Getting to Know Huatulco — And Battling Bureaucracy

Marina Chahue, Huatulco

It’s been an interesting week getting to know the marina, the neighbors, the town of La Crucecita, and the reasons for Mexico’s reputation as the “land of mañana,”

Marina Chahue is fairly new and modern, with limited cruiser amenities, lots of surge, and a staff who, though friendly, have limited facility with English. Patricia in the office has been most helpful, understanding my poor Spanish and responding with her equivalent English. I think we’ll get along fine. Our challenge is in securing Emma Jo in the slip, fendering her against the almost constant surge, and making sure we have enough lines out. Many of the boats here seem to stretch their lines across adjacent slips to dampen the movement, and when our delightful neighbors have gone, we’ll do the same. We’re about a mile or so from town, so weather permitting we can walk to grocery stores, restaurants, and beaches.

Companera Leaving Marina Chahue

The next door neighbors left this morning. Doug and Jill, aboard Compañera from Cordova, Alaska, are some of the kindest, most interesting folks we’ve met so far. They are rowers, with a Capital R, having rowed the Inside Passage from Seattle to Skagway, Alaska’s North Slope, the coast of Labrador, from Gothenburg to Kirkeness in Norway, and completely around Spitsbergen. Jill’s book, Rowing to Latitudes, we will wholeheartedly plug for the ripping good stories it contains and the demonstration of will and skill the two of them embody.

Both of them are also world-renowned avalanche experts, and ran their own consulting firm out of Anchorage for many years. Their boat, Compañera, is a one-of-a-kind Halifax trawler built for heavy weather, and they’re on a journey to Chile. We spent a few evenings together this week, exploring La Crucecita for dinner and sitting on the fly bridge in the cool of the evening. After just a few days, we felt like we’ve known them all our lives. We’ll miss them!

La Crucecita, the main town of the Bays of Huatulco, is lovely, well-organized, and secure. There is a lot of development and investment ongoing here, with hotels, resorts, condominiums and the like sprouting up almost monthly. The town is laid back, and contains the best grocery store we’ve had since we left Florida…as well as ice cream shops, espresso bars, and shops. They even have a sign on the main square:

There are several beaches in the neighborhood, with opportunities to dive and snorkel as well as just sit around in the shade with a Pacifico or a Corona. I think I’ll be fine here on my own, the challenge being NOT to put on weight while Ole’s gone!

And as for the “land of mañana” reputation: I’ve spent the better part of the week trying to hunt down a wireless modem for the computer. While there is free wi-fi at the marina, the signal doesn’t reach our slip and seems to disappear at night when the staff turns out the lights. All cruiser advice is for us to purchase a “stick” from TelCel that enables us to have internet wherever we can get cell signals – much of the Mexican coast.

Sounded great, so on Tuesday, I asked Patricia at the marina office where I might find one. She directed me to the TelCel office in Plaza Madero, the mall in town, where I was told they’d have a modem available “mañana en la tarde” (tomorrow, in the afternoon). Fine. Ole and I went grocery shopping, stopping at a TelCel kiosk in the grocery store to try to buy a local cell phone. “She’s on break,” they said – “back at 4:30 or 5:00 this afternoon.”

Wednesday afternoon, I went back to TelCel at Plaza Madero – “sorry,” she said, “should be in tomorrow.” Thursday, on an evening in town, I stopped back in only to find that she expected to have them Saturday morning. Okay – there are other TelCel vendors in town. I stopped at a promising office, with a smiling woman inside, who cheerfully told me to come back “tomorrow at 6-ish.” Friday morning, I had Patricia in the office call yet another TelCel office, who told her yes, they had the modems in stock and I could purchase one today.

I walked 20 minutes to the office, confirmed that yes, they had modems in stock, only to find they did not take credit cards,  So it was off to the ATM and back. When I returned, the young man asked me if I’d brought my computer with me; explained to me how the monthly plan worked; and when I pulled out my wallet to buy the modem he assured me he had in stock, he told me it would be available “tomorrow.”

So today, Saturday, I went back to the smiling woman, and was able to actually purchase and walk away with the modem and instructions. “But,” she said, “there’s nobody working at TelCel over the weekend, so although you have the modem, you won’t be able to get a signal confirmed until Monday at the latest.” “Great. At least I’m a step further down the road,” I thought. So I unpacked the modem and put the SIM card in my phone to register it, as instructed, only to find that I can’t do that. So it’s going to be Monday, maybe.

Meaning this little adventure in technology has taken a week – might take me ten minutes at Costco in Silverdale. Ah, Mexico.

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