We started with a wonderful breakfast in our favorite Tulum breakfast eatery, Azafran. Despite some mosquitoes in the garden, we had a delicious meal, excellent service, and some of the best coffee that we had on our entire trip. This is the only place we got whole-wheat bread in Mexico, and the freshly squeezed OJ was great too. We can't recommend this place enough if you are in Tulum. Barry ordered the same loaded omelet as before, and I tried the fruit crepes. Delish!
We tried to explain that we had tried to get reservations for a particular return date when we bought our tickets but were told that we couldn't do that, and that we had a dog boarding in San Pedro whom we needed to pick up. We were never advised back in San Pedro to confirm our return reservations a day ahead, probably because there were many fewer people traveling back in early December. The attendant put us on the waiting list but said that they could not guarantee us seats as the boat was full. She had a long list of travelers with confirmed reservations, but we could see that not all of them had been marked off as having checked in. We had some hope since we weren't turned away immediately.
While we sat and waited, more and more confirmed passengers checked in. Several other people without reservations came in trying to get on the boat, same as us. One party of four was turned away because they were even lower down the "waiting" list than us. A couple of other young men traveling alone were hanging around like we were, hoping for a spot to open up. We had purposely spent most of our pesos other than those needed for the $300 MX (approximately $24 US) per-person exit fee. If we'd had to stay in Chetumal, we'd have to find an ATM for more cash, get a hotel, contact Pampered Paws online (our cellphone did not work in Mexico), lose the money we'd prepaid for the tickets, and try to get tickets on the other boat the following day. NOT something we wanted to contemplate. Another far-fetched alternative would have been to take a bus or taxi to the Belize border, check out of Mexico and into Belize there, take another taxi to the Corozal airstrip, and try to catch the last flight of the day back to San Pedro on Tropic Air. This possibility seemed fraught with problems because we were already tight on time, and there was no guarantee of any available seats on the plane without reservations, and no easy way to call without trying to locate and figure out a payphone. Yes, I was inwardly panicking!
The clock kept ticking, and we kept watching the passenger list on the attendant's desk. As it got closer and closer to 3pm, there were still a few people with reserved slots who had not checked in. Finally, it became apparent that they weren't going to make it in time, so the attendant crossed out their names and put ours on the manifest in their places. One other single man made it on the same way. We breathed the hugest sighs of relief!
We still had to make it through Immigration, though this time the officer was very pleasant and friendly to us. (This was the same man who'd been so rude when we'd come to Chetumal for the day and had been forced to pay the exit fee even though it is not required for visits of less than seven days.)
With the long delay to get everyone and their luggage onboard, the boat was over thirty minutes late leaving the dock. When we arrived in San Pedro, we'd have to go through customs and immigration, then run (literally) over to Pampered Paws to pick Paisley up before they closed at 6 pm. It was going to be a tight connection, to say the least.
We were sweating it out on the boat as it seemed like the longest ride of our lives. The minutes kept ticking by, and when we finally pulled into the dock in San Pedro, we had less than 45 minutes before Pampered Paws closed. I immediately called Kathy there and told her that we would be cutting it very close but were on our way to pick up Paisley just as soon as we made it through the lines. She assured me they would be waiting for us, but I didn't want anyone to have to work late, so we hustled as close as we could to the front of the line for immigration.
If we'd been at the back of the line, I don't think we would have made it, but we were lucky enough to make it through pretty quickly, and the custom's official didn't choose us for a luggage search; probably because we were carrying such small bags compared to a lot of folks. She was in a jovial mood, and that set us at ease.
Fortunately, Pampered Paws is not too far from the Water Jets building, so we were able to make it with a few minutes to spare. Paisley was beside herself with joy and jumped up and down at least a hundred times behind the glass door when she saw us. She always has a great time at Pampered Paws, and we feel totally comfortable leaving her there when we travel. And they're so nice about keeping her a little longer if we decide to extend our trip by a day or two, as we have done a couple of times now.
All that was left to do now was to catch a taxi back to our condo, never a difficult thing to do in San Pedro. We were so thankful that we made it home and did not have to scramble for another day in Chetumal. And what do you know, the world didn't end the next day after all!