Saturday, April 17, 2010

Tehuantepec and Puerto Madero

April 17, 201- 1:30PM local
Position: 15°59' N 094°04' W
Underway from Puerto Madero, Mexico toward Huatulco, Mexico
Miles YTD: 2845
Day: 1691
Mile: 29,069

Arriving at the breakwater of Puerto Madero, Mexico on April 14th around 8:45PM we decided to take the conservative approach and just anchor out for the night. The wind and waves were pretty mild so we got a good nights rest. The next morning we motored into the North Basin and dropped anchor in the company of several other yachts. Holding in 7-8 meters was terrible and it took two anchors and about seven tries to get the anchors satisfactorily set. Undoubtedly, the neighboring boats derived some entertainment from our struggles as they enjoyed their morning coffee. Next stop was the palapa lined sand beach just inside the breakwater where we landed the dinghy for the short walk to the Port Captains office. Checking into with the Port Captain was pretty easy and made easier in that we could pay for the Port Captains fees with a credit card on the spot in lieu of having to go to a bank to pay the fee and return with a receipt.

Next stop Immigration at the Tapachula airport some 18 miles inland. We jumped on a collectivo, a 5 peso ride on a mini-truck with a covered bed, for the ride into Puerto Madero proper, from there we hopped on another collectivo, this time a 15 peso mini-van for the ride toward the airport. We got dropped off at the airport entrance road and walked maybe 1/4 mile to the terminal. It turns out the immigration office is not in the terminal building, but in the administrative buildings on your right as you approach the main terminal. Fees for the three of us amounted to the equivalent of US $72. We actually paid in dollars as we had yet to make it to an ATM or bank thus far.

Heading out of the airport we decided on a day trip adventure to Tapachula population about 135,000. Approaching the city we saw some familiar mega chain stores such as Sams, Walmart, Office Depot and Home Depot. Luckily, the more closely we approached the 'Centro' the more authentic the experience. First stop was about 5 minutes from 'Centro' and we explored the stalls of a pretty large market. Super friendly people and big smiles at every turn. It seems Tapachula gets very little tourism so we were quite the spectacle. One little boy even reached out to touch my hand... apparently, to see if my white skin was real or if I was a ghost. We purchased lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and some freshly made chorizo. Next we wanted to have lunch at the central square and take in the sights of the adjoining side streets. What a treat to browse the vibrant and colorful shops and street vendor wares. Since it was pretty hot we stopped for a beer at a very sketchy local bar. Loud music and many drunk, but friendly patrons. Back to the beach palapas and our dingy where we enjoyed a waterfront dinner with the restaurant all to ourselves. The proprietor was glad to have us and even convinced us to return for breakfast by setting a firm time of 7AM and taking our orders that very evening for the next morning.

Wishing for a little more sleep we pulled ourselves out of bed to make the appointed breakfast reservation... worried that our eggs would be ready and waiting. Ahh to be disappointed. Not only were our eggs not ready, I think the owner had to go collect the eggs as it seemed we had waited long enough for the eggs to be laid. In the interim we sipped on Nescafe instant coffee which is pretty much worse than bad. Where was the famous Chiapas coffee? When the food arrived it was disgusting. I think my eggs were poached in a luke warm deep fat fryer. The side of refried beans slid across the plate and was accompanied with several imbedded hairs. Where the heck was the cook? Anyway, I decided to further postpone my breakfast and eat something later on the boat. Kathy and Brant took tentative bites, but did not eat too much.

Next stop the fuel dock to jerry can some diesel for the next leg of our voyage north across the infamous Tehuantepec the most dangerous area on the Mexican coast for high winds. It took several trips to the fuel dock which is NOT designed for yachts let alone dinghys. The second to last administrative stop was the API office to pay the US $7.50 per day port fee to anchor in the bay. Then back to the Port Captain to produce all the paperwork for his approval.

Since it was now afternoon we enjoyed lunch and a swim at a different beach front palapa restaurant. We were not disappointed and the food was great.

Todays challenge is crossing the Tehuantepec and we are lucky as the winds are light, but the forecast is for 20 knots later. Given the vicious reputation of the Tehuantepec we are following the coastal route as to be ready to duck in toward the shore if the winds start to howl. So far so good so we are running 5-7 miles off the beach to make navigation less stressful than a closer track. About 127nm to go.

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