Can We Stay Awhile Mexico?
Cabo San Lucas during Spring Break, hmmm, not my ideal for a tropical paradise. Oh well, I have to keep reminding myself of the reason we are here - paperwork. None of our sailing friends recommended this port except for the fact that there is a wonderful expeditor who operates out of here. That is why we are here.
We contacted Victor by email while we were in Turtle Bay. We were told by our well-connected friend Randy, who has made this trek a couple of times, that hiring this expeditor would make the paperwork process a whole lot easier. Boy was he right. Victor and his staff have this process fine tuned. On Tuesday, within an hour of tying up at our slip in Marina Cabo San Lucus, a Customs agent came by to check us over and welcome us to Mexico. Next came the agricultural inspector who collected all the fresh food waste we had onboard. She took our bag of rotting garbage at no charge! She also reviewed with us the rules of what was legal to bring in and what not. Of course I had fresh fruit (remember all that citrus!) and vegetables on board but she was lenient due to our circumstances and let me keep them until Friday. At that time she would come by and get the remains. I had two days to process it all.
Wednesday Fabiola from Victor's office came by and collected our passports and other essential documents. We did not have to go to any government offices to stand in line. We did not have to try to explain ourselves about how we ended up here without any pre-arranged documents. Neither of us know Spanish. We came with only French dictionaries. This service is priceless.
Victor had told us before our arrival that our documents were all in order except for Gypsy's federal registration. Without it we could not get a TIP, Temporary Import Permit, for Gypsy and therefore we could not stay in Mexico. Bob had renewed the registration before we left but they didn't know when the official document would get to him. He determined that we wouldn't need the paper copy in French Polynesia since we already had our visas for there, so we left without it. Here in Mexico a TIP cannot be obtained without this document. Due to the address changes that had occurred before leaving Ventura we weren't exactly sure where this document landed.
Phone calls, emails and scrambling about resulted in success locating the missing document. It would be express couriered here but given the state of global panic due to the coronavirus that didn't mean overnight. Friday would be the day we could have hands on it. In the meantime an emailed pdf would suffice the get the TIP process going.
By Thursday we had all but the TIP paperwork completed. Our passports were returned to us along with permits to stay in Mexico for 180 days, certificates of health, and we even obtained our fishing licenses. Victor's staff made the 2 hour trek to La Paz for us in order to deliver our paperwork to the official TIP-processing bank. Upon their return we found out that the Mexican government has a new system for processing TIPs. They would not give Victor the document. When the TIP is completed they will email it to Bob, within five days, working days. And wouldn't ya know, Monday is an official holiday.
No other port will let us in without our TIP so here we wait in Cabo. We hope that we will get this before Mexico starts closing its ports like so many other countries. We have heard that Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, the Galapagos, the Cook Islands and others are no longer allowing people in. This doesn't fare well for the other sailors traveling off the Americas to the South Pacific. French Polynesia has tightened up their entry requirements too. Who knows what we would have been up against if we made it to our original destination. The silver lining to be found in this sideways sort of journey is that we are well and presently in a place with no reported cases of coronavirus. And, we have the ability to self-isolate given the need. After all, I do have over a month's worth of food still socked away in the belly of Gypsy.
Maybe by end of the week we'll be on the move again. In the meantime, what is Cabo all about besides a safe harbor for a couple of weary, sailors? I'll try scratch out a few lines about this next...