I was gobsmacked. I mean you can’t be serious. Our US documentation papers were so overdue getting to us here in Golfito, Costa Rica, that we might soon be kicked out of the country due to the fact that after sixty days Escape Velocity’s registration would expire and apparently so would we. Confused? Stay tuned.
Our official domicile is Miami, FL but all our mail is kindly handled by Marce’s sister Nancy in New Jersey and other family members. Somehow our US Coast Guard’s usual timely registration renewal flow was interrupted so when our stress level threshold became high enough an emergency call to the Coasties revealed the problem.
They never heard of us.
No longer back burner stress we begged for a prompt turnaround but of course that piece of paper can only be sent to the address of record which is New Jersey. A little bit of back time math revealed we were in store for another squeaker. The call went out to the Liggett Hotline for Wayward Sailors (Marce’s Coasta Rican family) and as usual the instantaneous response was “no problema”. Just send it to our family courier in Miami and they’ll get it to us and we’ll tell you when it arrives in San Jose.
So, just to recap we have the Coasties in West Virginia sending it to New Jersey, where Emily stood in for Nancy who was loafing in Maine at the time, readdressed and repackaged to the family courier in Miami, readdressed and repackaged to Roberto in San Jose, Costa Rica, readdressed and repackaged to us in Golfito.
What could go wrong?
Well, as it turns out, plenty and this is the main point that I wanted to make, dear Escapees. They don’t have addresses. No, not the Liggetts, the country! Costa Rica! Roberto was sending the squeaker document to Golfito by bus. Where is the bus station? I really don’t recall seeing a bus station in Golfito. Oh sure it’s the yellow building. You say it’s the yellow one? Yes it’s across from the INS building. Now we’re getting somewhere. Where is the INS building? Oh very close to the Bomberos. Which has got to be near, wait for it, the yellow building. Directions become a kind of Costa Rican Who’s on First. A full 25% of mail is returned as undeliverable in Costa Rica. One official address we saw in a web site was “50 meters south of the old fig tree,” a tree that died several years ago but has a nice new fig tree growing in its place but everyone still says the old fig tree. It’s no wonder they can’t tell you where something is. The streets don’t have names. There are no numbers. I’m not kidding, I’m not clever enough to make this stuff up. We wandered around the vicinity until we happened upon the tiny yellow bus station and there, patiently waiting for us, was our US Documentation envelope. Amazing.
So, with an official letter from our rigger in English and Spanish explaining how we are all going as fast as we can to make repairs, another written by your humble servant in both languages explaining how we got here, and our renewed US Documentation we felt confident as we went to the customs office that we would be granted at least another ninety day extension which should be automatic by international maritime law for vessels in distress.
Oh no, it’s the effing dragon lady who starts to frown with impatience the second she sees the two of us step up. The tiny room is massively over cooled and crowded with disappointed-looking skippers. Confidence shaken but not broken we smile and hand her the letters one at a time in English and Spanish. She is bored, points to a date three weeks away turns on her heel and we don’t see her for an hour.
I’m determined not to reveal how upset I am so I’m left smiling like the village idiot while we shiver, cooling our heels waiting. Marce is not so reticent to show how pissed she is. So we step up to the counter, steam rising up out of Marce’s ears while I’m grinning like a simpleton, reciting the check-in skipper’s mantra, don’t get mad, don’t get mad. That’s when I find out Marce actually knows the Spanish word for lawyer.
So it’s another call on the Liggett Hotline. Marce got a call back from one of the family’s lawyers before we left the office. It’s Fabio and he says not to worry, everything’s going to be alright. Marce tells him he sounds just like Roberto. He laughs and says it’s no problema.
We hope so.