less and less milky every time. We have extra oil on board for a couple more changes as well as enough heavy duty Fram oil filters to match the oil changes. We should finish repairing the dodger (rotted threads) today. We have plenty of stores on board. Tomorrow is our last paid-up day here at Puerto Escondido so it looks like we'll be heading out of here on Monday sometime. First leg will either be around the corner to El Juncalito or across the strait to Bahia Marguer on Isla Carmen for a few days. We'll get reacquainted with our anchor, swimming in the same water we're anchored in, no stores, etc. Then we'll start heading north again. Our goal is to get to Guaymas to haul out and paint the bottom. This isn't super pressing as our bottom paint is still in pretty good shape and Ray from Servicios Marinos scraped all the little barnacles off just the other day. However, the bottom paint at the water line is coming off in spite of our meticulous following of instructions when we applied it (we raised the water line so this was being put on top of gel coat). We need to at least paint that and we also need to hit our exterior woodwork again and that's much easier on the hard where you can work from a ladder rather than leaning over the piece you're Cetol-ing.

Another beautiful and (at the moment anyway) breezy day here at Puerto Escondido. We heard from s/v Willful Simplicity on the net today that San Evaristo got clobbered with winds up to 75 knots on Thursday when we were getting the chubasco here. Caused some damage on several boats including a bent rudder post on Willful Simplicity. They're headed here, presumably to make repairs.

That's it for now. When our plans change, you'll be the second ones to know.

Friday, August 19, 2011

8/18/2011 - Chubasco!

A chubasco is a sudden, high-velocity wind that comes roaring down from the mountain tops in the summer in the Sea of Cortez. Winds are typically 35-50 knots but, fortunately, don't usually last too long. Baja sailors are always a little at ease about chubascos as they are hard to predict but, if they do hit unexpectedly, can rip awnings off as well as blow all the crap we keep on deck off into the drink and cause boats to drag their anchors.

We had our first chubasco this morning.

And we missed it.

Yep, we weren't even on the boat. Weren't even close to it. Yesterday we hitch-hiked in to Loreto. Needed to get a few things, hit the ATM, and, maybe most importantly, partake of the free chocolate clams at Augie's. We decided to splurge and spend the night in air-conditioned splendor at the Hacienda Inn.

This morning, I got up about 7:15 and then went out by the pool to get some wifi to check e-mail, etc. It was overcast and muggy but pretty much windless. I was back in the room by 8:00 and was sitting there looking out the window. I noticed that the palm trees were indicating a fair amount of wind had started blowing. It continued for a half hour or so and then eased off. Lulu said, "Do you think this is a chubasco?" I, in my infinite wisdom, said, "No, I think I read that chubascos are primarily nighttime phenomena. Probably just a little wind from the edge of tropical storm Greg down south of Cabo."

We finished our errands and caught the 10:00 AM bus back to Puerto Escondido. When we got off the bus, it was very still. Not a breath of wind. As we were walking back to the marina, Dale from s/v Moxie stopped and asked us how we made out this morning. I said we were fine and by the way, did you guys get some wind here this morning? Dale, looking very surprised, said, "Yeah, we had some wind. We had a chubasco!" Apparently the anchorage had 35-45 knot winds for about 3/4 of an hour. A couple of boats drug anchor and some unsecured stuff was blown off some boats, but all in all, it sounds like things went pretty smoothly.

We ran into Jay and Judy (Wind Raven) on our way to get the dinghy. They had a bunch of life jackets and a cushion they had salvaged from the drink. The flotsam had all come from a catamaran that's used for day charters. They also said that our shade awning was flapping wildly so they went over and secured it by tying it around the boom. We thanked them and headed out to the boat.

Considering how lax we were in leaving things secure before we left, we escaped pretty much unscathed. Yes, the awning had come loose but it suffered absolutely no damage. Thing is built like a brick storm sail. There were a few items we need to make sure are more secure next time: gas cans got blown over, an empty 5-gallon water jug laying on it's side and close to going over the side, cushions down in the cockpit footwell, etc. The only loss we suffered was our external wifi antenna. It was tied to the shroud and was just blown of. The USB cable was still there, but no antenna. Guess I'll have to take the dinghy ashore to check e-mail until I get a replacement.

So, we missed our first chubasco but we learned some valuable lessons.

OTOH, we slept like babies last night in out 68 degree air-conditioned room.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

8/14/2011 - A trip to town

Yesterday, finding ourselves getting a bit low on cash following our trip stateside, we decided we needed to go in to Loreto. As far as I know, that's the closest ATM. Might be one at the Tripui hotel but I don't know for sure. No matter, there are other things we need to get as well.

As I've said before in this blog, there are a couple of ways to get to Loreto from Puerto Escondido (about 25 km). One way is to catch a ride with a fellow cruiser with a car. There are a number of them here and your chances of hooking up with someone seem to be about 50-50. The next option is to catch the bus out at the highway. This is an iffy proposition as the bus can't be counted on to be on time. Also, if they don't have any empty seats or don't happen to see you frantically waving your arms at them, they'll just zoom on by. It's much easier to just stick your thumb out and catch a ride with a sympathetic driver. The last, and most expensive, option is to call a cab. The round trip can run from 400 to 600 pesos but, for that, the driver will cart you around town and wait while you're in the store(s).

Just before we were ready to go I put out a call for a ride out on the VHF net but got no offers. So, we shouldered our packs and started hoofing it out to the highway to stick out our thumbs.

It's a long, unshaded walk out to the highway. Takes about 25 minutes to walk it if you're not really picking them up and setting them down. And, in this heat, that pace is highly unlikely. And how hot was it? Well, according to what I heard on the net this morning, yesterday's high was around 98 degrees with a heat index of 128 degrees!

Once out at the main road, we waited for a car headed north. And waited. And waited. And then we waited a little longer. Seemed to be plenty of cars headed south but no one headed north. Finally, they began to come. At first just a few, and then a whole bunch, one right after the other. It was like the gate opened and let everyone out. I didn't count, but I'd say that 8-10 vehicles sped past us before a Mexican couple in a late model Chevrolet pickup with a load of plywood stopped to give us a lift. Once we began barreling down the road, the driver, unbidden, took pity on us, rolled up his window, cranked up the A/C and aimed a vent right back at us in the jump seat. Ahhhhhhh.......

We really didn't have all that many things to do after we got some cash so we just kind of piddled the day away. A stop at Thrifty Ice Cream for a mango smoothie and then another stop at Augie's for a Bloody Mary (extra spicy, please). On the way to Augie's we passed a bunch of palm trees bearing yellow fruit clusters.

We're pretty sure these are dates. Small dates, yes, but dates nevertheless. If anyone knows different, please let us know.

As we were walking along the malecon, we noticed a familiar looking sailboat at anchor. Sure enough, it was Wind Raven with Jay and Judy aboard. We had our handheld VHF and tried hailing them on 16 and 22 but got no answer. Later on, as we were enjoying our Bloody Marys, we watched them set sail and head out, probably for Bahia Marquer on Isla Carmen.

After Augie's we went to FereMar to get a filet knife, a small tackle box, some motor oil and a medium size spinning rod. We got everything but the rod as I wasn't sure how long a rod would fit in our overhead rack. For being a fishing store, they sure didn't have much of a selection of rods. Next stop was El Pescador for some groceries (mangoes, avocados, carrots, cabbage, etc.). While I was shopping at Pescador, Lulu went to a farmacia to get a prescription filled. She was a little taken aback when a one month supply of pills cost her over 500 pesos. On our way to the bus station later, we stopped at a Similare farmacia to see what the generic pills would cost. Big difference: a 6-week supply was only 197 pesos. Lesson learned.

What we really wanted in town was to find a couple of geckoes to see if they can control the cockroach population on Siempre Sabado but, the only pet store we knew of was closed. Maybe next time.

In no particular hurry, we walked to the bus station to catch the 3:35 bus back to Puerto Escondido. No particular hurry as we had never known this bus to be less than 1/2 hour late. We arrived at the bus station about 3:25 and guess what? That's right, the bus was there and getting ready to leave. The driver directed us aboard where we grabbed the 2 front seats. Twenty minutes later we were back at the Puerto Escondido turn off, walking back down to the marina. Spent the rest of the evening in our usual manner: a soak in the jacuzi* (pronounced yah-cooz-ee) followed by chips and guacamole for dinner and then a couple shows on the laptop in the cockpit. All in all, another fine day.

*The lap pool is a "canal de nado" and a swimming pool is an "alberca". We asked the caretaker for the translations.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

8/13/2011 - Back in the saddle again

Ok, it's time to quit procrastinating and get back to regular blog entries. Our 4-week vacation is over and I've completely run out of excuses for not writing anything, so, for better or worse, here we go...

Back in Puerto Escondido:

Our trip back down south was pretty uneventful. Prior to leaving my brother Rod's house in Portland, we had carefully loaded anything that might seem even remotely threatening to the TSA into our checked bags. Then, since those bags were likely to be opened outside of our presence, we loaded anything that was likely to attract a petty thief into our carry-on bags. Between us we had 2 large backpacks weighing probably 35-40 lbs each, 2 medium size duffel bags weighing another 30-35 lbs each, and 2 day packs weighing 5-10 lbs each. So, fully loaded down, we were each schlepping 70-85 lbs of stuff. Fortunately we never had to schlep the load too far although sometimes it seemed pretty darn far.

We got through security at PDX with no problems at all. Yeah, I remembered to take my belt all the way off this time. We took off from PDX at 7:10 AM so, needless to say, we had been up since about 4:30. While we were waiting to board our plane, they made an announcement that the flight was going to be very crowded and, if anyone was willing to let them check their carry-on to keep it out of the overhead bins, they'd be sure to have them available to pick up within 20 minutes of landing. Well, we were certainly in no hurry when we reached San Diego, and checking our bags (at no additional charge, obviously) meant that we didn't have to hassle with the backpacks on the plane. So we handed them right over.

We arrived in San Diego about 9:45 and retrieved our bags from Baggage Claim by a little after 10:00. Now loaded down, we trundled out to the bus stop where we caught the bus from the airport to downtown. I had worked backwards from the bus leaving Tijuana for Loreto to figure out what today's schedule was going to be. The best info I could find on the internet said that there were 2 buses a day from Tijuana to Loreto. One left at noon and the other at 9:00 PM. There was absolutely no way we could make the noon one and we didn't really want to try to idle our time away (loaded down with luggage) until 9 PM. So, we opted to spend the night in Chula Vista and catch the noon bus the next day.

We boarded the Blue Line trolley headed south and got off in Chula Vista. We now had to tote our bags over the interstate, across a parking lot, and around the back to the office of the Sleep Inn where we stayed on our trip north. This doesn't sound very far, but loaded down with bags, it was plenty damn far. We dropped our bags and asked for a room for the night. The desk clerk asked if we had a reservation. No. "Well," she said with way too much delight in her voice, "I'm afraid we have nothing. We're all booked up for tonight." ACK! I hadn't even considered this. Fortunately there were two more motels nearby. We shouldered our packs, hefted our bags and headed back out the door, across the parking lot, over the interstate, across the trolley tracks, across a four-lane road, through a gas station, whoops - dead end, back out to the street, up the driveway next to MacDonald's and finally to the office of Motel 6. PLEEEEEEEZE have a room.

Turned out to be no problem. We got a room for the night and saved $20 over what the Sleep Inn wanted.

Now relieved of our bundles, we had all afternoon to kill. We decided that the smartest thing to do, after getting some food, would be to make a dry run across the border. We wanted to see what's what and be well prepared so that tomorrow, when we were once again loaded down, we'd have no surprises.

We had purchased all-day passes on the trolley so it cost nothing extra to take Blue Line on down to the border at San Ysidro. Right by the end of the trolley line is a little Greyhound office. We bought 2 round trip tickets to the Tijuana Main Bus Terminal. Not particularly cheap ($10.50 each, one-way) but it'd be worth it if we avoided hassles tomorrow.

We got on the bus and headed for the border. The first stop was right at the border (La Linea). A couple people got off and a few bags were pulled out of the cargo compartment. There was an armed customs agent there writing stuff down on a clipboard. She made one of the ladies who got off push the button that determined if her bags would be searched (red light) or not (green light). She got a green. Next thing we knew, we were on our way again. Never got off the bus, never had to show our passports or visas, never had to say whether we had anything to declare or not, nothing. Hmmmm. Maybe all that will happen later.

We drove on out to the airport and finally got to the bus station downtown. While there we purchased our tickets to Loreto (about $120 each) and chose our bus seats for tomorrow's trip. After a short wait, we got on a bus back to San Ysidro. This part of the trip was just like when we got here a few weeks ago. Ride the bus to the border, wait on the air-conditioned bus for our turn at US Customs while watching hundreds of cars as well as thousands of people on foot waiting to get across the border. We sat on the bus about 20-30 minutes before it was our turn. Then off the bus, get in line at Customs, walk through, show them your passport and out the other side we went. Back in the USA again. We boarded the Blue Line trolley, which runs every 15 minutes, and rode back to Chula Vista. This was way too easy. Where was all the border-crossing bureaucracy and associated angst we were led to expect? Something just didn't seem right. Maybe we'd find out tomorrow.

After a good night's sleep, we got up, packed our bags and repeated the border-crossing exercise. And guess what? It went exactly the same way. No officialdom made any attempt to harsh our buzz. We could have been bringing in AK-47s for all anyone knew. Of course, the other side of the coin is that we don't have a stamp in our passports showing that we've legally entered Mexico. However, we still have the stamps from Ensenada and, since there's no official record that we ever left, I guess we're fine. I don't really understand how this is all supposed to work. If we had needed to get our passports stamped, I'm not sure where along the line we would have had it done.

While we were waiting to board our bus south, a representative from ABC bus lines came over and gathered up our backpacks and duffles, tagged them and took them out to load onto the bus. While sitting there I noticed that everyone heading out to the buses had to go through a gate where their carry-ons were searched and the passengers had to go through a metal detector. Uh oh. Not expecting this, I had put my new Swiss army knife, in it's neat little sheath, on my belt. The signs above the metal detector showed No Guns, No Knives, No Drugs. I really did not want to lose another Swiss army knife so I eased it off my belt and buried it at the bottom of my carry-on, hoping that they wouldn't search too thoroughly. Unbeknownst to me at the time, Lulu had her little bitty Swiss army knife in her pocket.

Finally, noon rolled around and it was our turn to go through the gate. About now, Lulu noticed the signs and the metal detector. If I'd known she had the knife on her, I'd have tipped her off, but I thought it was still in her duffel bag. Too late now. I noticed that no one got stopped after going through the metal detector and yet no one ever emptied their pockets. So I hoped for the best. Lulu's bag went through, was cursorily searched and passed on. I walked through the detector and, although it bonged, no one paid any notice. Same for Lulu. She retrieved her bag and headed out. My bag was the last one searched. I held my breath, now more worried about getting into trouble than about losing my knife. The inspector unzipped the top of the pack, pushed the sweatshirt aside a little, closed it up and sent me on my way. WHEW!

We boarded our bus and again marveled at how much leg room each seat gets. I couldn't even reach the foot rest under the seat in front of me without slouching down to the point of being almost completely laying down in my seat.

The ride was uneventful. This time we were dressed right. We both wore long pants and had sweatshirts ready to do battle with the air conditioning. We only had to stop at 2 military checkpoints and never had to get off the bus or have our bags searched. Must not be as concerned about things coming south, into Mexico as they are about things going north, out of Mexico. We had delicious machaca burritos at one stop but, other than that, the trip was pretty unmemorable. Oh, our butts still hurt but we were more mentally prepared for it this time.

We arrived in Loreto at 9:00 AM local time. The trip had taken 21 hours. We schlepped our bags across the street and had breakfast at the hotel we had stayed at on our way north a few weeks earlier. Then we caught a taxi back to Puerto Escondido. Once there, the marina provided us a ride out to Siempre Sabado, where we found everything just as we had left it except that the batteries were fully charged, thanks to the solar panels.

So, here we are. Back home safe and sound, and (this is new) listening to NPR on our new Sirius satellite radio. Life is good.

Monday, August 8, 2011

8/8/2011 - Won't be long now

After 3 weeks in the States, we're finally headed back to Mexico tomorrow. We've had a great time visiting with friends and family and buying a metric buttload of stuff but now it's time to head back south and start thawing out and slowing down again. OK, it's not really that cold but 58 degree mornings feel pretty chilly to us, even if the temps do climb all the way to the mid-70s most afternoons.

We head out of Portland bright and early tomorrow morning. If we land in San Diego on time, we should be able to get to the Tijuana bus station and catch the noon bus to Loreto. That's if we don't get hung up at Customs and if we manage to catch the right ride to the bus station and if there actually is a noon bus. We'll see. But, either way, we're on our way home. Fish tacos, here we come!