Fill ‘er Up

Customs Inspection-1753Our agent, Sr. Bolivar Pesantes, came highly recommended in at least one cruiser’s post that I’ve read. I second that. He was prompt in attending our boat soon after arrival, marshaled all the paperwork and officials efficiently, and did all this with a minimum of fuss and a maximum of friendliness. Of course, successfully gaining a client as a greaser of the skids of Galapagoan officialdom, he also gets his foot in the door for provision of a myriad of other services.

Heck, even while the inspectors were aboard Mabrouka, he beckoned me up toward the bow for a consult. I’d thought he was going to advise me on what to say or what not to say to the uniforms, or warn me about some shortcoming he’d seen so that I could fix it before we were found out, but no. He pointed to the spinnaker halyard and, half in English, half in Spanish, pointed out that it was worn and I should replace it. Obviously he had line to sell.

So, I should have known what would happen when I asked him about access to fuel and water. He told me to send him an email and I did so that evening. “I need forty gallons of diesel, two-and-a-half of regular gasoline, and fifty-five gallons of water.” At that point I was thinking in my old mainlander’s way that there was a fuel dock some where or a panga would come out to Mabrouka with a big tank and a pump. Not having heard back from him the next morning, we went off for our first land-ward adventures, …the Galapagos National Park Interpretive Center, a short hike, and some snorkeling. When we returned to Mabrouka late that afternoon, we found her bustling with a bewildered crowd of five gallon water bottles that had been cowed into defensive formation atop the house by a disreputable looking gang of grungy, ten gallon jerry jugs filled with diesel and gasoline.

Well, as the ocean-tested captain of the good ship Mabrouka, I was not to be intimidated by an unruly mass of houligans on my boat, so I decidedly ignored them for the night. We also had plans for the next day, touristas that we are, so when I read Bolivar’s email that his son would be by to collect the empties the next morning, I informed him that we’d been gone all day and would be most of the next, so if his son came by late in the afternoon I might at least have empty water bottles for him to take away. At the same time I reminded him that we’d talked of neither price nor delivery schedule for these supplies, hoping he’d get the hint that I thought he’d jumped the gun a bit.

To shorten this story, it took me two days to make and then to take the time to fill up Mabrouka’s tanks. Now the deck is clear of miscreant plastic jugs, but I still have no bill. Bolivar HAS informed me that we don’t get the Galapagoan price of $1.30 per gallon on diesel. We foreigners pay almost two dollars more, but that does include delivery. What can we say, he’s got us by the barnacles.

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