Thursday, 4th June:
We have the luxury of 2 bedrooms in our apartment. The decision was made to sleep in the back bedroom. We have an abundance of ceiling fans and air conditioning units in both bedrooms. Great, we thought. However, the fans on full speed clonk and rattle and give the impression they are trying to wrench themselves off the ceiling. The air conditioners sound like a very noisy truck engine.
It was a stormy night and we decided to have the windows open, as our internal cooling systems were too noisy to sleep with. We were just about falling asleep when a huge crash frightened the living daylights out of us. On getting up to investigate we found a flower vase and its artificial contents smashed and broken all over the lounge floor. The gale coming through the open window had removed it from its home on a decorative shelf. Rain was also coming through the windows, so we had to close some. Dennis already commented on the solid mattress. It was not the best of nights.
We were up early to be at the shipping agents by 08.00. Consternation! I am wearing shorts and sandals and for some reason the port requires long pants and covered footwear. We thought we weren’t going to the port until Monday. Hence I was not prepared. A misunderstanding. Dennis said it was great Luis and Claudia speak English. It is very Mexican English and hard to understand. Something had got lost in translation.
We went straight to the Banjercito to cancel our Temporary Import Permit and get a refund. Claudia obviously had influence, as we went straight to the head of the long queue. The young lady behind the desk spoke perfect English, having lived in the US for 3 years. She asked me why Poki’s Registration document said in large letters across the top “THIS DOCUMENT IS NOT PROOF OF OWNERSHIP”. This is something I have always thought worrying, when it is the only ownership document one has. No one has ever mentioned it before though. Too observant of her!
Fortunately I had an old pair of trousers and my hiking boots still in Poki, so was able to change in the office toilet before we headed out to the port. Various procedures obtaining documents and getting them stamped followed.
Luis told us to drive slowly through a scanner and at the end of the road we would come to a building with a side window where we should get the document which we had just been given, stamped. We arrived at this window which was a good meter above my head. Eventually it opened and a hand came out and took the document, then shutting the window. After 10 minutes a head emerged and said something I could not hear, or understand. Poki’s engine was running and a line of trucks on the other side of the building was also deafening. I said I did not speak Spanish and the window shut again. After half an hour and no activity, Luis came along and asked if we had given the documentation.
After another delay the head came out of the window again and asked if I spoke English. I confirmed I did and a few minutes later a girl came to the window and asked us, in English, to move forward and pull over. The police would then come and escort us to the other side. What was the problem?
A frustrated Luis then asked if I had given all the documents. I hadn’t. We also had permits allowing us to be in the port. I did not realise I should have handed these over as well. Luis took these back to the office building. What a storm in a tea cup! After about 20 minutes a security truck turned up and 2 uniformed officers jumped out. Lots of talking into phones, writing on a tablet, conversing with Luis and Claudia with lots of hand waving.
I got out of Poki and said to Luis is was my mistake not understanding I should have given both lots of documents. He said there was no problem. In the end there wasn’t but we still sat there for another half an hour while the phone calls, typing on the tablet and intense discussion continued.
Next we continued to the Customs compound behind locked gates. After parking Poki and Dennis filling in a check sheet with the Customs officer relating to any blemishes to Poki’s exterior, Luis dropped us off at our apartment with instructions to look out for his message telling us when to come for the Customs inspection. This would be on Monday afternoon or Tuesday.
Friday, 5th June:
We swapped bedrooms and had a better night. A message from Luis asked us to come to the office at 11.30. We would then proceed to the port for the Customs inspection at 12.00.
Arriving at the office in a pool of sweat having walked in the heat and humidity, we met two other vehicle owners. Luis then proceeded to tell Dennis and I we couldn’t both come for the inspection. He could only seat 5 in his car and only one person from each vehicle could be present at the inspection. The other 2 had obviously been told this. So, I spent a very boring 2 hours waiting in the office.
Dennis had been chatting to the other 2 drivers, a Swiss doctor and a German lady. They had booked flights to Amsterdam for the following day. They were hiring a car and driving to Mexico City for the flight. We then asked Luis if he thought it was safe for us to leave too, as things had been processed more quickly than expected. He said yes, he was sure now that the ship would leave.
So, we walked back to our apartment and spent the afternoon looking for flights. Not easy. KLM and Air France both have services to Amsterdam and Paris about 4 times a week, but connections to the UK were amazingly difficult. An overnight was required. Easy Jet are not flying to either city, BA only has 3 services a week from Paris and the one-way fare was £330 per person!
After much searching we have booked flights on 10 June from Veracruz to Mexico City where we have to overnight. Then Mexico City/Miami/Heathrow on American Airlines, arriving back in London at 09.25 on Friday, 12th, all being well. Fingers crossed all sectors will operate!
In the evening we had a long Skype chat with friends Helen and Stuart who have spent weeks locked down in Baha. They are booked on a ship back to the UK in July. Helen and Stuart shipped from the UK to Veracruz when they came over and had a horrendous experience with pilferage and damage. They lost many of their possessions. We are carrying back everything we can, but fear we will lose things too. It is apparently a major issue shipping to/from Veracruz.
Saturday, 6th June:
Today has been a lazy day after all the running around over the last 2 days. I have been trying to see how I can possibly pack everything we need to take back and in the process find I have somehow lost my camera. Not doing too well. First breaking my phone and now losing all my photos.