Salt Water Again, and a Reminder That We Never Really Know What Lies Ahead
23 December 2015 | Placencia, Belize
Beth / happy/sad/happy/sad
One more beautiful trip down the gorge to Livingston – another visit to Rauls’s office where we picked up our passports, our exit permit and confirmed that we need to stay out 90 days this time. We have been going back and forth between leaving the boat in Bocas del Toras this summer (assuming we get that far) or coming back to the Rio. It is nice to have options!
Toriba headed out across the bar about 2 hours before the 3:55 high tide and called back to confirm that we had enough water to go too, so off we went for an uneventful crossing. As always, we used Freya Rauscher’s waypoints and as always, they worked for us. Because it was too late in the day for us to comfortably make New Haven, we both went across to anchor off Tres Puntas for the night. The evening’s entertainment was a swim followed by curried maple glazed pork tenderloin, potatoes and a fresh salad of tomatoes, peppers, onions and cilantro tossed in a white balsamic/olive oil dressing.
Jim woke me up at 0545 hours on Tuesday morning with a thermal cup of coffee in hand. By 0600 we had the anchor up and were steaming out of the bay and on our way to Placencia. Unfortunately there was no wind to speak of so we took advantage of our newly tuned up engine and powered along at 2600 RPM’s making an average of 6 knots, and arrived in Placencia just after noon. There were only 4 boats here then – the emptiest I have ever seen this harbour – but by the end of the day there were a dozen.
Along with Thomas and Uli (Toriba) we caught the 3:30 Hokey Pokey water taxi to Independence and piled into John’s rattletrap car for the drive to see the officials in Big Creek. We wondered about the procedure this time, as we had heard that there was a new fee being charged at Immigration, but it went the same as always. Fill out the forms, hand over copies of our prepared crew list and passports, show our zarpe (exit permit) from Guatemala. No fee at Immigration and we were given the 30 days we asked for. Next stop – Port Authority where we showed them the boat registration papers and crew list, paid $100B for our permit and the first 2 days. Thereafter it is $5B per day. Following our usual custom, we paid for the first 10 days and agreed to pay the rest when we leave. (We never want to pay it all up front in case our plans change and we don’t stay the whole time we are allowed to.) Then we went next door to the Customs Agent where we checked off the food items we had on board and checked the No boxes for guns, drugs and tobacco, and showed our boat documents for more perusal. (ALWAYS have several copies of a prepared crew list and boat registration – it saves so much time.)
And then we were off to the water taxi dock just in time to catch the 5 o’clock boat. Uli experienced a few moments of panic when she realized she had left her iPhone at the Port Authority office, but we kept our fingers crossed that it would still be there the next day (and it was!!!)
Back in town, we stopped for a drink at Yoli’s and munched on fresh and crispy plantain chips. Yoli wasn’t serving food – she and Regan are just back from a trip and she is still settling in again. And then when we got back to the boats, the mood all went sour.
I was able to connect to Tranquilo’s wifi signal long enough to receive a note from Ellen (Cordelia) saying that our friend and dock mate at Tortugal Marina, Steve Stucko had passed away on Monday night. We were in such a state of shock. He was planning to leave there on the 24th, headed for Placencia. In fact I had picked up an earlier FB post from him saying he would see us here and I know he and Jo were looking forward to spending time exploring with Uli and Thomas. But during dinner with his friends at Tortugal he aspirated some food and no efforts by anyone, including two visiting doctors at the hotel, were enough to save him. We spent the rest of the night and following days shocked and saddened, trying to understand how such a thing can happen, and grieving along with Steve’s family and friends. More information can be found at www.riodulcechisme.com.
Uli and Thomas, and Jim and I keep sharing between us whatever information we can find, sending our love to the folks in Rio Dulce, and setting our intentions to count every day as a precious one.