It's March 21, 2020. It's early afternoon. We receive a message from the Chapo that it is almost on the approach to Aruba and will arrive sometime in the night. Great, I think to myself, on the night of Sunday entry will definitely not be easier. The sun is slowly setting.
We expect an arrival sometime between midnight and three in the morning and turn on the radio. After a few hours we can hear the coast guard addressing an unknown sailboat. We can't hear an answer at first, but the unknown sailboat can only be the Chapo. The pulse goes up. Adrenaline is spreading.
My phone rings at 0:30 on March 22nd. Charly is on the other end of the line. They are in front of the entrance to Barcadera, the clearing port, but between them and the jetty is a border police boat. I immediately try to activate the contact to the honorary consul, who made sure that the Chapo can enter the country. Unfortunately, the night shift on the police boat knows nothing about it. While I'm still trying to make a phone call, the Chapo is being expelled from Aruban territorial waters. They should come back the next morning when customs and immigration have opened. I go back to bed, a good night's sleep is out of the question. Our friends have been on the Atlantic since February 27th, and now they have to go to a port.
I am woken up at half past eight in the morning. The honorary consul, Ms. Rodriguez, calls back. She apologizes for being already in bed. A blaring child can be heard in the background.
Ms. Rodriguez provides me with phone numbers that the Chapo can pass on to the border police. Over the next two hours, it is slowly clearing that this boat can cross the border and enter. We watch the coast guard watch a speedboat launch. It disappears at high speed towards the last and known position of the Chapo.
Ms. Rodriguez would like me to have the ID numbers of those arriving. Jutta sends it to me by SMS. But that's not enough, now photos of the ID cards should be added. The Chapos cannot deliver that, the data volume is not enough. German cell phone contracts are a horror. Somehow it has to be done without, Ms. Rodriguez understands and cares.
My phone rings again, on the other end of the line is Aruba's Secretary of Foreign Affairs. I can once again tell the whole story from the start in Cape Verde to the arrival in Aruba. Two Danish hitchhikers may have driven local diplomacy crazy about Copenhagen, but they couldn't do much. I am asked about the plans. The Danes booked a return flight to Amsterdam on March 22nd. The Germans want to spend the hurricane season in the harbor. So far, so clear.
It is 12:30 p.m. I am informed by the Chapo that they are now being escorted to the Barcadera clearing port by the Coast Guard. We are relieved. It can't be long now.
The procedure for clearing in is different from ours. This time, fever is still measured in the travelers. Otherwise it only takes a good hour, then we are informed that everything is OK and that they are now coming over to Oranjestad. The Danes are now traveling with the police taxi towards the airport.
Jens and I go to the beach. We take the cameras with us and want to take pictures of the approach to Chapo. The sun is laughing at the water, which glows in all possible shades of blue. Everything is painted.
We celebrate the entrance to the port at around 2 p.m. with shouting, waving, singing, hopping and dancing. The mood is exuberant. When parking, Charly first touches a wooden bollard that flies away in fragments. That's the way it is when you haven't tied to the dock for weeks. In the second attempt, we can then guide the Chapo to the petrol station and tie it down.
Unfortunately, the three are not allowed to board, they are still in quarantine. We hope that it will be lifted soon. We are also not allowed on board.
So Jens and I sit on the jetty. We brought fresh beer from the Sissi fridge. We celebrate the arrival. Hopefully the quarantine will be lifted soon. After all, the three had been with each other since the end of February.
Jutta, Ute and Charly lose their tension with every beer. We hear loud music. There are always security guards who find the new sailboat suspicious in the harbor. We can sort it out. All is well. We put a large can of goulash on board so that they can finally have a freshly cooked meal.
After dinner, the party is over quickly. All three chapos are tired. In any case, they have earned their sleep. We also go to bed early. The adrenaline is now used up. We are tired.
At this point, once again, many thanks to Mrs. Rodriguez. She really worked hard and did more for the Chapo than you might expect.