LOSING YOUR PASSPORT IN MEXICO

On the last night of a 10k kilometer USA/Mexico tour, ending in La Paz, we realized that my husband’s passport was missing. While we don’t believe it was stolen, we remembered clearly the last place we had used it and when we saw it. 

Fast forward – we knew we were sailing to Puerto Vallarta, and since there isn’t a consular office in La Paz, we planned to visit the consulate in PV to determine how to get out of/into the country. 

STEP 1:

Fill out all online forms in advance online reporting when/where your passport went missing. This triggers the next steps. 

Fill out the form DS64 found on this page:  https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/how-apply/forms.html.  

Be ready to fill out the form and have it printed at your hotel/internet cafe.

Get passport photos in advance to speed up the process. 

STEP 2:

Visit the Consular Office in Nuevo Vallarta, inside of Paradise Village. It’s inside the Plaza shopping center where the bus stops/taxi turn around is, just outside of the area’s only Starbucks. Proceed inside and go to the far west corner office of the 2nd floor.  The office is open at 8:30am and closes around 2pm each day. You are not allowed to use cell phones inside, so if you have information on your phone you will need to access, print that information in advance or write it down on a piece of paper. You do not need an appointment as this is determined an “emergency”. 

You can take the forms (along with a passport sized photo) to the US Consular Agency found here:  https://goo.gl/maps/VjzWoSJrb24KRLyz7

USA Consular Office in Nuevo Vallarta

STEP 3:

What to bring: new passport photos without glasses, copies of the forms filled out online, color copies of your passport if you have them, details about where you lost the documents and/or police reports if your passport was stolen. Check in with security and meet with the very helpful staff there. You’ll likely need to fill out additional paperwork, but if you have copies of materials, it will go very quickly. We arrived at 8:35am, and we were the first ones in. We were out of there by 9am. 

STEP 4:

If you are flying within 24 hours, you’ll receive a letter that will get you out of Mexico and into the USA. If you are flying within a few days, you’ll likely get your temporary passport, valid for 1 year, the next day via Guadalajara.  The agent will give you a piece of paper indicating when/who to call and what time/where to get your documents. 

STEP 5:

Call the number given on the sheet of paper to get your FedEx tracking number (this is not a regular tracking number) which is required to pick up your new documents. Likely the next day, you’ll travel to the office indicated to pick up your new documents. Ours was delayed two days, and when we went into the office downtown (after the consular office said it had arrived), they people at the FEDEX office said they didn’t have it. Press them. It will be in a different location as it’s a security document, and you may need a manager who knows this. You will have to show ID and also pay for the overnight package. 

Waiting in line to pick up the passport – this process took 4 hours

STEP 6:

Go to the Immigration office inside the airport to replace your Mexican Visa (if that was lost as well). It will cost about $25 USD and is needed before going through immigration in Mexico. 

STEP 7:

Apply for a new passport before your temporary one expires in one year. Recommend ordering a passport card with your new passport – keep your passport locked up when not traveling by plane and only use your passport card, so you won’t be locked out of a country (easier to replace if it’s lost/stolen in the future). 

STEP 8:

Don’t lose the new one!

Characters, Crusaders & Criminals

Living an expat life, on a boat, in a developing country brings out all sorts of characters, crusaders and criminals.

The Characters, as you can imagine, are as varied and diverse as they are interesting. Salty sailors (mostly men) whose wives have left them or who refuse to live this life full time, the ultimate in bachelor pads. Wearing the same Hawaiian inspired print shirt day after day complete with some sort of shell necklace and a well-past-its-prime straw hat, these characters claim they are seeking solitude, but when you get them out for a beer, you cannot shut them up; they have more extroverted vs. hermit tendencies, who would give that Hawaiian shirt off their back to you if you needed it (along with well worn advice about weather, hurricanes, and Mexico culture). 

Scary one-legged clown in La Paz

The Crusaders see the Sea as something to be conquered or endured. They boast of their year-round living aboard in a heat index that averages 112 degrees in these summer months, and they often have a story of saving a whale, a boat or life during a storm. Theirs is a badge of honor to endure the conditions and often loneliness of sailing. Both the Characters & Crusaders are generous with their time and resources – bestowing fresh fish, engine parts or advice as needed. 

Then, you have the Criminals. These are the people who couldn’t make it in the “real world” or who are escaping something sinister and nefarious. Like our neighbor here (about 100 yards away), who, immediately after meeting him, claimed theirs was a “Naked Boat”, and so it is….morning, noon and night, this guy and his younger “caregiver”, who is looking after his 80 year old mother with dementia, are naked as the day is long. We’ve since learned this guy has a sordid and ugly past, and his host of stories must be true because you cannot make up the things he says. Kirby tried helping him one day with his anchor, and the minute they got to his boat, he dropped his pants and climbed aboard his boat, leaving Kirby with a Junk-In-The-Face moment that I’m sure he won’t soon forget….

The Naked Boat – as seen from Lodos

You’ve gotta be a little crazy to live this life. I’m leaving out the rest of the “normal” people here because in comparison, they/we are all just incredibly boring…

Dodging the Wind

On a mooring ball, looking northwest, at Puerto Escondido

I know we are supposed to seek wind since we are on a sailboat, but the weather plays such a huge role in where we can travel, how fast, how safely and how comfortably. Luckily, there have been no signs of hurricanes yet – they are just on the “E”s (Erick) and “F”s (Flossie), and they are still far south and west of us. August and September ups the risk, so we are trying to stay close to hurricane holes and/or places we are get to in a day in case of the worst news. 

Aside from hurricanes, there are other wind/weather conditions we have to be mindful of: 

  • Coromuels – SW wind that usually howls during the night (making for a very unpleasant sleep and rocky, swelly anchorage)
  • Elifantes – Big winds that sweep off the land and last 6+hours making it dangerous for passage making and anchoring.
  • Chubascos – A fast tornodo/hurricane like storm that lasts minutes but can pounce unannounced with winds that could rip the boat apart or toss it onto rocks. 

All of these things make us cautious where we go and where we sleep at night, obsessively checking the weather while trying not to let it interrupt our fun – we try to follow the 7 Ps: Prior Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance 🙂 

Video of Puerto Escondido Mooring Field

I have a business trip mid August and mid September, so I will hopefully be able to leave Kirby and Lodos safely in one of the hurricane holes on the west side of the Sea.  That current place is Puerto Escondido (click on link for more info and a video of the area). A reinforced natural bay that is protected from mountains on nearly every side and curves inward to a protected anchorage on mooring balls with a small marina. Every year in May, they have a huge fishing tournament which brings people here from all over the world.

A good place to work on the boat and tick off those maintenance projects!

Puerto Escondido boasts the most expensive marina in the Sea – reinforcing why they call it the Gringo Coast. The marina fees here are higher than marinas in southern California. When we were here last time, the daily fees for our boat were 4x what we paid in San Diego, so we stay out on the mooring ball.

They have decent internet, a little restaurant that makes amazing pizzas in an outdoor oven, the best air conditioned luxury bathrooms and showers, a little store (tienda) and easy access into Loreto that has an international airport with direct flights to San Diego/Tijuana. They also have a cruisers net on VHF Channel 22 at 8am daily to keep people informed of weather and other happenings – always ending with a silly sailing joke (the one today was about a pirate). Cheesy, yes, but with a dash of earnestness that even the most cynical person can embrace.

Making guacamole with the best avocados in the world: ugly outside, perfect inside!

Back in the Sea of Cortez – during hurricane season…

I love the familiarity with the sea, the anchorages, the wildlife and impending challenges we will no doubt encounter while sailing. The big difference for this 2 weeks, is that we don’t have internet, and I feel that I need it for work, which has created a new set of problems or anxiety – needing to be in a specific place for a phone call or meeting isn’t exactly the safest way to sail/travel, as it forces you to make potentially compromised decisions on weather that you might not have otherwise.

Sunset in Caleta Partida

We started this trip with a few days in Caleta Partida – an anchorage that divides two islands, and which has a narrow channel that we can take our dinghy through to get from one side of the island to the other. It’s one of our favorite places because it’s sheltered and protected but also because it’s the home to dozens of turtles.

Kirby cleaning the hull
Jodi snorkeling with sea lions

On our way to our next anchorage at San Francisco Island, we made a quick stop at a couple small islands that are home to hundreds of sea lions. The pup season ends in July. Kirby anchored the boat in a deep rocky islet while I jumped off and swam with them. They warned me to not get too close by barking at me – they were adorable and fun to see up close, and of course swimming with sea lions is pretty special.

Heading north to Isla San Francisco, we happened upon a group of 5-7 giant manta rays feeding at the surface. We stopped the boat to watch them eat, and then saw them soar under the boat with wingspans of more than 10 feet, mouths open, breathtaking….

After arriving in Isla SF, we stayed at two separate anchorages – we found some fantastic dive/snorkeling sites and appreciated the rich variety and diversity of the fish – so many we’d never seen before and that are indigenous to the Sea: Golden phase puffer fish, Cortez round ray, Cortez angel fish, and dozens of others – including 4 types of parrot fish.

Bahia Agua Verde

Our next stop was one of our favorites – at Bahia Agua Verde – but we had to scoot up to Puerto Escondido (where we are now on a mooring ball) as our refrigeration is on the fritz, we need to do laundry and dump our trash 🙂 We’ll be here for a bit while we catch up on work and projects, and I plan for my next trip to the USA for work.

And, it’s hot. So hot. ~100 degrees and nearly the same in humidity. We are having trouble keeping the fridge and freezer working properly it’s so hot….but, we are swimming and relaxing and doing our best to breath our way through it as the benefits outweigh the annoyances.

Renovations: A New Floor for the Cockpit

We are excited because we finally finished replacing the cockpit floor of our sailboat. This was a BIG project that required a cascade of smaller things to be completed first. We replaced the cockpit teak wood flooring (which was beyond saving and leaking) and put in PlasDeck, which is a synthetic teak substitute.

I will admit that this project was not much fun. It was a highly detailed, you-only-have-one-shot kind of project, and we had to work quickly as the glue dries so fast (under 15 minutes!). But, we are pleased with the finished result and are excited to have access and use of the cockpit again!

First, we prepped the floor and our new table pedestal (which Kirby built, then we fiberglassed, sealed and painted) where the table is mounted; this new pedestal will also gives us secure space to put a small trash can and (vintage) playmate cooler as well as an important toe rail/toe stop while the boat is heeling underway. We plan to put 3M non-skid tape on the sides as well.

Unrolling and letting the floor flatten before installation

After the floor sat in the sun for a couple of hours, it was flat and ready for installation. We had to prep the cockpit surface by sanding it to remove any large bumps and then cleaning it thoroughly with denatured alcohol.

Then we dry fit and traced each piece before gluing them to the seats and to the floor. You have to work in sections, and quickly, as the glue sets up in 15 minutes, also making it nearly impossible to wipe off or clean up if you aren’t cleaning as you go along.

Gluing the pieces in place (the seats were a lot easier than the floor!)

THE FINISHED PRODUCT!

TIPS: If you’re doing this job yourself, spend extra time up front on the template because once it’s cut, it’s cut! Make sure you have ALL of the materials ready before you start any work (take an inventory and use the checklist provided by the installation guide), and have dozens of clean WHITE rags with at least a gallon of denatured alcohol for spills and any glue cleanup. You can see a few videos of this project, here: SANDING, CLEANING, PREPPING FOR GLUE

FINAL TIP: Prepare to work quickly and swear (a lot).