Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Squirrel Story

After a fun and action-packed week in Rhode Island we flew back to Seattle where we had just a couple of days to get errands done, repack, and jump on a plane for Tucson. We had a 5:30 flight on Sunday morning. By the time we got to Tucson we were dragging and just wanted to get home to our boat. But, we still had a wait of several hours for our bus and then an 8 hour bus ride ahead of us. All I could think of was a nap. When our bus finally arrived I told the driver that we needed to stop at the border for tourist permits (visas). He said that we did not need the permits for our destination. I insisted that we did need them so he called over another bus official who said that we could get them here in Guaymas, and the bus would not be stopping at the border. With no other option and too tired to argue, we chose to believe that the bus driver knew what he was talking about.

It was a busy week and somehow we totally forgot that we didn’t have our permits to be in Mexico. Planning to leave Guaymas on Friday, we reserved seats on the Copper Canyon tourist train from Los Mochis, bought our bus tickets and made a hotel reservation for our first night. Then, on Thursday, a squirrel decided to visit the boat. We had left the hatch open with the fly screen in. While he was exploring on deck he stepped onto the screen and fell into the main cabin. He snacked on a tomato leaving seeds and peels everywhere and then proceeded to explore all corners of the boat leaving droppings in every room including on our bed. We spent hours emptying every closet, drawer and cupboard trying to find where he might be hiding and eventually we went to sleep wishfully hoping that he might already have left the same way he came in.

Somehow in the middle of the squirrel hunt it suddenly popped into my head that we were without tourist permits and couldn’t travel to another state until we had them. So, first thing the next morning we asked the marina manager for the address of the Migracion. She said that yes we could get the permits in Guaymas, but we would be heavily fined and would not receive the permits for 2 weeks. Better to go back to the border she said. So off we went to find a rental car to drive 4 or 5 hours back to the border for tourist permits. By that time we knew the squirrel was still onboard. Mike had seen him hiding behind the navigation/electrical panel where he couldn’t be reached. AND, now some of our cabin lights weren’t working. Until we caught the squirrel we wouldn’t be able to take our Copper Canyon trip even with the proper travel papers. So we bought 3 rat traps and set them out while we were gone.

A scene from the squirrel hunt.
With such a late start we didn’t get to the border until after dark. Heeding the warnings against driving the Mexican roads at night, we stayed in a hotel and returned to the boat on Saturday morning. None of the traps had been tripped. By this time we had lost the money on our bus tickets and non-refundable hotel reservations. All we could do was take things one step at a time and the first step had to be catching the squirrel. So Mike started taking the boat apart, removing headliners, cupboards, and the built-in medicine chest.

The scene of my squirrel meeting
There wasn’t much that I could do to help so I started cleaning all the corners and crevices that were now exposed. At one point while I was scrubbing a wall in the head (bathroom), the squirrel came running in my direction. Looking for an escape route, he hung upside down just inches from my face. I screamed. He screamed (yes, squirrels scream). And we both ran off in opposite directions.

Eventually I heard Mike talking gently to the squirrel and the squirrel chattering back. The squirrel jumped onto Mike’s feet where Mike was able to throw a towel over him, lift him through the hatch and release him onto the deck. I was on deck watching as the poor little guy shook his head a few times, jumped off the boat and scampered away. I’m glad that he avoided the traps and is now safely at home with his family. Finally we can go to the Copper Canyon.

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