Last Thursday, we went to renew our tourist visas in Placencia, Belize. We HAVE to renew this day because our visas expires the following day, which is a holiday of course and then it's the weekend. We could get in serious trouble if we don't get the paper work through. Oh, who would have guessed it would take ALL day and that we would end up checking out of the country instead. All the while the Swine Flu epidemic is exploding across the border in Mexico and the local chatter is close to panic. Many locals suspect it's here too, it's just that government isn't so speedy in detecting and reporting. We take our chances but try to stay at least 6 feet from everyone we meet.
Step 1: 8:30 AM Take dingy 2 miles across open choppy waters and up Big Creek to the shipping port. Walk down dusty road amongst shipping cranes, trucks, etc. Lucky us! We passed some other sailors who had determined the immigration officer was "away" until maybe 2PM. Turn around and go back to boat.
Step 2 Go shopping non stop, get fuel, water, propane, beer and groceries to last a few weeks. If there really is a pandemic we want to get the heck out of here and out to the reefs.
Step 3 1PM head for immigration office. Take dingy 2 miles across open choppy waters and up Big creek to the shipping port. Walk on dusty roads, get really lucky and find a cab driver to take us on the rounds to immigration and customs for only $25BZD (12.5USD). Go to police station (immigation) officer not there, "he'll be back at 3PM maybe" Go to immigrations officers home, airport and favorite restaurant just to check to see if he's there... it's a small town so all this is actually possible. Along the way get propane tank filled and pass fields of dusty homes, roaming chickens and pigs and people walking around with face masks. But hey! That truck looks like the immigration officer truck. Chase down truck to police station and meet really friendly immigration guy. He hasn't had lunch yet, but is happy to help us out.
Dave: We would like to renew our visas.
Officer: I can't renew visas.
Dave and Kathy: Oooo!
Kathy: I guess we are checking out then.
Dave: Ok, can you check us out?
Officer: Yes I can do that. Can I have your crew list please?
Dave: Oooo, crew list?
We get it all worked out and back into the cab and off to Customs. We walk in door to some nice cool A/C but some other people are in the office so he asks us to wait outside where we sweat for ten minutes wondering if we've contracted the swine flu from the taxi driver. People leave.
We quickly get the international clearance and we are out the door.
Step 3: Back to boat and try to sail to Honduras. Bu the wind does not cooperate.
So we end up in the Rio Dulce in Guatemala, like all cruisers do at one point or another. It's hot here!