Started with a Plop
It all started with a PLOP and the real reason behind our hasty retreat from the Isles des Saintes.
Warning - this blog contains a photo of an adult nature, those readers taking beta-blockers should only look at the written material to avoid alarm.
After deciding it was too late to clear in to the Isles des Saintes on the 27th of March, we settled to an evening of games, supper and a couple of episodes of The Sopranos. Bear jumped up the next morning (the 28th) armed with ships papers, insurance documents and passports just as he always does. I started some chores as I heard the outboard roar off. Some time later I heard the footfall of Bear returning, his face for some reason was quite grey, “what’s up”. Not only was Customs and Immigration closed until Monday, as I got on board I heard a plop, it was your passport, didn't you hear me say F K
“No and OH” My heart fell into my boots.
Not only did we leave Isles des Saintes behind, I left a bit of me behind. I have held a British Passport for over thirty years, never once losing, miss-placing or not able to put my hand to it. EVER.
His version of events.
I went to clear in by dinghy, but the office was closed until Monday at 07:30 am, so I returned to Beez. The sea was very rolly and the current pulled the dinghy around the back of the boat to the port side. Rather than climb off the dinghy onto the stern platform (as I normally do) as it was bobbing in and out of the water so much, I decided to reach over the cockpit combing with the folder containing papers etc. and drop it in. I heard a plop as the folder went over the lip of the combing. I didn’t see anything fall but from the sound it could only have been a biro or a passport, I straightaway looked into the water, I saw nothing floating and/or sinking at this point, so I climbed aboard and sadly found it was Pepes' passport. Talk about a heart sink moment or what ????
"Normal" face to fixed _expression_. Bear put his dive kit on but in a hundred feet of water, wind blowing a Hooley and a strong current, ‘Needle in a hay stack’ came to mind. At this point I was not sure if I had to go back to the UK or what. Nothing could be done as week end, no Foreign Office, so Vodka was put near to hand. Bear thought he could placate me somewhat by taking me to lunch. The starter was damp mash with a fishy overtone, mains tried to look like Dominican chicken but failed, reminding me of school lunch but more expensive.
Bear with his nadgers in his vice, I always knew I would make use of it some day.......................... other than to crack my coconuts.................................
Off the next morning to Guadeloupe (the 29th). HAPPY BIRTHDAY MARTIN. Actually I really enjoyed the sail, engine assisted as the wind and current were against us. Lots of nav. things for me to do.
Well marked entry to the marina, and, a pelican came in to land on a green marker to welcome us
Fortunately we are in the EU and passport control is done through the Marina Office. Bear only had to fill in our passport numbers meaning I have freedom, not as I feared boat arrest as an illegal alien. Needless to say - sleepless night amply aided by the “blessed kissing fish” snogging Beez Neez hull all night long.
Monday the 30th was spent in frustration, new country, new phone/code numbers, no answer from Foreign Office. Tuesday the 31st of March. Bear phoned at 08:00 and the upshot was a visit from Mr. David Woods, Honorary Consul. Very helpful, been here thirty one years and never once asked to show his passport. After lunch and form filling we trotted to the nearby post office, closed until three so we wandered to the Aquarium for the hour we needed to fill (own blog). The tickets gave us a reduced drink at the bar next door, the Coco Cafe, so a stiff rum punch was much welcomed, watched a huge Iguana stroll down the pontoon opposite. Back to the marina post office only to be told we needed a main Poste as they could not do the Euro postal orders we needed. Very helpful owners and the man spoke very good English, he provided us with a map, directions and translation of what to ask for. “Go early tomorrow as the postal workers are on strike on Thursday".
Wednesday up with the larks, April Fool's Day, on the bus for the half Euro price each in to town instead of the ten plus Euros by taxi. Standing at the bus stop we saw piles of rubbish and knew the bus could be a while as ladies in the queue were sitting on deck chairs. Arriving in the town of Pointe a Pitre the first thing we saw was a man taking 'forty winks' A local fisherman selling his catch on the quayside with ever hungry Pelicans waiting for titbits, standing at the front of the boat.
Him, her and them
A ten minute walk to the main post office and a two hour queue. This gave me long enough to study so many people in so much depth that I moved to studying feet. Yes feet. Half an hour at the tellers window and I needed a KFC to sooth my frazzled nerves.
Many feet were well overdue for a visit to a decent Chiropodist. Whilst in the queue I saw a Novice Nun wearing a pair of bling shades, two post office doors being replaced and a queue jumper dealt with harshly.
My bouquet of three Heliconia being purchased.
Off we went again heading to KFC (with the fruit and veg market in front). McDonalds with its sunshade hanging off. I had just started to feel somewhat relieved and perhaps even a little softer toward Bear, when he pipes upOne good thing, at least we got some Tesco Club points in the post office for paying with our Visa card.
Watch Pepes' lips disappear.
See Pepe look for an uncovered man hole to shove Bear down.
Steady Bear Steady, you can only push your luck so far you know.
Whilst Bear queued for the KFC a child was making his seat squeak, Pepe afforded him one of those ‘Stop a speeding train’ looks, result = no more squeaking chair, child looking pale, shocked and eating very quickly.
A traditionally dressed lady, a view of the port area and our fruit sellers (giving Bear a free bunch of Ladies Fingers, tiny bananas, perhaps she could tell he was a haunted man). Back on the bus via the fruit and veg market. I must at this point say to - Martin, on hand to co-ordinate UK post - Thank you. Jump Jet, on standby for Fed Ex -Thank you and for laughing so heartily at my plight, which probably helped me to not hurt Bear much, much more than I did.
En route back to Beez we found this Mini Moke to add to the "one careful owner" file, or I said at the time "a wreck in a wreck" Do you honestly blame me - "Shut it, while you still have lips".
Just prior to this fiasco I had said we would have to be on an economy drive to be able to afford our plane tickets back to the UK for a visit in August. NEVER will I say those words again. Since then we have lost our very good tenant, Bear has lost a lens out of this glasses and to add insult to injury, he told me in the post office queue that MY glasses were ata jaunty angle. I tried to straighten them and the arm fell off. That was it, a swift punch to the lower regions left Bear with a pale face and set at an equally jaunty angle.
Back on Beez at 14:00, vodka in hand, flowers chopped and in cut down Sprite bottle, 250.70 Euros lighter. (52.70 Euros for courier post, 21 for return post, 147.50 for new passport, 5 for flowers 18 for KFC, 2 for 2-way bus tickets). Cheaper than having to fly to Newport, Gwent for your replacement passport -
See Bear run off to Winston's Chandlery until Vodka takes effect.
Run Bear Run………………………….
ALL IN ALL I feel I have watched paint dry with expenses.