Buenos is how they all greet each other here. My Portunhol, there is
Portuguese/Spanish mix is getting better every day. I want to relate our
immigration problems here as it took me back to Brazil 20 years ago.
When we first docked at the Marina, we were told not to get on shore until
we had cleared immigration, port captain, customs, agriculture and health
inspections. After 2 hours waiting a small boat approached us with 3 men and
2 women. One of the ladies had high heels and had some difficulty getting on
board. They crowded inside our boat checking the cabinets, asking where we
bought our provisions, which were from everywhere (Brazil, Trinidad,
Caribbean, Miami, Cozumel, San Andres). The customs guy and the
lady as well as the Port Captain were very friendly and soon gave us
clearance. There was a friendly young girl, I have no idea what her duties
were, as she talked to me the whole time about the World cup soccer and how
disappointed she was that Brazil had lost. There was one guy, the
immigration one, who never smiled, sat and read every page, I mean every
page, of our passports at least 5 times. They all talked to each other in
very fast Spanish so I couldn't understand much. After a long time I figured
it out. He was having a problem because our boat papers were from our last
port, there is, San Andres, Colombia, and our passports had no stamp from
the Colombian immigration. I explained to him that we did not know why the
Colombians had not stamped our passports and that they had our passports
day. He was not satisfied and I could tell that the other guys were trying
to tell him just to let go but he wouldn't. He was unhappy and finally he
took our passports and told us that we should go to his office next morning.
So we did.
The office, at the small airport, a small, crowded room that also served as
the customs inspection room, was packed. There were 3 Costa Rican ladies
whose bags were being inspected. Strange because they were leaving not
coming in. We waited for hours and our man did not show up. We were told to
come back in an hour. We did. Waited another 2 hours and nothing, he didn't
show up. We decided to go back to town to eat something and left a message
that we would come back next day or if he would like to talk to us we were
at the boat. Jerry didn't' think it was such a good message as the man had
our passports after all.
Morning next day, we took a water taxi and went to the airport again. He was
there and told us to sit. He shuffled again our passports and told us that
he had worked all day the prior day, very hard with all the authorities
trying to solve our problem. He repeated to us so many times how difficult
it had been to convince his boss that he should OK our passports as
normally they would have sent us back, (I wandered where to?) since the
Colombians had not stamped our papers. He dried the sweat from his
and his facial expression showed us clearly how hard it has been. My
thinking was " this is going to cost us some" and how are we going to do
this? I lost my practice as I have not done this in a long time. He then
very slowly stamped our passports, Russell's first, at which point Russell
immediately picked it up. The man promptly said, "not yet". He then got a
ruler and very slowly, as if sketching an important picture, draw a precise
line under the stamp, and even more slowly wrote and signed it. And even
more slowly glued a stamp on it and explained that Jerry and Russell had to
pay $12 each. Then he repeated the same procedure for Jerry and mine
passports. And then he pulled a paper to show me that I did not have to pay
the $12 because Brazil has an agreement with Panama for free visas. I
my best Brazilian smile and said so many gracias. This entire time he was
repeating how much he had worked to get our visas and how difficult it had
been. After a few hours, we had our passports and Russell slid a tip on his
hand. We walked out of there as fast as we could.
Other than that, everybody in town is very friendly and we feel very safe.
The town is dirty, I don't like that, and we were told by a Dutch man that
owns one of the hotels that it was worse 5 years ago. Tourism started here
then and it has booming. Everything, except fruit, cost the same as in
California. The currency is the same. The economy is in a cash basis, no
tax, and we haven't used our credit card yet. But our money is going fast.
The town has so many small markets, many owned by Chinese, and small
stores with a lot of the same things we buy in the US. I have seen so many
Brazilian flags and people with Brazilian shirts because of the world cup
Uncle Walla, we bought Mangos yesterday but we haven't tasted them yet.
green still. The bananas are good but we have seen only one kind. The
papayas are huge, 6lbs type. How are you doing? Did you get my other e-
Would you please send this one to the gang? You can send me e-mails. We
good connection where we are.
Our day started sunny but now it started to be overcast. We are waiting for
the mechanic to finish fixing our boat so we can anchor out in one of the
small islands and go swimming.
Aloha to you all,