June 23, 2007 Saturday
On Thursday we sent our laundry in to be done. It is just too inexpensive here to bother to do it yourself ---– 3 loads of laundry, washed, dried and folded for $9 and same-day service. Not worth running our generator and washing machine for 3 hours and using up our laundry products at that price; plus it provides a job for a local person.
Bill and Carol Langolois on S/V HOPE came over to visit Thursday night. We last saw them in
Saintes. They did a straight sail to
here from the Saintes instead of visiting the southern islands like we
did. Bill and Carol do not like it here
in Isla Margarita and plan to leave for Isle des Bonaire
soon. They plan to spend the hurricane
season in the marina in Bonaire so we will see
them again in August.
On Friday we did the Sigo shopping trip again. This time we bought something. Bill got a few cases of Polar beer ($6.33 per case) and I got 400 days of thyroid medication for only $17.05 plus one month of Premarin for $6.84. The farmacia should have more Premarin next week so I plan to buy a years supply. We also plan to check on the tablet form of the drug that Bill takes for his Crohnn’s Disease. I already checked and they don’t have the capsule form of this drug but we are hopeful that they will sell the tablet form. It would save a lot of money since Bill now pays about $2200 for a 6-month supply of the capsule drug. If the tablets work just as well then we could save a lot of money.
There have been well-publicized news articles of the various food shortages in
Venezuela. There are supposed to be shortages of meat,
chicken, eggs, sugar and rice because the government set prices are so low that
the supermarkets don’t stock these products and you are forced to buy them off
the black market. Well, these shortages
are really no big deal at all from what we have seen so far. The Sigo supermarket did not have eggs on
either of our visits this week but that was not a real inconvenience to
us. They were short on chicken breasts
on our first visit but the refrigerated cases were full of chicken breasts on
our second visit. We saw no shortages of
sugar or rice on either visit. Gossip
abounds but isn’t always true. We had
another great lunch of arepitas (wonderful little things made from rice flour
and stuffed with small amount of mild cheese and fried), plantains, various
squashes cooked with tomatoes, and Bill had a chicken breast. We don’t know how they cook the plantain
pieces, but these taste wonderful---almost like a desert.
On the local cruiser net on the VHF radio on Friday someone said that they had been ripped off this week for over $7,000 after they used their ATM card at the shopping mall. Someone had attached a card swiping device on the ATM machine. These people swiped their card and then inserted the card into the ATM. Apparently someone then watched or video recorded them entering their PIN on the keypad. At the end of the day the bad guys return and remove the card swiper device and they have all the info they need to use that debit card. This is not what happened to us in
Grenada because we would never
swipe our card prior to entering it into the ATM machine. Different island; different thieves; same
Friday night we had dinner with several other cruising couples at a very nice local seafood restaurant. The meals were great and just as nice as any restaurant back in
Houston. The reason for this dinner was to say goodbye
to Paul and Karen on DREAMWEAVER. They
were leaving for Puerto La Cruz, where they will put their boat into the marina
and then take off for a month-long trip to Peru. Hope they enjoy Cusco
and Machu Pichu as much as we did.
Today it is hot as blazes! Guess it is just the higher humidity because the temperature inside the boat is still at 83.8F, which felt cool all week but feels very warm today. A tropical wave passed through the area this morning and raised the humidity level to “not pleasant.” We thought about taking a taxi to the fancy shopping mall, but neither of us is in a shopping mood.
June 25, 2007 Monday
Last night we had a nice steak and baked potatoes dinner with Gary & Linda on RAINBOW RIDER, a Lagoon 410 catamaran. Another couple was there whose company we really enjoyed but I don’t know their names and cannot pronounce the name of their boat. They are following the same path that we plan so we certainly will meet up again along the way. All 3 of our boats are covered by the same insurance company and we had a lot of discussion about the coverage provided and restrictions for
Colombia. Seems that each of them were told different
information about Colombia coverage than we were told last October by the same
guy at the insurance agency, yet all 3 of our policies contain the same
verbiage. We had been told that we must
purchase a 30-day rider which would provide normal insurance coverage in
Colombian waters with the exception of theft.
Theft is excluded while in Colombian waters. This rider costs $200 for each 30 day
period. Gary was quoted $1600 for the Colombian
waters rider. Quite a difference! The other guy was simply told that he was
allowed to go to Cartagena
but there was no mention of any additional rider or cost. So now we are all confused about going to Cartagena. Guess we will be calling the insurance agent
again soon for clarification.
Today we again made the Sigo supermarket run in the free bus. Continued our stocking up on cases of Polar beer that Bill likes so much. It is easier to transport 3-4 cases each trip rather than buying 20 cases at once and bringing that stack of beer back to the boat in the dinghy. The anchorage here in Porlamar can be a bit rolly at times and getting boxes and beer cases from the bouncing dinghy to the rolling boat stern steps can be quite a balancing act.
Tonight we had people over to our boat for a
Texas happy hour. There are 2 other boats of Texans nearby and
we have become friends with them. And
another boat has a hailing ,
although they are not really Texans. But
we invited them anyway. I fixed (a Texan
expression) margaritas, quesadillas and guacamole and we put our large port
of Corpus Christi Texas flag on the stern of the boat in place of the usual
flag. As usual when people get together
for sundowners, the happy hour lasted well into the evening. Jaime & Dan on NERIA (from Houston) and
Ken & Cathy on CHILL (from The Woodlands) will be leaving tomorrow morning
to start toward Puerto La Cruz with a few stops at a couple of islands along
the way. Gary & Linda on RAINBOW
RIDER plan to leave in a few days.
There was a great deal of discussion today amongst many of the cruisers. There are 2 boats in the anchorage who have been cruising in
Venezuela for up to 5 years. The people on both of these boats claim that
it is not necessary to clear in and out as you travel between ports. This has convinced a few new people that they
can do this so they do not plan to clear out of Isla Margarita when they go to
Puerto La Cruz. This is totally opposite
from the information provided in the sailing guides and does not agree with
what the clearing agents tell you. So
tonight I checked every website I could find about clearance procedures in Venezuela. Every single piece of information that I
could find states exactly the same as the sailing guides and the clearance
agents. You are supposed to clear with
Immigration at the first port of your arrival in Venezuela. You obtain a cruising permit which is good
for 6 months. You then clear in with
Customs and the Port Captain. When you
leave the first port, you do not clear out with Immigration but you are
required to clear out with Customs and the Port Captain. Then you clear in with Customs and the Port
Captain at the next port. The Port
Captains are each in charge of a state in Venezuela and are only located in
the major port of each state. You are
required to clear in and out of each state as you travel around Venezuelan
waters. At your final port you are
required to also clear out with Immigration as well as Customs and the Port
Captain. This clears you out of the
country; the cruising permit is relinquished and you receive the final
clearance paper (zarpe) which allows you to clear into the next country.
We are waiting on a DHL shipment of the correct line for our mainsail outhaul. We ordered it from Amel in
Guadeloupe last Monday. Of course, the shipment went to Puerto Rico by mistake; but Bill talked to DHL this
afternoon and they said the shipment should arrive here in a few days. We tracked the shipment online late tonight
and saw that it is now in Port of Spain, Trinidad. At least
it is getting closer to Isla Margarita.
You just gotta love international overnight/priority shipping. Seems it rarely goes smoothly.
June 27, 2007 Wednesday
Yesterday we took a taxi to SAMBIL. SAMBIL is a huge, very modern, very nice shopping mall. Lots of people watching. Bill thoroughly enjoyed admiring the overly-amply-endowed yung Venezuelan women. (Plastic surgery supposedly is very inexpensive here and it is obvious that most women take full advantage of this low cost surgery.) Very nice stores but priced higher than we are accustomed to paying. For example, there is a Liz Claiborne store in this mall. A simple woman’s shirt cost $100 and up, and this is in duty-free Isla Margarita. It would cost minimum 11% higher on the mainland. Liz Claiborne is one of my favorite brands of casual clothing. I normally pay about $60-$75 for a simple shirt in department stores in
Houston. We were surprised at how many US brand
stores are in the SAMBIL mall.
The main reason we went to this mall is the cinema multiplex where they are supposed to show latest release US movies in English with Spanish subtitles. We haven’t seen a movie since last July in
Trinidad so this
appealed to us. Actually, just sitting
in the cold air-conditioning for a few hours appealed to us. There was a lousy choice of movies. They were mostly horror type films or murder
stuff; definitely not my type of movie.
The remaining choices were Spiderman 3, Shrek 3 or Pirates of the Caribbean 3. We
decided on the Piratas. However, when I
tried to purchase tickets the cashier was kind enough to tell me that “Piratas
es solo en espanol.” Well…..that just
won’t work for us. So, in the end – no
movie for us.
But I had very good sushi for lunch and we found another package of thyroid medication (for $2.31 for a 50-day supply--- wow; what a deal compared to high US prices!).
Back on the boat in the afternoon and I enjoyed sitting in the shade of the cockpit and watching the birds while Bill messed around on the computer. The large pelicans here often fly in formation. We call them squadrons. Twenty to thirty birds will line up single file and fly back and forth through the anchorage. They will fly only about a foot off the water and glide long distances without flapping their wings. A pilot tells me that they are using the resistance of being so close to the water to assist in their flight so that they rarely need to flap their wings. It is entertaining to watch them patrol through the anchorage in this fashion.
The Venezuelan pangas are also entertaining. These boats look so graceful with their curved high prows cutting through the water. The pangas are made from wood and are constructed without any patterns or printed designs. The designs for these boats are simply in the memories of the men constructing them. The pangas can be anywhere from 12 to 45 feet long, although most of the ones we have seen are in the range of 20-25 feet. These little boats are very distinctive and the curved very high prows cut through the waves quite efficiently. They can be pretty fast depending on the size of the outboard. I love watching them motor around.
As of this afternoon our DHL shipment is being held on the Venezuelan mainland for “clearing delay.” Good thing we weren’t in a hurry to receive this rope. And thanks to Kristina we have received the claim forms for the recent ATM fraud in
Grenada. The deadline to get this completed claim form
back to the bank is tomorrow. So guess
we will be relying on Kristina once again to handle this for us because we
cannot find a functioning fax machine here in Porlamar. We can get it scanned and email it to
Kristina this afternoon and hopefully she can print it and fax it to the bank
tomorrow. Thank goodness we have
reliable people back home to help us when we need it.