So, the weekend of the 26/27th November was fast approaching and it was becoming obvious that yet again our Customs Broker had failed to obtained Customs clearance for our personal items so they and Juanita were going nowhere. The frustration and feeling of helplessness was getting to us both.
Our Plan B was to tell our Shipping Agent we wanted to switch to another Customs Broker. It could be risky and would be a gamble as to whether it may slow things down even more but we decided to take that risk.
In the meantime we headed 200km north from Veracruz to a quiet little town called Coscomatepec, the daytime temperature was a cool 20c which made a nice change. It was quiet, the air was clean and the views of Pico Orizaba from our bedroom window were pretty special. At 5636 metres it is Mexico’s highest mountain.
On Sunday we explored the town, our visit fell part way through an 11 day festival! Very colourful and this group of dancers were great fun.
Piñatas make for a colourful addition to this greengrocers.
Isn’t there a saying about a butcher’s dog?
Back in Veracruz the following Tuesday we had officially engaged an alternative Customs Broker who were pretty confident that if the process went as they expected Juanita would sail the following weekend. This was what we wanted to hear but having spent the last 3 weeks being told the same by the original broker we couldn’t allow ourselves to believe it could actually happen.
More than once during this episode we had found ourselves on a long jetty at the entrance to the harbour staring longingly at container ships hoping that “one day our container will sail”. Sad I know.
We took one last trip (we hoped) back to the shipper’s yard. We had a bag of mixed screws, nuts, bolts and washers that we had previously been told could not stay in the van. Now we were told they could?, as the bag weighed a kilo or so putting them back was easier than hand carrying. The Broker was confident that Customs were now happy with the paperwork so it was time to fix the final seal on the container.?
At llam on Friday 2/12 we got the call to give us the green light, everything was approved and ready for loading when the ship arrived on Saturday. Big sighs of relief as you can imagine.
So, the process that Customs Broker A could not complete in 3 weeks was completed by Customs Broker B in 3 days! I would say luck had not been on our side. We chose our Agent/Broker based on recommendations of previous users and cost. The unfortunate thing was our shipment coincided with all the members of their staff who dealt with the Customs Department being sacked! So the staff that picked it up really didn’t know how to get stuff done. The final result was we spent a whole lot more time and cash than we’d hoped to. Currently we are trying to get some compensation back for the costs we incurred during the 2 week delay but we’re not particularly hopeful.
For our last weekend in Mexico we headed to Papantla and the El Tajin ruins. In Papantla we watched the Valadores ritual where 5 performers climb a 30 metre pole and dangle from a pole from a rope secured around their waists. It dates back to the Prehispanic period and was originally performed to please the Gods. Now, really just a performance for tourists, mind you the performers really seemed to enjoy it.
The one standing in the middle in playing a flute and a tambourine while the platform rotates. ?
Papantla like most towns we have visited have free live music and entertainment in the square at the weekend, such a great atmosphere.
El Tajin our last Mexican ruin, different from other pyramids we had seen because of the recessed niches which represented pathways to the underworld.
We were checking the cargo ship tracker regularly to make sure our ship didn’t sink on the way to Veracruz!
So with Juanita finally gone we flew out of Veracruz, it was definitely time to move on. We have loved Mexico and would certainly recommend it as an easy country to travel in with loads to see and do.
Next stop Colombia!