15 January 2008 | Ensenada, Mexico
The lights of Ensenada can be seen in the far off distance at 8:11 pm. The dull glow of city lights barely reach us as we approach from 10 miles southwest of the Mexican town. The Red Hot Chili Pepper's "Dani California" screams through my Ipod headphones. I am very content with the easy-going, yet upbeat groove. Although we are not there yet, I picture myself having good times with friends in San Diego, wearing jeans, a hoody sweatshirt, and flip flops. I clearly envision myself walking through Pacific Beach and knowing where this or that is. Interestingly enough, spending the past 6 months on a sailboat has increased my imaginative capabilities, so visions such as this are constantly racing in and out of my head. I regularly wonder and dream about the next port, my next watch, the coastline just around the peninsula, and of course, my next meal. Sailors have been known to go slightly crazy after being at sea for too long. Unfortunately I was a bit looney before I even embarked on this trip, so my condition very well may have worsened. But then again, one can never be too imaginative these days.
Similar to traveling on land, we are required to "check out" of Mexico before we make our final sail back to the U.S. Although simple on paper, checking out consists of stopping at the Port Captain's office with our boat papers, passports, etc. The Port Captain will give us an exit stamp, and hopefully wish us a safe journey back to the greatest country of them all. Unfortunately a large amount of red tape is common, although we normally do quite well due to the fact that Julie speaks good Spanish and always impresses the men. I've gone into the offices a few times before and normally just stand quietly and patiently. I find smiling a lot helps too, but over-doing it can be a problem. The trick is to look and act as if you truly are happy to see them and arrive in their port, even if you're not. It is basic Drama 101 stuff. We've had very few problems to date, so I don't anticipate any surprises. However, this wouldn't be the first time I was wrong.
The navigation instruments read we will arrive in the main harbor at 10:11 pm, just a few hours from now. We'll drop the anchor and head into the official's offices first thing tomorrow morning. We'll stay no more than a few days in Ensenada and then make the 60 mile run up to San Diego. Being so close to the U.S. is somewhat surreal at this point, and a bit difficult to grasp. The U.S. Coast Guard and various American vessels can be heard on our VHF radio, which is just plain weird. I've gotten used to hearing nothing but Mexican or foreign vessels for the past 6 months, and now the radio is flooded with gringo boaters like us. I feel a bit like a foreigner entering the U.S., even though it is my home, and beloved country. Reverse culture shock is a doozie isn't it? I'm sure I'll feel much better after I sink my teeth into that "Double Double" cheeseburger. I figure that outta whip me back into my American roots. And if that doesn't do it, I'll get a chocolate shake "to go" .just might supersize it to be on the safe side.