Oct 8, 2009
|10/01/2009-THURS/Cartegena, Columbia. Villa Colonial hotel. Made contact with shipping agent to meet with them the next day.
Went to a hostel that I had contacted before we left from Panama and they never heard of us and had no rooms available. So they called another hotel that had rooms and Roberto came and took our baggage and walked us to our home for the next week, Villa Colonial hote. A very nice rose in a garden of weeds place. This was run by a family, the Mom and Dad, were there every day running the place. They had two children, Roberto and his sister. Both spoke pretty good English. This later worked out to be a great situation for us. This family was our first introduction to the big hearted Colombian. They were helpful and caring beyond the call of duty. What a difference than what we were lead to expect for Colombia.
We walked around the neighborhood that afternoon and saw some of the sites to see. We had an early dinner at a place just in the middle of it all. Chicken and potatoes and a cold slaw sallad.. It was very good. The owner of the restarante was very curious about where we were from and asked a lot of questions. So in my broken spanish, we told him our story and he was impressed. Went back to our room and sat on the Balconey and watched the sun set. We were finally in South America.
10-02-2009-Friday-Connected with John and Sharon, who had to pay for a more expensive hotel because of the room needed for a dog and cat, the Kids.
We made a call to John on the internet, through skype. And made arrangements to meet them and then take a taxi over to the Shipping agent. We had met two other couples that were shipping with the same company John had made contact with them to go to the Agent together. So we four males went to the Agency to make arrangements to get our cars.. Sad news, the ship that we were supposed to be on was broken, so they said and hadn't left Colon yet. So this was a shock but when you are traveling any thing can happen and you just have to roll with it.. This was hard to get use to but necessary for us to maintain our sanity. We asked when was it expected to arrive in Cartegena, the response was they didn't know and would find out Saturday.
10-03-2009-Sat-Nino, one of the other container partners, went down to the agency and found out that the out containers were switched to another boat and not expected to arrive in port until the following week. We were disappointed, but what could we do. We decided to take a couple of day trip up to the Northern part of Columbia,near a huge Volcano. So, John and Sharon would have to stay in Cartegena, with the animals. They were ok with us going, even though we really didn't know when the boat would actually come in. In the mean time we decided to take a city tour. We the tour,in a funky old party bus with a bunch of the locals. It was fun and we saw some of the sites in Cartegena that are the old standbys to see. The walls around the old city, the Hilton Hotel in Boca Grande, the Sea Port, an old Monestery which overlooked the entire city, and finally the old Fort San Felipe. I guess the one thing that was the most disappointing bit of information was that the fort in Romancing the stone, that I thought was in Cartegena was actually in Puerto Rico. I just hate what Hollywood does to historical information.
After the city tour, we made arrangements for transportation to Santa Marta at a Hostel in the mountains above it called, San Souci. I couldn't make contact with the hostel but did make arrangments for transportation. It would be a four hour trip, in an air conditioned sprinter.
That evening we went out with John and Sharon for a great dinner just off one of the wonderful little park squares a short way from their hotel.
10/04-2009-Sun-Spent the day traveling to the Santa Marta area.
The hotel Villa Colonial would store all of the extra stuff for us while we were out of town, for nothing. The owners and staff at the hotel were very helpful, which was what we found to be true of most Colombians not just hotel people. We then went to breakfast at our favorite crepes restarante, the Black Cat. We had gotten to know the owner rather well from the past few days. She was the one that suggested the San Souci hostel.
The bus picked us up from the hotel around noon and we traveled along the north coast of Colombia. This was along the Carribean and was quite hot and dry. It was mostly cattle ranches in the grasslands. In the mangrove lagoons were some of the most meger living condtions that we had seen up to this point on the whole trip. The trash, mud and tin home were rather a shock to see when we had gotten a different impression of Colombia from the Cartegena digs. We passed through a large city of Barranqillo, then to Santa Marta. We got dropped off at a corner and caught a cab to Minca, the city in the hills on the side of the Volcano. Well, the cab driver didn't really know where he was going and ended up charging more than we agreed upon after we got to the Hostel San Souci.
We lucked out and they had only one room left. Chris, the owner offered us a pizza dinner and said he could make breakfast for us. The cost was minimal. This was an old coffee finca and was quite overgrown. We were at about 2500 ft, still warm but the evenings were cool, haaaaaa.
10/05/2009-MON-spent the day birding/walking around the area/eating lunch along the Minca river, having our own dinner of home made tamales.
Woke up earlier than normal and saw some terrific birds. Mountain Motmots, steely-vented humming bird, some beautiful tanagers to name a few. We walked downtown, very small place and found a restarante next to the river. Had a terrific lunch for cheap. Karl accidentally droped the Camera in the water,oooooh no. So no more pictures of the Walk that afternoon and the beautiful area around the old finca and city.
10/06/2009-TUES-travel day back to Cartegena. Caught a taxi back to Santa Marta for 5.00 and then caught the nice bus back to Cartegena. When we got back we got word that the boat with our cars was in port and John had begun the process by paying the first of many fees we had to make. This fee was a deposit on the Container that we were told would be refunded to us after the contaier was inspected. Had a great little reunion with the Villa Colonial hotel staff. Then another wonderful dinner out on the town.
10/07/2009-WED-spent all day generating paperwork and waiting. Then finding out that container was at a different port.. John and I and Nino and Jason went to the office of King Ocean, our shipping company at 8:00 am. We waited for documents for each of our containers and autos, for over an hour and a half. Then we had to take these documents to the DIAN to get permission from the Columbian government for importing our cars and organize an inspection of our cars. Well, this took over an hour. We were assigned an inspector and a time to inspect the cars, 3:00 that afternoon. Then the agent asked us where the containers were, we didn't know. So they called King-ocean and found out that they were at the furthest port away. So we hightailed it, all five of us( Jason's girlfriend Sharon came along), to the Port. There we arrived at just before a two hour lunch, oh dear. After two hour lunch in the port Cafeteria. We went back to the Port office to fill out 5 pages of information. Then this information was transferred onto the port's system. So we waited for almost three hours, the secretary then came to us and told us that the ship Bogata wasn't scheduled to be here until October 10th, What? Well after a few minutes of absolute horror, we found that the ship was in Cartegena, but at a different port. So now all that paperwork had to be transferred to another port, and we had to get there before closing time. We all got a taxi and hustled to the other port to find that it was closed for the night. Nino, with some pleading and fast talking, was able to get the port agent that the secretary told us to find. He let us in and explained that we would have to come back tomarrow to finish up the work. The appointment that we had set for that afternoon had to be canceled and we then had to reschedule that at the Customs, DIAN office. So there we were all day in the wrong port, with an incorrect customs inspection appointment, and no cars. We did find before we left that our containers were there and we would get our cars on Thursday. We were upset needless to say at the King-Ocean office for the incorrect port of entry information. Back to let the girls know of what happened and our to dinner to unwind. Well, at least we know that our cars are here, we hope.
10/08/2009-THURS-back to correct port more paperwork back to DIAN(Colombian Customs and Tax agency)
This was another day of hurry up and wait. We arrived at the port office at 8:00am. The port agent showed up at around 8:30am. We waited for over 2 hours for all the previous paperwork to be transferred. Then we had to go back to the customs office to get that paperwork because the previously schedualed customs inspector took it all. That took another hour and a half to finally straighten out and get another inspection time at the new port schedualed. By then it was Noon, yes everything shut down for two hours. So we had another lunch at a so so port cafeteria and waited. At two we waited for the port agent to show up. He finally did and then we had to pay another port fee and customs for $150.00 each. Then we had to get new passed made to enter the port. With the new passes, mine didn't work and that took 10 minutes to straighten out, we entered the port and went to Bodega 1. We waited there for at least 45 minutes. Then we were taken to our containers, within 20 minutes from the time we arrived at our containers, the cars were removed and the customs inspector was finished with the inspection. That was about 3:45pm. We drove the cars to another inspection area and the port then inspected the cars. After that we went back to Bodega 1 and waited another hour for the final port release to be completed. We then were told to go back to the Port agent to get our paperwork. We waited for the agent who dissapeared for over an hourand a half. He finally showed up with our paperwork. We then went back to Bodega 1 and another wait for exit papers... Finally at 7:45pm we drove our cars out of the Port.
I had scoped out a Parqudero, to store Paco close to the hotel. We drove to it and finally with our cars were just as happy as one could be. We were finally on the road again....
Dinner out with a celebratory flair.. I slept well that evening.
10/09/2009-FRI-spent 2 hours at the King-Ocean agency waiting for our container to get cleared and get our deposit back. Left Cartegena for trip though Colombia.
More misinformation. We went to the King-Ocean office to get our deposit back, it was just under $150.00 each. We waited for over two hours and decided to get it when we returned to Cartegena to ship North. The Container was moved to the original port in Cartegena that we first spent time at. It had to be transferred, then inspected. So really no one new where the containers were. It seemed like they would tell us anything to keep us happy. So we wanted to get on the road so made arrangements to get the refund on our return. Nino and Jason, decided to stay and wait for the money. We later found out that they did finally get the money later that afternoon. What a waste of time it all seemed to be. John and I decided that on our return to Cartegena, that we would not use King-Ocean again. We would find the company that the other couple used. They spent just three days for the whole process, one day in Panama, second day container was in transit, the third day they picked up the car in Cartegena. The whole process took us over nine days.
We left around 11:00 am south of Cartegena toward Medilin. Made it that evening to Shogun and Stayed in a Motor lodge. That evening we went to a restarante and had some delicious steak.