Getting Settled in Isla Mujeres
16 January 2016 | Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Beth / hot, windblown and tired
There has not been much that’s quick and easy about coming into Mexico this time. When we arrived 4 years ago, we pulled into El Milagro Marina, and Julio had the officials right there, ready to do all our paper work. This time, we were anchoring and although we really like our agent, Dorita, it has taken a lot more time. A couple of pluses though – because we went over to Cancun to get a 10-year importation certificate for Madcap last time, we didn’t have to go over to Cancun; and because we were not at a marina, no one felt it necessary to search the boat.
Jim left our paperwork with Dorita on Friday afternoon when we arrived, and it wasn’t just a sheet or two! 2 original passports and 7 copies each of: passports, crew list, vessel registration, proof of boat insurance (or a form saying the Captain would be responsible for any damage done while we are in the country) exit permit from Belize, import permit to Mexico - it all added up to a thick folder. But the officials don’t work Friday afternoons. We had an appointment for 9 am on Saturday to complete the process. (There was some overtime charge. At this time, I am not sure exactly how much – but Jim handed over 2900 pesos total.) None of the officials showed up till 9:30 and then they came one after another with not much wait between them except for the Customs woman who had to come from Cancun. First, the Sanitation/Health man, then Immgration, then Agriculture, and then we went for brunch while we waited for Customs. Each officer carried a clipboard with many forms, carbon paper, and a stamp. And boy oh boy do those stamps get used. Each person stamps whatever they require from the papers we took in, adding more of their own. I counted 37 stamp,stamp,stamp,stamps from the Agriculture man! And he didn’t even have a self-inking stamp – he carried the old-fashioned stamp and inkpad. None of this is done electronically, so it is cumbersome, but they were all polite and welcomed us warmly to their country.
We collected all our official documents from Dorita after brunch – except for the receipt, which would not be available until Monday. We discovered that it is very important to have that receipt – and copies of it – because if one flies out while the boat is here, the immigration officers at the airport will not accept the little insert in the passport as enough proof that you have paid your immigration fee on entry. Without the receipt you may have to pay it again.
We learned another thing from Dorita about the boat importation permit. They are good for 10 years, so if we bring Madcap back into the country before the end of January 2022, we have no problem. However if we do not cancel that permit, and come back sometime after that, we may have to pay a huge fee – about 20,000 pesos! As Dorita said, normally a permit just expires and you get a new one. Not so with importation permits in Mexico. Of course this cannot be cancelled (or applied for ) online. You must personally appear at the office over in Cancun. It appeared to be optional but recommended 4 years ago, but it seems to be necessary now.
By 1 o’clock we were finished and we went for a walk around El Centro. It’s funny, I remember finding the place vibrant and interesting when we arrived last time, while this time it just seemed hot, crowded with bikes and golf carts and hawkers calling us to come into every little shop along the streets, and tour guides thrusting signs at us to join their excursions.
We visited the grocery store by the square, and went to Adrian’s Internet Café just 2 doors up to get a sim chip for my iPad. No luck on that score – the Patron was not in and he was the only one who knew how to do it. By then we had had enough of the hustle and bustle, and we knew there was more bad weather coming so we needed to see about moving Madcap yet again.
The wind was expected to pick up to North 20-25 kts on Sunday, and we didn’t want to be blowing around in the main anchorage with no protection. So we dinghied into the lagoon, checked on the depths and available space and decided to move. We felt much more comfortable, but the disadvantage was no internet connection. Oh well – we were still fatigued from the trip, discouraged by the thought of more wind, wishing we could connect on internet, and generally out of sorts, but at least we were safe and settled.