Sunday, February 7, 2010

February 7, 2010 - Anchorage, Alaska


We got “home” to our slip in La Paz and had a week to get ready to come “home” to Anchorage on February 3rd. Earl had a bunch of boat jobs. We are getting very spoiled by the inexpensive boat washes that are now the first thing that happens after we tie up. We have a regular crew, Fito and Alfredo, who do a beautiful job on Serenity’s exterior. I got to work on the interior and the laundry, which needed some attention. Earl hired a diver to clean the bottom of the boat, which was beginning to look like a pasture, and to check the zincs. Again, it was a wonderful job for not a great deal of money. We had been told that the conditions in the CostaBaja marina ate up zincs, but even so we were surprised that we needed to replace so many after having them all in new condition in August. The diver was wonderful. He took underwater photos of the zincs so that he could discuss them with Earl. He also spoke wonderful English, which is not surprising since he had recently returned to Mexico after spending nine years in Homer, Alaska.

In preparation for leaving, we needed to get a physical for Daisy. Mexican law requires that a dog have a physical within 5 days of flying, and also requires rabies shots every year, instead of every three years that we have here, and deworming every 6 months. Daisy was of course found to be very healthy and was also pronounced a dream patient by the vet. The strict requirements for flying are in contrast with the complete absence of any requirements for bringing in a dog by car or boat. Also, interestingly, the enforcement of the Mexican regulations is pretty lax. No one at the La Paz airport even asked. A fellow cruiser, who commutes on a regular basis between LA and La Paz, told us that he never worries about the physical for his dog. Once in a while he gets nailed at the airport, and the vet simply drives right out and takes care of the necessary at the airport for $40.

Packing up was quite a challenge. We really did not have much in the way of clothing to worry about, since obviously our La Paz wardrobe was not needed in Alaska. However, I have spent a good deal of time shopping on our trip. We had two Huichol paintings, measuring 22*22, a suitcase full of pottery and miscellaneous stuff, and a carryon bag with three large pottery bowls. The security process in La Paz is essentially a jobs program. First everything is searched by hand in a non-secure area in front of the ticket counter. Then, all the hand carried items are checked again on entering the secured gate area, this time by machine. Finally, before you board the plane, everything is checked by hand at the gate. The paintings were a problem since we really did not want to undo the beautiful job of packing that had been done in La Cruz. At the ticket counter, the package was run through a very large X-ray machine (which is apparently not used on a regular basis.) Then each time we had to clear an inspection point, the package was hand carried by an attendant back to that same machine and run through again. When we got to LA we picked up our luggage and Daisy and cleared customs. We then had to take our selves and Daisy out of the secured area, giving Daisy a chance to do business, and go to a domestic terminal. Daisy was rechecked in with no formality. We got to go through security again. Once again the paintings were a problem. They did not fit through the scanner so we had to partially unpack, and repack, them. We spent the night in Seattle and at 5 am got to check Daisy in again – this time someone finally asked about the health certificate – and took the paintings through security, where they were once again unpacked and repacked. It was lovely to finally get back to our condo in Anchorage and unpack the painting for the last time. They are now hung over our bed and look magnificent.

Anchorage is looking nice and wintry. The temperature was 2 when we got home at 8:30 in the morning. The snow on our back deck and patio, which is Daisy’s special place, was a couple of feet deep. Daisy refused to go out there until Earl did some shoveling. I think she rather likes Mexico.

In the meantime, I am in heaven making the most of my opportunity to see family. We have not yet had a chance to see Steve and his family, who we saw in Mexico over Christmas, but we have had a good time with both Amelia – now a whole number -, Bella who had saved up five months of conversation and did not stop talking the whole time she was with us, and their parents.

Our visit home will not be long enough. Earl will take Daisy to La Conner on the 18th, and I will follow five days later. Hopefully the extra time will be adequate to prepare a tax return, or at least an extension, since we will not be back for some months. Then on the 27th, we will take off for La Paz and Serenity.