Thursday, December 6, 2012

Adiós San Diego...Hola Ensenada, México!

Early morning cruising to Mexico.
A little after 5:00 am on Sunday, we quietly untied our docklines and slipped out of Sun Harbor Marina in San Diego, our home for the past month, and made our way south to Mexico.  Despite the darkness, the fog, and the forecasted lack of wind, we were excited to be heading to Mexico.  As the sun finally broke through the fog we got our first glimpses of Mexico as we passed east of Los Coronados, a group of small islands just south of Point Loma.  The ocean swells from the northwest were in the range of 8-10 feet but the period between them was about 15 seconds and because they were following us (coming from behind the boat) they were quite manageable.  About halfway through our trip, Richard raised the sails as we were getting a building wind from behind us which allowed us to downwind sail with the headsail deployed.

Cruisport Village Marina, Ensenada, Mexico.
The entrance to Ensenada via Bahia Todos Los Santos saw continued brisk wind and a slight increase in the waves crossing the bay.  Richard had prepared a Spanish radio communication to announce our arrival to the port captain. After hailing the port captain and reading his prepared script, the port captain asked a question which was not part of Richard's prepared script. Richard quickly got his Spanish dictionary and attempted to translate both the question and a response.  After a brief moment, we heard the port captain hail English!  We both laughed and decided "no worries" as we had successfully announced our arrival and were now free to transit to our slip in the Cruiseport Village Marina.  We would have to wait until Monday morning to meet up with the marina manager who was going to help us get our paperwork together in order to facilitate our official arrival in Mexico.  Besides, we were tired from a 12 hour trip down from San Diego and just wanted to eat and call it a night.

Many windows involved in checking into Mexico.
Luckily, everything is located in one central location.
The next morning, Richard and I got our passports and other documents together and headed up to the marina office to meet up with Jonathan who was going to help us get everything in order.  Once all the copies were made and everything looked good, Jonathan told us that Enrique was going to drive us to the immigration office downtown and walk us through the customs process. After going from window to window, presenting passports, getting bank receipts, returning to other windows, back to the bank window, etc., we were finally cleared in and the only thing left to do was PRESS THE BUTTON. 

At the final window is what looks like a traffic light with just the red and green lights and a button right below.  The boat captain approaches the button, says a little prayer (in Spanish, hopefully!) presses the button and hopes for a green light which means essentially "You passed, Bienvenidos a Mexico!"  If you get the red light (accompanied by a very loud signal that sounds like every "wrong" buzzer sound in the world) then a customs official must accompany you to your boat and do a full inspection.  According to our friends on Rhythm, who did get the red light, all that happened was the customs official accompanied them to their boat and verified that the engine serial number presented to the customs officials matched the serial number on the actual engine. But our green light meant we we free to walk around and enjoy Mexico.  Felices tiempo!

The next thing on our to do list was to purchase a banda ancha which is the equivalent of a device that allows you to access the internet via cell signals.  Our first attempt to secure this device resulted in us being told to come back later as they had the sticks but not the SIM cards.  When we returned, it seems they didn't have either items and we were asked to come back tomorrow morning.  Okay...we'll come back tomorrow.

This flag is CRAZY big!
We walked around Ensenada and pretty much saw most of what there is to see in the city proper.  We did see the ridiculously enormous bandera (flag) flying from the zona touristica which is goofy but does provide a great reference point when walking around the city.  One of our guide books says that this flag can probably be seen from space and given its size, I don't doubt it!

We ate a a local comida and about halfway through our meal, Richard asked if we should be eating the ensalada (salad). There are suspicions that eating raw fruits and vegetables that are "washed" with Mexican water can lead to gastro-intestinal problems (read: Montezuma's Revenge). We decided that if we slowly build up our tolerance, by only eating a little salad at a time and gradually increasing our ensalada intake, we should be able to effectively build a tolerance to anything that might try to take us down. That's our plan anyway, and we'll stick to it until one or both of us can't be more than a few feet from the toilet without worrying.

So we returned to the banda ancha store only to be told that we need to come back later in the day.  Okay...I guess we'll come back later.

Meanwhile, Joyce and Bob from Charra arrived and are docked a few slips away from us and have plans to leave Ensenada on Wednesday.  Richard and I think that we will be here until Thursday morning as we still need to get out banda ancha and Mexican cell phones (these will basically be used like walkie-talkies so that Richard and I can stay in touch while on separate adventures throughout Mexico).  I like to get up early and take a walk to get some exercise in and other times Richard needs to run about town looking for marine parts so the phones will allow us to keep in touch and not have to guess where the other one is at any given time.

Today I changed the oil in the outboard engine.  Painless.

After we leave Ensenada, we will be doing a couple of long hauls requiring overnight passages and anchoring in more rural locations.  We are actually excited about the opportunity to anchor out as we have spent more time in marinas these past three months than we usually do when sailing.

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