2nd April. Immigration Ahoy. Zoonie is impounded!

Sat 2 Apr 2016 13:01

2nd April. Immigration Ahoy. Zoonie is impounded!

Ariosto motored his boatload of four Immigration Officers to us three days ago, on Tuesday. Two men, two women of varying abilities and tasks.

They clambered aboard and after numerous attempts made it into the cockpit. One of the ladies, the older one, removed her shoes to reveal jazzy, multi-coloured socks which I verbally admired, “Like your socks,” I said, she giggled and the other lady had to find a safe spot for her high heels.

It took a while to explain to one of the young gentlemen that we did not have our Zarpe, it was in the office, “Please explain Ariosto, you took it with you!” The same lad then started filling details of Zoonie onto the sheet for the Cat that had arrived the day before. I physically went through the papers on his lap to show him Zoonie’s name, so he continued on the correct one. He appeared dazed and a little disinterested in the whole experience.

Then the older lady gesticulated she wanted to see our food supplies. In descending the companionway steps facing forward her stockinged foot slipped on the wood and she was propelled, without a hint of elegance, into the saloon more quickly than expected. She squealed, I yelled “Oh no” but all was well and we laughed about it, nervously.

The ladies were most interested in the contents of the fridge and high heeled lady held up the big chocolate bar and went “Hmmm” eyebrows raised. Not that one I think, and I gave her a little Snicker instead which she promptly demolished.

One by one all my precious stores were held up for inspection and countless times I was advised they were nearly out of date and we would have to do a lot of eating before June to stay legal! I’m just glad they did not look in the cupboards behind where typical eat by dates start from 2012!

I took them to a safe area, tins. We were ok there but oh, the biscuits, they would be out of date by the time they come back to clear us out in June, we’ll have to think on that one.

Rob and the youngest officer came below and started going through safety equipment. As he was sitting down I asked him if he wasn’t very hot in his thick jacket, heavy trousers and boots, it was after all 38’ and 70% humidity below. He said signed he was ok, despite rivers of sweat running down his cheeks. All was well until he asked about flares. We have hand held, rocket and canister flares and they are expensive. They were all dated 12/2015. He made it quite clear we would not be moving Zoonie until they were replaced. I hoped he was boiling!

While he was busy pen pushing Rob commented in my ear that high heel lady had just started her monthly and was leaving red skid marks on the upholstery in the cockpit and saloon, in fact wherever she sat.

By this time I was beginning to feel this was all a little too much and I hoped they were nearing the end of their inspection. I popped my head up the companionway steps and clasping the side of the companionway under each elbow started making small talk with the ladies who had retreated to the cockpit seats to cool down. They could not believe how hot it was on board.

HH lady started tapping away on her phone, then pressed for the translation app and held the phone up to me, “I’m ashamed” it read and I said “Why?” She explained in Spanish with a word similar to menstrual in it and I said “Oh no no, don’t worry” and stroked her arm, poor woman, she must have wanted out, back to the aircon of the car and privacy of the ladies loo, as much as we wanted out boat back.

Long and the short is Juan in the office arranged for Giovanny to taxi us to Manta where he knew of a good chandlery/ ironmongers(Ferretaria) and we could replace our flares.

I had recently read about an unfortunate solo sailor who had his yacht sunk under him by a whale in the Sea of Cortez in the Baha California and while languishing in his liferaft, awaiting rescue, he had sent off all his flares to find none of the out of date ones worked but all of the in date ones did. So they had a point. We did need some new flares – at a cost of $560, oh boy, our poor bank account.

That night there was a tremendous thunder storm with lightening and rain bouncing around the hills that surround Bahia. We watched it from the bar glad that we had closed all the hatches and windows before we left.

Kim and Katelina were leaving the next morning and were enjoying a last meal in the bar. We said our goodbyes and motored the short distance back to Zoonie in the rain which was wonderfully cool.

Sleep was not forthcoming as it was too hot and sticky – it can be a tough trip through paradise.

We were back across the little strip of water early the next morning to meet Giovanny at 8.00am for the 90kmtrs drive to Manta. All the way we travelled through agricultural Ecuador. Family farms produced maize, melons, pimientos all over the undulating hills covered in rich, fertile red soil, reminiscent of Devon. On vast areas of flat, alluvial plains people were bent double planting rice in ‘paddy’ fields which also were home to fish for the eating and looking more like China than I had ever expected.

Their homes were built on stilts to protect them from flooding and underneath was shade, room for storage and somewhere to hang the washing. Rarely if ever do the farmers use expensive fertilisers, so through poverty their crops are organic and they sell them from stalls at the side of the road and ship them to markets by pickup truck.

Most of the work is done by hand from picking on the land to selling in the markets where dexterous women’s hand will peel, shuck and chop so some of their produce is sold ready prepared.

Giovanny had a little English and I had a little Spanish so we learned about each other in undemanding chat. Both his children speak English, his daughter is a doctor and his son a lawyer, “Giovanny, you have it sewn up, if you need a doctor or a lawyer!” He understood that.

In the impressive shop in Manta all the female staff were very beautiful, Rob was in seventh heaven, and the young lady who served us spoke perfect American, learned in school. Our flares arrived in a plastic tub lowered by rope through a rectangular hole in the ceiling along with enough engine oil for the next change.

On our way back we called into the bus station to confirm we could travel by executive coach to Guayaquil in a few days and buy the tickets the day before. Giovanny was very happy with his $60 and we were relieved we had been able to replace at least some of the flares.

After lunch aboard we went ashore for a shower and beer with some English friends who have settled here before enjoying a much cooler night’s sleep. As I type this another thunder storm is rumbling away, moodily, in the hills.

Today we are going to start getting our supplies from the super market for our pacific crossing in June. We are both looking forward to this as we can cool off in the air conditioned environment of the shopping centre.