Saturday, April 5, 2014

Another Flashback: Barra de Navidad - February 14 - 23, 2014

The Following Is Another Flashback Post -- 

Valentine's Day - Who Loves Ya, Baby?

February 14, the day after we arrived in Barra de Navidad -- as every woman in North America can tell you -- is Valentine's Day.  And yes, they do celebrate this holiday in Mexico - or at least the enterprising merchants of Barra do.  

You may recall (or not) that one of our favorite things about Barra de Navidad is The French Baker. Six mornings a week during the cruising season the French Baker rings a little bell on his delivery panga and announces over VHF Chanel 22 that "Ze French Bay-kair es een ze marina!"  He delivers freshly baked croissants, pastries, pies, breads and quiches dockside -- making the world a better place.  

Ze French Bay-kair

On Valentine's Day he also shamed most of the men in the marina by giving a single rose to each of his female customers. Bryce immediately invited Molly out for a lovely Valentine's Day dinner . . . 

A Rose Is A Rose - No Matter The Giver

Paperwork Tangle Tango Estilo Estados Unidos

Before we enjoyed another of our favorite things about Barra -- the pool at the nearby Wyndam Hotel -- we logged on to Earthclass Mail (our internet mail forwarding service) and found a scan of a letter from the California Public Employee's Retirement System (CalPERS) announcing that we had five weeks to prove that we were married or Bryce would loose his health insurance!  

Background: CalPERS is the entity through which most California government employees and retirees purchase health insurance. Bryce has been insured through the CalPERS system as Molly's dependent for twenty-four years. When we each retired three-ish years ago, we went through the process of confirming that we were still married for a variety of retirement-related purposes. And now they needed us to prove that we were married -- in less than six weeks. 

Now as anyone eligible for a certification of mental competency knows, there's no joy in trying to reason with a government entity that is on a mission to find "waste, fraud and abuse". Nor is there any hope that an exception will be made just because a likely malefactor is living abroad. Besides, all we had to do was upload an electronic scan of our marriage certificate and the first page of our 2013 tax return to the website of CalPERS' efficient third party contractor. How simple is that?  

Our 2013 tax return was easily accessible from our computer.  Sadly, our marriage certificate is in a box in a storage locker almost 1,500 miles north of Barrra de Navdad.  

But wait - a certified copy of our marriage certificate was available through the City and County of San Francisco's third part contractor (it's the season of "privatization" efficiency). They would send us a certified copy of our marriage certificate for only $27.50 USD, and all we had to do was provide them with a notarized statement that we were the parties identified on the marriage certificate. 

Of course they didn't know - or care - that the only place to get a U.S. notarization outside of the U.S. is at a U.S. Consul's office, the nearest of which was in Nuevo Vallarta -- 133 miles behind us.   

As we had only recently been released from embargo in Bahia Banderas we were not anxious to return there for any reason -- and particularly not by sailing into wind, back around Cabo Corrientes, at 5 miles an hour or less. We checked bus schedules and hotel booking websites; we despaired and fumed.   

As we were in the depth of our despair -- telling our sad story to any sailor that made the mistake of asking cheerily how we were doing -- we received an e-mail from friends Pam and Ted Simper (S/v Roundabout II).  Roundabout II was currently docked in La Cruz, but Pam and Ted were coming to Barra on a road trip to drop their daughter and son-in-law at the Manzanillo airport.  Did we have time to get together? 

Sometimes even the crappy things in life work out.

Pam and Ted arrived, we enjoyed dinner with their family and they took the bait when we told them our sad story. They offered us a ride to Banderas Bay in their rental car! We had a great chat in the car on the way Nuevo Vallarta and even stopped for a quick visit and lunch at the Puerto Vallarta botanical gardens.  

Crews of S/v Roundabout II and S/v Abracadabra



And because sailors just can't help themselves, we stopped for a quick trip to Zaragosa Marine - the West Marine of Mexico (aka: "Zar-a-gosa my money" -- thanks for the line, Janet!).  After a night at the Paradise Village Hotel (where they couldn't figure out why we weren't staying a week on the all-inclusive beverage plan . . .) we visited the Consul and got the necessary notarization (only $50 USD - maybe they need a third party contractor). After a bus ride back to Barra, scans of the two-page certification (thanks, S/v Kaylami!) and a fax by the hotel to the second third party contractor -- only three weeks and some $300 from when we started -- we had the proof that we were married. And a great story of government insanity, estilo estados unidos

We uploaded the marriage certificate to the CalPERS third party contractor and - voila - two weeks later we were deemed compliant.  

If anyone knows whether CalPERS actually caught anyone insuring a non-eligible dependent, would you let us know?  Just wondering.  

And The Tally For This Cruising Season IS: 

What are the odds that in any four month period (a) Abracadabra would be embargoed by the Mexican tax authorities for reasons never explained to us; (b) we would have to prove to our health insurance purchasing entity - after 24 years of coverage - that we are married; and (c) our (now former) marine insurance broker would suddenly assert that our policy requires Abracadabra be dry-stored during our summer absence?  

We'd end this post with something cheery such as "all's well that ends well" or "bad things happen in threes" except that . . . we're not ready to tempt fate yet. 

And along the lines of not tempting fate, we're currently unwilling to sail from Huatulco because weather reports call for very high winds across the Gulfo de Tehuantepec for the next week. Rather than continue staring at weather websites on an hourly basis, tomorrow we're off for a few days in Oaxaca to enjoy the unique culture of one of Mexico's colonial jewels.   

We'll be on our way to Chiapas soon - we're sure. 

1 comment:

  1. hi you two... Great blog as always... Glad to hear your insurance worked out and you re safe and sound, if not a little frustrated. Take good care and enjoy your journey.... CJ and Kathy