Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Not Tawawi!

By Sundance:

Okay it's been a while since we updated the blog, so we'd better get on with it or we'll be bogged down with months of stuff to remember and recount. Over the couple of days after we arrived in Ensenada we looked around and talked to various boaty people about the prospects of getting rides. Actually, a lot of this took place in the latter part of the day because we also registered on several online discussion groups and crewfinder lists, and checking email took up much of the morning. We did eventually visit all the marinas in town, including one a few kilometers north/west of town, attached to a hotel. On the Wednesday of that week Daniel's mother Jenny took us out to play tennis. Daniel's younger brother Eric (who I think looks like a very young Antonio Banderas) is learning and takes proper lessons, so Yana and I got to tag along. It was quite good fun - I haven't played in ages, and Yana hadn't ever played before. We also got quite a surprise when Jenny initiated a conversation about religious beliefs, and we found out that she, Daniel, and Eric are atheists. That really knocked out socks off because Latin America is a real stronghold of Catholicism. We don't really want to use this blog as a platform to advocate or trash one particular world-view or another, but Mexican atheists are rare and noteworthy critters indeed. Well, later that night we cooked up some green chicken curry and had a great chat with Daniel over dinner about not being religious.

On Thursday the Canadians (Tom and Kim and family) took us out for a shakedown cruise on their boat, the Tawawi. We can't fit on their boat, but it still seemed like a good idea to get some boating experience. We had quite a good time, felt a little iffy on some of the rolling waves but nothing serious, and got to throw our backs into it helping out with some of the lines and sails and hoisting the spinnaker and all that stuff. When we got back to the marina we were invited over to the Iron Barque, a boat owned by an Aussie couple, for dinner. More atheistic science-nerdy conversations ensued, and much roast chicken was had by all. As we rode home, we actually encountered Daniel who had been out looking for us. We felt a bit sheepish because we hadn't intended to be out so late and he'd gotten worried that something had happened to us.

Friday morning we decided to head back to the Baja Naval marina and talk to Jim and Ann again, about whether they were still saying "maybe" we could come to the Marquesas with them, or they had made a definite decision. They said yes, on the proviso that we ship our bikes back to Australia seperately, as their boat is a little too crowded for bikes as well. Well, that seemed like a fair compromise, although it means modifying our plan of hopping off a boat in Oz, reassembling the bikes, and riding from that very spot back to Adelaide. But still, we've got a boat to sail on!

By Yana:

Saturday, we got stuck into doing some of the things which need doing before we board the Cactus Wren. The morning got consumed by the usual inefficiency that afflicts us, but we spent the early afternoon talking to shipping companies about sending our bikes to Australia, which turned out to be a bit of a wild goose chase in broken Spanish, with little progress for that day. More productive was our quest to end our status as illegal immigrants. Yes, we have spent the better part of two weeks as illegal immigrants in Mexico, which just tickled us. The reason for this is that upon entering the country via the US, nobody even acknowledges your presence. You can just waltz in without a scrap of ID on your person, and nobody tells you what you need to know. We actually had to hunt down the information. The upshot of this was that we headed to the nearest immigration office, got our passports stamped, and paid for a six-month tourist visa. Luckily, us pointing out to the cranky immigration guy that it's not like anyone actually told us what we needed to do, and acting sufficiently benign about it, was enough to convince him not to fine us.

Saturday was also the day of an apparently rather famous bicycle race, wherein thousands of amateur cyclists of varying degrees of seriousness hop on their bikes in Rosarito, and ride the 80km to Ensenada, completely clogging the town's roads. Once we had finished our formalities for the day, we decided to merge in with the steady stream of cyclists, and rode across the finish line with them, which was fun. There were various fun costumes, including a medieval knight on a bike, and a guy with a Darth Vader helmet. We hung around the finish line for a bit, taking in the various stalls and noisy bastardised musical performances ("Achey Breaky Heart" in Spanish - it burns us, precious!), and then decided that we'd had enough for the day.

Sunday morning, Daniel headed off for LA to enjoy a well-earned holiday. We said our goodbyes, as we probably won't see him before we set off on the next leg of our trip. We then headed down to the Cactus Wren, where we did what we could to help out a little. Sundance helped out with getting the GPS wired up to the radio, which was turning out to be a rather convoluted task involving him wriggling into lots of confined spaces and attaching wires to other wires, and I ended up heading back to the apartment to make myself useful in more domestic ways. In the evening, we found out that sending our bikes with a shipping company would incur all sorts of crazy charges for the various customs processes they'd go through. Shell-shocked, we decided to figure out what to do the next day.

On Monday, upon establishing that the customs charges are specific to shipped items, rather than something sent in the mail, we decided to have a chat to the various relevant companies, only to find ourselves hit with quotes of well over $1000 per bike. Apparently, they don't do surface freight, so it's expensive express air freight or nothing. We spent the next several hours in alternating levels of shock, angst, and indecision. The bikes are worth only a fraction of how much it would cost to send them, so the logical thing is to leave them behind and just get new ones, of course. However, we have both grown incredibly attached to our steeds, as they have faithfully stood by us on one heck of an adventure. I'll admit to welling up at one point, imagining leaving my bike behind. We decided there had to be another way, and got stuck into all sorts of research, partially with the help of the awesome people at the Tourist Information Centre. Another inconvenience was the power button on our laptop breaking, so we were without internet access for a day while the thing was getting repaired.

We also went on a journey to various cheap grocery places with Jim and Ann, where we got the bulk of our provisions for the boat trip. It's kind of spooky to find that Costco in Ensenada has the exact same layout as Costco on Maui.

Tuesday, we spent some more time with Jim and Ann, who have started referring to us as "the kids". We also found some other possibilities for shipping the bikes. The tourist info people had found a local company who over the phone quoted us $280-something per bike, which was an insane improvement. Once we had picked up the laptop from the repairs, we headed to their office, to verify this quote. Unfortunately, they hadn't calculated in the volume of our bikes, which jacked up the price to $800 per bike. Still not as bad as the other companies, but we figured we'd still aim for a better price elsewhere. In the evening, after many phonecalls, we established that there are various cheaper options in LA. As the first little leg of the trip on the Cactus Wren will take us up to San Diego, this might turn out to be doable, as Jim and Ann have conceded that for that little while, we should be able to stash the bikes on the boat, although they would be in the way in the long term. It will involve some hoop-jumping, but hey, it'll save several hundred dollars to do it this way.

We've spent most of Wednesday packing, getting all fired up for the boat trip. We still have plenty to do before our departure, but things are slowly coming together. We still have to do some very thorough cleaning of our bikes though to get the mud off them, which would involve disassembling the things and cleaning each part individually. Fun. Still, Australian quarantine regulations are anal retentive for a reason, and I can live with that.

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