Even six weeks can pass quickly. I’m back in Mexico with mixed feelings. While I felt at home in Germany and only missed Mathias, I quickly felt at home again shortly after arriving in Mexico, enjoyed the dinghy ride through the marina in beautiful sunshine and looked forward to the SAN. Life in two worlds – unfortunately you can’t do that simultaneously.
In Germany, the travel bags I had brought with me had filled up. From new sheets to electronic spare parts to custard powder, there are many things we can get more easily or more cheaply in Germany. New shoes, for example, I have such wide feet 🙂
During my stay in Germany, I also wanted to travel from Hamburg to visit our son in Aachen. To keep it low-stress, I decided to use the train. Of course, the trip coincided with a strike period of the train drivers‘ union. Fortunately, my first train on Saturday was not cancelled. There were hardly any people at the main station and the train was ready when I arrived quite early. The connecting train was also trouble-free. I have never travelled by train in such a relaxed way. On the way back, things changed a bit. The strike was over, the first train was again very punctual and very relaxed. Then I had to change trains in Cologne central station. There I felt like I was in a slapstick railway programme. There were constant announcements that trains were cancelled, delayed or that some stops were not served. My train was also delayed, and only when it was already arriving was it announced that it would depart from a different platform. A mass migration followed, down the stairs, around the corner, up the stairs again, luckily I didn’t have much luggage with me. On the other hand, there are now power sockets and WiFi on the train, so you can’t really just complain.
On the one hand, it was a bit strange to be back in Germany, on the other hand, it felt like I had never been away. In any case, it was nice to see friends again.
Mathias is learning to dive more and more. He checked the sacrificial anode on the propeller and found that it was already quite used up again. That is unusual after only 9 months. To be able to make the exchange under water, he had to fill up our three small bottles in a dive shop. Then he set about the task of replacing the sacrificial anode under water. Without a compressed air cylinder, it was 3 x 3 dives to remove the old anode, followed by a longer dive with a small cylinder to attach the new anode. Considering that Mathias was completely afraid of water two years ago and didn’t like to put his head under water, an enormous achievement! 🙂
Shortly before I left Germany, I was allowed to be present at the shooting of Maika’s new music video. The mobile camera station used by the videographer was impressive. But it is also very heavy, so not suitable for my videos 😉
On the way back to Mexico, I was armed with 2 large travel bags, a small roller suitcase and a handbag. I was able to strap one travel bag onto my back and balance the other on the small suitcase. More or less, I was able to cover short distances this way. When I got off the train, I asked a young man to help me lift it out. He wasn’t exactly enthusiastic, asked how heavy the bag was and immediately ran off on the platform, but at least he helped. At Berlin airport, there were luggage trolleys, but of course you had to deposit coins. I always wonder what kind of impression this practice makes on guests from abroad who have to carry their things just because they don’t have the appropriate coins.
At the airport, Doro and I met up again. She also had two large pieces of luggage and one smaller one. One of her large ones was a cooler that she had wrapped in bubble wrap along with a lightweight hand truck. This contraption was eloquently defended by Doro throughout the trip. When checking in, when checking in at the bulky luggage counter, when changing planes in Mexico and even at customs, she managed to avoid having to open the packaging. Doro is generally tougher than I am, as a small person of just over 50 kg, she had more than her body weight in luggage with her and managed the whole thing without too much ado.
The flights went off without a hitch. We were a bit annoyed about the security check at Berlin airport. The two of us had a lot of backbeermus and accordingly several boxes that were lying one after the other on the conveyor belt to be screened. So we decided that one of us would go through quickly and receive the boxes, while the other would wait until our last box disappeared into the screening tube. The security guard did not agree with this at all. He got upset and asked me what I was thinking, that something could get lost, that’s what he was there for to prevent. Then he turned to the new customer and took his eyes off my things. He told me to take the train if I thought something could get stolen, and so on. I stayed there anyway. In the end, I wasn’t even allowed to go through the metal detector arch because there were still too many people on the other side. For the next time, I have prepared Mathias‘ answer to such bad-tempered security guards: „You don’t trust me, so I don’t trust you either.“
In Mexico City, re-entering the country was no problem, we immediately got our stamp for 180 days in the passport. Then we had to collect our luggage. Now we happily pushed our packed trolleys towards the exit, but we rejoiced too soon, all people with more than one large piece of luggage were picked out by customs. At the exit, at the latest, we were sent back for inspection. Up to $500 of electronic parts and spare parts can be imported duty-free. We had assumed that everything destined for the ships was considered transit goods. The customs officer said that was not the case. He behaved quite decently, but found some things on both of us that we then had to declare, i.e. pay 19% Mexican VAT, which we did. The worst thing was that our carefully packed bags got completely mixed up. Well, all except Doro’s cooling unit 🙂
Our plane to Puerto Vallarta landed 10 minutes early, we got off quickly, the luggage arrived immediately. We loaded up and expected our men to be standing at the exit, full of admiration for our superhuman pack mule activity, and that we would throw everything from us in a high arc and be able to fall around their necks. This idea was probably too cinematic. Our men had lost track of time and were still on the bus to the airport when we arrived. So we were greeted only by a lot of taxi drivers hoping for a fare. But we still had enough Mexican change to sit down in a bar outside the airport and order a lemonade. This was also where our journey had begun on the outward journey. A large-capacity taxi finally brought us all together to the new anchorage or dinghy dock in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle. Doro and I fell asleep immediately after lying down that evening.
No sooner had life on the boat at anchor settled in again, the next hurdles of formalities had to be cleared. For Mathias and Frank, the 180-day stay in Mexico was about to expire. Frank only had a few days left, Mathias 1.5 months. It was reported in sailing circles that an extension of another 180 days was no big deal. So we got on the bus and drove to immigration in Puerto Vallarta. Palaver, a supervisor was fetched, she started explaining the process to us. Then her supervisor joined in and it got uncomfortable. He was very polite but also very arrogant. He spoke good English but emphatically slowly, as if we couldn’t understand him. Several times he pointed out that we had to submit all documents in Spanish or with an officially certified Spanish translation. He asked us what we wanted in Mexico if we didn’t speak Spanish. Well. You should provide a report explaining why the extension is necessary and you should submit bank statements from the last 6 months proving that you have at least about US$ 2200 per month in your account. Alternatively, you can leave Mexico, turn around and re-enter immediately. In that case, you will be granted another 180 days of residence without any proof. Guess which option we chose? Exactly. Frank booked a flight to Guatemala and we decided to finally sort out the entry to the USA. It turned out that at this time of year there were direct flights from Puerto Vallarta to San Diego again. San Diego’s airport abbreviation is „SAN“, what better destination for us? We decided that Mathias and I would fly there together, then we got the ESTA visa for both of us sorted out and I was back in Mexico for two weeks, so I was allowed to enter the USA. We also planned a visit to NXP in San Diego to see if Mathias‘ old computer could be revived and we hoped to get a covid vaccination for Mathias.
No sooner said than done. We took the SAN to the marina in La Cruz, left it in the harbour under the eagle eyes of Carry On and made our way to the airport, Covidtest, various online registrations and flight to San Diego. In the next blog I’ll report about it (how to enter the USA with 8 instead of 10 fingerprints 😉 ).