On Feb. 18th I took off on an airplane for the Good Ol’ U. S. of A. Before we left San Diego on the Baja Ha-Ha, we had submitted for and obtained a 180-day visitor’s visa. We mistakenly thought that we could renew here in Mexico, but no. The rules are you can renew, but you have to leave the country and re-enter. What a perfect excuse to travel to AZ and visit friends!
I was in AZ for a week and a half. I flew from Puerto Vallarta to Phoenix and took a little shuttle bus to Tucson. The shuttle is just like a Mexican combi, except with really good shock absorbers, air-conditioning, a schedule and padding in the seats. In Tucson, my friend and hostess Belinda picked me up at the shuttle stop. It was a fun week and I made it to most of the places I needed to go by walking, taking the bus or bumming rides from friends. Now that I’m retired, what else do I have to do with my time, right?
I was able to see a whole bunch of friends and former Sunquest colleagues. In addition I got a few chores done – like getting cell phone service. One of my cruising buddies told me she has the T-Mobile plan, and it includes unlimited streaming from Netflix as part of the data plan. So T-Mobile it is.
They were able to install a SIM card in my old Verizon phone and it works, although it’s a bit of a mutant with hard-coded Verizon stuff plus the T-Mobile card. For example, the Verizon voice mail icon says that I have 255 voice mails, but there aren’t any in my T-Mobile mailbox. And there is a permanent message about an unknown SIM card, as well as one about being on roaming although my T-Mobile plan includes calls to the U. S., Canada and Mexico.
Also picked up some new shoes and clothes because, well, shoes.
Caught a couple Wildcat basketball games live on TV. Sadly they lost both, but as always, we have hopes that they get their mojo back before March Madness!
Steve and Belinda had a planned trip to Salt Lake City to see his sister and family, so they dropped me off into Alan’s care at a Denny’s parking lot in Phoenix. A few days with Alan and June (and many bottles of wine) and some more shopping (More? Why? Did I mention shoes?) then it was time to head back to Mexico.
John wanted to set up a small RO (reverse osmosis) water system (essentially a water softener) because the Mexican water is pretty hard, and it has been clogging our filters and leaving debris in our aluminum water tank. We had some new filters for the drinking water faucet delivered our friends’ house, as well as the parts for this mini-RO system. John learned about this from our friends Jim and Jessica aboard S/V Hajime (read about their travels here – Jim is the main blogger and his posts are more technical than mine will ever be).
When I returned to Mexico, my checked bag was stuffed full of new clothes and shoes, as well as things I couldn’t find here in Mexico – like piquillo peppers, cooking sherry, horseradish and believe it or not, a Mexican Train dominoes game. We are allowed up to $500 U.S. worth of goods duty-free, and I was well under that limit with my groceries and water filters. But Mexico has a random-choice customs system – even if you declare nothing because you are under the $500 limit, you have to press a button and if the light comes up green, you clear customs. If it comes up red, you get your bags x-rayed and they want to visually inspect anything that interests the custom official.
The RO system got their attention. I tried hard to explain in my pidgeon Spanish that it was a water filter for the boat, they asked how much it cost and did I have a receipt. After answering the questions three times they finally waved me through.
I was back on the boat and John had the RO system up and running before I could unpack. Our water tank is huge for a boat of Nakamal’s size – 180 gallons. To fill using just the dock hose at max flow rate is about 45 minutes to an hour. Using this little RO system, we are slowed down to between 3-4 gallons per hour. As I write this on Friday afternoon it has been running constantly for the last 73-1/2 hours – since 2:30 pm Tuesday – and the tank is about 90% full. I had the over-under at 90 hours, but since we are simultaneously using the new water, it’s turning out to be more than 90.
The docks are full of boats now, many are people in the last stages of preparing for the “Puddle Jump” – the trip across the Pacific to the Marquesas and beyond. Mornings are filled with sounds of pounding, hosing, drilling, sanding and whatever else has to be done to prepare for 3-4 weeks at sea.
In mid-March John will travel north for his renewal, then we’ll start watching for a ‘weather window’ to make our move north to Chacala, San Blas, Mazatlan, La Paz and then the Sea of Cortez for spring. In August I’ll go visit my ‘other’ home – upstate New York.
I loved seeing my friends in AZ, it was great to re-supply with new stuff and boat parts, but I was also starting to miss La Cruz, Nakamal and of course, the good Captain John. I was happy to be back, to attend the Thursday night outdoor movie (Bridge of Spies) and join the newly formed Zumba class followed by a cooling dip in the sea. Tonight is Mexican Train night at the marina deli/pool area and we can bring our spanking new domino set.
Whether Delaware County, Tucson or La Cruz, there’s no place like home.
Sunrise at the marina. Not a sight that I see very often.