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April 04, 2012
Arriving in Mexico
I first want to thank the team at Trans-Caribe for their stoic effort and support of our return to the mother land. Not only did they help us but they fed us too! Trans-Caribe is the company that runs the ferry service between Cozumel and the mainland. Special thanks to Engineer Chami for being the champion, Captain Fidel for clearing up the details, Captain Teran with his crew and Engineer Roberto for sticking with us, recognizing our difficult situation and treating us like paisanos.
Like us, the crew had arrived in Cuba for maintenance and was intending to stay one month, five months later we had rallied together and departed by the end of March. It was a 40 hour cruise at about 8 knots, the weather was fantastic. Leaving the port in Havana, with its black-diesel looking waters and arriving in Cozumel with its aqua blue sea was a remarkable sight. What a relief, I just about jumped straight in.
We cleared Immigration then met the Customs agent; he told us we had 5 days to get to Cancun to report to Banjercito, which handles the permits for entry. It all seemed simple enough. We figured since it is only one day travel to get from Cozumel to Cancun we would spend the day on the island and I’m glad we did. After departing the vessel and heading into town we headed to the local newspaper. Deya was keen to say something to publically thank the company for helping us leave Cuba. To her chagrin the newspaper/radio/TV reporters showed up with a barrage of unrehearsed questions.
Mentally Deya was not ready for that and it was a flurry of activity. I thought it was fun because I don’t speak Spanish fluently, but it is easy to see how media can get you off guard and the statements you make sometimes come out far different than you intend. For example, “We rent our property” turns into “We rent one of our homes”, this examples works with people’s internal belief that we must have vast resources and lofty homes just lying around versus one tiny rental income amounting to a very tight budget indeed. Of course seeing that in print might make you think every dirt bag in the country is going to try to capitalize on our traveling around by ourselves to extort or otherwise profit from our misfortune. It’s possible I guess, but not probable.
Our stay in Cozumel found us at the end of the island road in Beach House Hostel. This is where we met some fantastic characters with which we instantly became acquainted. While waiting to park our bikes in the garage of this lovely hostel Gee and Richard came out to great us. These local fellows had us over for beer faster than I can crash and we instantly started to get a feel for life in Cozumel. We would end up spending the day with Gee and his family, touring the island and chatting, meeting Rudy (a former national moto racing champion) and his wife, it was a good time and really set the tone for coming back to Mexico.
The following day we had to head out to get to Banjercito near Cancun to get our permits. This would end up taking two days, some frustration and a bit of muscle due to people not using their heads, but at the end of it all we would benefit. While the initial border style dilemma ensued because of our ‘unique’ way of arriving, a gentleman named Fernando approached Deya after she mentioned that we couldn’t mindlessly ride back and forth to Cozumel (about 100 kilometres) because my fork is broken. Fernando came out and offered to help us out.
We ended up making more good friends; of course Fernando has several bikes and clearly loves to ride. He knew where to go and we had El Chino (Moto shop owner) put an appropriate weld over the crack in my fork intending to make sure I make it to Merida some 350 kilometres West. We decided to skip the directness of the toll road because it’s really expensive and take the free road; Fernando would ride out to show us how to get there. Of course it always seems tricky to find the free road as everything routes to the really expensive toll roads.
The ride was long and hot, but the route was very pleasant. I kept checking that the weld was not fracturing and everything seemed okay, except for a slight wobble. I stopped to put the bike on the centre stand and check the front tyre for wobble. It wobbled, I believe it is a bearing that is shot but I won’t be sure until I take it off. It could have something to due with the broken piece but I doubt it. Either way we’ll be hanging out at our friends in Merida until it is fixed before heading back towards Canada.
So far, the Yucatan peninsula is pretty fantastic and I’m really glad to be here.