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Wednesday, August 10, 2005

West Coast Tour

August 9, 2005
Seaquest Washington State Park, Approx 80 nm S of Seattle (46o 25' N 122o 32' W)

We departed San Carlos/Guaymas late Friday afternoon (the 5th) and started our long driving adventure that will take us up and back down the entire west coast of the United States. Our journey began with the shuttle bus from Marina Real to San Carlos. Just as the shuttle was dropping us off at the bus stop a bus pulled up. We thought this was going to be a good omen (not having to wait for the bus) and boarded the rattle trap local bus for the 15 minute ride to Guaymas. On arrival in town we walked the three blocks to the main bus terminal (actually four separate bus companies located on the four corners of an intersection) and went in to inquire about tickets. We chose to take the TAP line, because the pictures of the busses at their ticket counter were fancier then the pictures at the other line's ticket counters. TAP is $10 more expensive than the other lines too, so we figured it had to be better. The only problem is that the TAP line only has three busses that go from Guaymas to Tijuana 6pm, 7pm and 9pm. All the other lines have busses that leave every hour. We were about two hours early for the 6pm bus and didn't mind waiting. Unfortunately the 6pm bus was sold out so we had to buy tickets for the 7pm bus. No problem, we sat back to wait... and wait... and wait... it would have been nice if the terminal were air conditioned, considering it was about 95 degrees and 80% humidity. Oh well, we had a great bus coming, we were sure. We watched 5 or 6 busses leave the other terminals with 'TIJUANA' showing in their destination board and decided that they were all inferior rides, our bus would be much better, if it would only arrive. 7:15 rolled around and the 6pm bus finally arrived. Great, were we going to have to wait until 8:15 for our 7pm bus? No, the ticket attendant assured me that our 7pm bus would arrive shortly and sure enough, it arrived 'right on time' at 7:45. The rest of the 14 hour ride to Tijuana was uneventful, except for having our passports checked by immigration. We're convinced the only reason Mexican's check gringo's papers is because Mexican's are always getting checked when they're in the US.

We arrived in Tijuana early Saturday morning, ready for our next battle with Aduana, otherwise known as Mexican Customs. We want to bring a few things back with us to the boat. We're bringing our truck back to store in Mexico so this is an opportunity to bring things that won't fit in a carry-on bag. We were advised by other cruisers to get a letter from the marina stating that these things were parts for a boat which was on a temporary import permit. Then we wouldn't have to pay duty. The letter, and a list of the items, would need to be stamped by Customs before we left Mexico to prove that we didn't have these things on departure (or some other similarly confusing reason). Then when we return with the things, we show Customs the stamped letter and list and no duty is paid. Wonderful, no? As they say, it sounds good on paper. The problem was that we couldn't find a single Customs official in Tijuana willing to stamp the letter and list. We tried. Very hard. We spent 2 hours and went to 4 different customs officials and no one would get out their stamp pad. Finally we decided to give up and try again when we return (I'll walk back into Mexico via Nogales the day before we drive in and try to get the stamp then, stay tuned for further developments).

Finally we continued our journey by waiting in line for 45 minutes to walk through the boarder crossing. This wasn't as bad as it could have been, the line was reported to be 90 minutes long that day and it was only because of our search for a Customs agent that we entered the line half way in from the back of the line. We boarded the North bound trolley to meet our friends Ron and Anita who agreed to give us a ride to the airport to pick up our rental car. Not before going to lunch at Point Loma Seafood though. We can't come through San Diego and pass that up! After lunch Anita and Ron drove us to the rental car office to pick up our next ride, a Pontiac Sunfire which we'd be driving to Portland, OR over the next few days.

To Be Continued...

John and Linda