Up against the wall

After we got straight with immigration it was time to once again begin our full frontal assault on the dragon lady at the Customs Office. Bruce, a local yacht services agent, has taken us on as a special project because everything we’ve been going through represents the sum total of the various challenges he faces every day for the yachts he represents. He maintains this one person has singlehandedly tossed Golfito to the bottom of the heap of cruising grounds in Costa Rica despite the perfect anchorage and beautiful natural setting.


And there she is, Ms. Concepcion Lopez, Ms. I-Don’t-Care-If-You-Die-A-Watery-Death. We had followed the instructions given to us by Conchita’s boss through our contact at the US Embassy and got a letter from the marina that will be doing the repairs with details on schedule and timing. We, or rather Bruce, presented the dragon lady with that letter, the letter from our rigger which we had previous given to her along with the original declaration from Jack about our dismasting and the need to have safe harbor until the work can begin. She barely looked at them before saying no. Bruce, exasperated by this time, demanded to talk to the boss and the two of them raced out of the office in a huff. Jack and I sat in the waiting area for about half and hour, stunned and dejected.

When they came back it was obvious that Bruce hadn’t made any headway with the boss lady, our last hope. Bruce kept trying to get Conchita to give us a list of the documents that would qualify us for an extension but she was unmoved and refused to budge. It was obvious at that point that she really didn’t care what happened to us, she just wanted to screw us. At this point, I burst into tears and Jack started hurling invective her way, while I kicked him and told him he was making it worse. “How could it get worse?” he asked and I had to agree it couldn’t.

Bruce tried to think of some other strategies while I called Scott, our contact at the marina in Quepos. When I told him our luck had run out and we would have to leave on Friday for Panama he told me to sit tight while he spoke with the marina attorney. Bruce drove us back to Escape Velocity and on the way he decided to have Robert the Hungarian mechanic write a letter saying that he would be doing repairs, on the assumption that a local Golfito contractor might hold more sway with Conchita than someone 130 miles away. We went home with the plan to touch base later.

Scott called and told us that he and the attorney spoke with Customs in Caldera, the other end of the country and the jurisdiction the marina is in. They recommended we drive up there on Thursday, present our letters and request an extension for repairs. If it’s granted we’ll have to get Escape Velocity 130 miles to the marina before midnight Saturday night when our permit expires.

“But we can’t afford your marina!” we reminded him.

“I know,” he said. “I’m working on that.”

We promised to get to Caldera as early as possible and Jack called the car rental office to book a vehicle. With nothing else to do until Thursday I made an onion and herb dip, a corn and black bean salad and baked a batch of brownies and we dinghied ashore to the weekly pot luck dinner at Tierra Mar for some company and distraction.

We were the usual group, Tim the owner, Lisa and Sylvie, who are filling in for Katie while she’s vacationing, and a couple from the San Francisco Bay Area who came in a week ago and were on the mooring beside us. As always we regaled the crew with our latest tales of woe — we’re not always full of cheer lately — and during the course of conversation we invited Sharon and Kim from Georgia J to join us on our trek to Caldera. They didn’t need much arm twisting when we tempted them with a visit to the fabulous AutoMercado, a real supermarket.

So that’s the plan. Road trip to Caldera, a day in a car for one last ray of hope as the clock ticks down.


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7 Responses to Up against the wall

  1. Russ

    I am amazed that the US embassy does not have more power. Especially given the number of US tourests who visit CR each year. What else do the have to do. It’s not like there is a lot of tensin with CR.

  2. liz

    Though I don’t really know you, I have followed your blog since the dismasting. I am so sorry ya’ll are being treated so poorly. Compassion is lacking in our world. I am also dismayed the US embassy has not helped you more. Guess we cruisers are just a family amongst ourselves.
    s/v High Hopes

  3. Amazing lack of service, and a small cog in the wheel flexing her muscle to demonstrate her self importance. What a crock, she is paid, instead of fired as she should be.

  4. Diane Sanderbeck

    I too have been following your blog since your dismasting and am dismayed by the lack of support you’ve received from the U.S. Embassy. It is shameful the way you have been treated given your circumstances. I keep praying y’all will catch a break. That dragon lady sure is giving CR a bad name! Carry on warriors!

  5. deb

    Doesn’t this woman have a supervisor somewhere?

  6. actually the CR is pissed at the USA/ CIA because of the covert Cuba efforts – USA is not the friendly big brother in the North in the view of these folks- Panama is probably a better place for your type of repair — bought and paid for by the USA from the beginning of the canal construction-
    100 years ago – and it a few more years working knowledge of Chinese will be mandatory for traveling in central america LOL
    and how is the insurance company feeling about the extra costs there?

  7. What a shame – just a thought and not sure if it will work for you there, but here in New Zealand, I work for a Member of Parliament. We often get enquiries from people who are having issues with the Immigration Department. The MP’s can appeal to the Minister for special dispensation in certain cases. Again not sure if this will work for you, but might be worth a try perhaps?

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