Friday, October 30, 2009

In Quito, with Immigration problems

Well, we arrived OK in Quito, all our luggage intact, with no extra fees or problems with our 'boat stuff'.

But just when we thought we had the Ecuadorean immigration situation figured out, we got another surprise. When we went thru Immigration in Quito, they only gave us 5 days!!

This is the remainder of the original 90 days we got when we entered in February. They permit 90 days per year on tourist visas. Period. Even though when we left, our passports from the previous entry said we had about 60 days left. That was because we entered into Ecuador once when the computers were down and they gave us a new 90 days. But the Immigration lady would not budge, not even to give us a few extra days because of the holiday.

We think we know how to get a longer stay visa--lots of paperwork, running around, and some money. But the problem is that Ecuador celebrates Halloween with a vengence. Monday and Tuesday are holidays (and Tuesday is the end of our 5 days). So we are scrambling to get to Guayaquil this morning to try to get the renewal process started before our time runs out and we get fined $200 per passport, on top of the visa fee.

We changed our flight from Quito to Guayaquil to leave earlier, so we have more time today to scramble around. Too bad we're lugging 200lbs of luggage with us (still trying to figure out what to do with it while we run around town).

Just the fun of being sn international traveler on a slow trip around the world...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Headed back to Ecuador

Well, the fun is over and it's time to get back to work.

We fly from Miami today for Quito, Ecuador, and then fly to Guayaquil tomorrow. We should be back on Soggy Paws by tomorrow night.

We will be lugging our usual 4 big suitcases full of 'boat parts' and 'specialty food items' back with us. Not just ours, but small critical parts for 2-3 other boaters in Ecuador. (Hopefully we won't have trouble going through Customs).

Then the fun starts... we need to put 8+ coats of epoxy and bottom paint on. Click on our 'Maintenance' link to see all the bottom products we have stored up waiting for us.

Friday, October 23, 2009

In Atlanta for "Thanksgiving"

I woke up this morning wondering where I was.

We are in Brooks, Georgia, outside of Atlanta, at my sister's house for a family "Thanksgiving". We won't be in the U.S. for Thanksgiving this year, so we decided to have it a little early.

The Gray Family 'Nieces' Show Off Their Gifts

Tucker Heintz, the newest addition to the Gray Clan
Waiting for someone to come play with him

I lay in bed and counted up how many different beds we have slept in since we left Soggy Paws in early September... 23!!

3 Countries, 4 States, and 23 different places we have stayed. No wonder I am tired!! I would like to stay longer in the U.S. and relax (and socialize) a little more, but we are looking forward to getting back on board and getting ready to go into the Pacific.

As of yesterday, we are one week from leaving to go back to Ecuador. We rented a car yesterday in Daytona and dropped Dave's car off at my brother's house in Hawthorne, for storage until we come back next fall. We used the rental car to drive on up to Atlanta, and will use it for a week and drop it off with Budget in Miami.

On the rental car... I was amazed at the price difference in renting from different airports. I have always been aware of a minor price difference between different rental offices--where an airport might be charging an airport tax and a local office won't. But after checking rentals from Melbourne, Orlando, Daytona, and Gainesville airports, we found that renting from Daytona airport was MUCH cheaper. We got a nice brand new Pontiac that only had 92 miles on it! Nice for driving.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Eustis High Reunion, Class of 1964

We had an enjoyable weekend in Eustis, going to Dave's 45th high school reunion. It is the first he has attended, so we saw some classmates that he hasn't seen for 45 years. Carole Kelsey Bozeman, who was the main organizer, did a great job of pulling it off. I enjoyed meeting some of the people that Dave has been talking about, and reading the Eustis High newspaper for his graduating class.

Saturday night, we got to watch the #1 Gators beat the #4 LSU Tigers. We've been holding our breath over QB Tim Tebow's health. But in the end, everything turned out OK. Go Gators! It was nice to actually WATCH the game.. instead of 'watching' it on a virtual football field via and ESPN data feed.

And on Sunday, we actually played a full 18 holes of golf in the 94 degree heat, with a couple of Dave's Naval Acadamy buddies. We just about died out there in the heat.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Back in Florida for a few more weeks

I am way behind on my blog. I do plan to add some blog posts on our French Canal Boat trip. But if I wait til I have time for that before I post anything else, I'll be even further behind.

We flew back from Ramstein Air Force Base on Tuesday night on a C-17 cargo plane. It has a big cargo hold with bench seats along each side. We were the only cargo, though. So we were able to lay a blanket on the floor of the cargo hold and get some sleep. But it was cold and noisy--not as nice as the C-5 we flew over on, but still got us there.

While we were waiting in Ramstein, we saw a whole planeload of troops heading for Kuwait, presumably to be deployed in Iraq or Afganistan. Our hearts are with all those fine young people.

On Weds night we stopped off in Jacksonville to visit cruising friend Tom Service, who's anchored out off Julington Creek Marina.

Yesterday, we thankfully pulled into Satellite Beach.

This afternoon we set off again for Eustis, FL, where we will be attending Dave's high school reunion. He is excited about seeing old friends after so long.

On Sunday we have a golf game scheduled with a couple of Dave's Naval Academy friends.

Next week Dave has Jury Duty in Clearwater, but he's going to drop me off in Satellite Beach before he returns to Clearwater to do his civic duty. We are hoping his commitment is short!