September has been and gone and El Lobo is still sitting on dry land in Chaguaramas - but - most of the work is almost finished and it shouldn’t be very long before we are back in the water. Hooray!
We have not been on any trips out this month. We went for an early morning walk locally with Mike and Debbie from Caramba and Jim and Pam from Delicado. Even though we didn’t walk very far and we set off before 9.00 am it was very hot and it was good to get back to the yard. Pat had been painting out the lazarette the previous day and the fumes from the paint combined with the affects of the hot sun that morning made her feel a bit woozy for a couple of days!
We also had a day’s sail with Mike on Caramba after Debbie left for Canada this week. Mike is following her home soon and he suggested the three of us went over to Chacachacare again for a swim. It hadn’t rained for over a week, unusually, and the day started out the same but, you guessed it, the heavens opened just as we got there and Mike (Caramba Mike) got very wet as we anchored! After an early lunch and a game of crib we managed to get a swim after the rain. The water is not that good for snorkelling in Trinidad, too much silt from the Orinoco delta in Venezuela, but Pat spotted a very large ray below her at one point. It must have been 5 foot long, She shouted Mike over but had lost sight of it by the time he reached her. She didn’t have her camera with her in any case.
Now to some exciting news. We know some of you think we are on permanent holiday but we can only say that we feel we deserve a break after all this work we have been doing, so we are going to Venezuela next month. We are taking the ferry from here to a small port, Guiria, on the north of the Gulf of Paria and the next day taking a coach to an inland city called Ciudad Bolivar, 330 miles away. After another overnight stay we are flying in a small plane up to the Canaima National Park where we will be spending three days camping, walking and canoeing. This is the location of the world’s highest waterfall. Angel Falls. We can’t wait! There are 12 of us going. We are due to leave on the 7th October and coming back on the 14th so, hopefully, there will be lots of good pictures on next months log page.
One other incident of note to report! We have been in Trinidad and Tobago for just over 6 months now and had our initial 3 month stay extended to 6 months back in June. We arrived in Tobago the 26th March, had our visit extended for three months on the 23rd June, and thought we were all right until the 23rd September. Wrong! When we presented ourselves that morning to immigration with passports, entry papers and duly signed letter from our boatyard, we were greeted frostily by a female officer who gravely informed us that our stamps had run out the previous day, the 22nd, and that we were in the country illegally and that we would have to leave forthwith! We tried to explain that we thought we had until the 23rd and in any case, our boat was still out of the water.
‘That is your concern. You are illegal immigrants. You must leave your boat here and go’.
‘But we are going on the 7th of October, to Venezuela. Look, here are our ferry tickets. Surely you could extend our stay for a week and a half’
‘No. You can not stay’.
‘We are terribly sorry officer. We have been trying to arrange this trip to Venezuela for a couple of weeks now and we’ve only just sorted out the dates’.
‘In any case, you should have made an appointment a week ago. We only work on the appointment system’.
‘We can only say we are sorry. What will happen now’?
‘You are still illegal. I will have to see my supervisor. Come back after lunch’.
All of this conversation went on without a smile on the officers face. We have heard horror stories from other people about visitor extensions and Pat was sure we were going to be clamped in jail, sent to the airport to get on a plane somewhere or at least be fined a hefty amount in $US.
Suitably chastened we retired to one of the more expensive restaurants in the complex and ordered beer battered fish and chips. It felt like we were eating the last meal of the condemned man!
We returned with trepidation at 1.00 pm and were told to sit and wait while other people were attended to then we were waved forward.
‘We have decided to be lenient with you. We will extend your visit until the 7th then you must leave’.
‘We will, we will. We are so sorry’!!!
She was actually smiling by this time and kindly explained the procedure and forms to fill in for leaving and returning to the boat. She must have had something nice for lunch!
So there we are. We are legal again and when we return from Venezuela we will start at the beginning with another 3 months stay if we want. Strange isn’t it? We suppose we have been spoilt in Europe where now we can travel between countries without restriction and we forget other countries are not the same. Lesson learned though. Check your dates and make an appointment!!
So that’s it for this month. There will hopefully be a lot more to tell you about after our return from Angel Falls, the highest waterfall in the world! We are going to work harder than ever for the next week to try and get as much done on the boat as we can.
See you next month.
Just a few photos below.