Tuesday, 12 November 2013

"Mañana..." and our adventure with Aduanas Mexico

We had timed our arrival in Ensenada for early Thursday morning -- we arrived 7:30am -- so that we would have time for the 2-3 hours required for immigration clearance/paperwork etc. We met Cruiseport Marina's agent at 8:30am to start the process. However, we were told "Port Captain is too busy today... we'll go mañana".  So, we agreed to meet Friday morning.

Friday morning: "Port Captain closes early today and everything very busy at CIS" (where immigration, port captain, customs, fishing license, and the Banjercito bank are all located in one place -- apparently one of only two ports in Mexico with this). "We will do it Monday morning".

OK, so we'll be illegal aliens for a few more days. Supposedly, no-one cares (turns out this is not true, but we encountered no issues with this*).

Monday morning, it turns out that the same had been said to many other boats. To top it off, our marina had only one agent to help. (However, Enrique proved to be excellent.) We were shuttled off to CIS -- we were lucky (?) to be first in line from our marina. CIS was very busy (huh? I thought last week was the busy week) -- lots of boats put off to Monday.

All went well, especially with the help of Enrique. Then it was time for David to push the red light/green light at customs (anyone who has flown into Mexico will recall these stoplights -- supposedly they are random, and getting a "Green" means you are clear to pass; "Red" means ??). Of course, as David pushes the button, the red flashes and a very loud buzzer goes off. Everyone turns to see who was the unlucky one, staring at David.

What it meant was that customs had to come down to the boat to inspect it. We had to wait a while until a customs officer was available and Enrique called a driver. Now, we could say that Pelagia was thoroughly searched; indeed, torn apart. We could say the customs confiscated our wine and spirits and all our food. But, in reality, our customs officer turned out to be a very relaxed young woman who joked with our driver and Enrique, who came to the boat but never stepped on to it. She asked no questions but only wanted a photo of our Hull Identification Number (she asked David to take the photo) and one photo of the boat. She asked not a single question. It was all very pleasant (well, except for David worrying after the red light/buzzer went off).

To top it off, because of our extra customs visit, we got back to the boat faster than anyone else.

* One boat was told they had to pay a US$300 fine, but this eventually dropped to $0 when they objected, saying the marina told them to wait.

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