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Explanation later. May be a while but eventually there will be an explanation.
As we normally camp and there are no campsites in San Isidro we found a couple of hotels that would let us park and sleep in the car park in our Land Rover. Unfortunately the first one would give no good pricing.
The second however gave Bikers (after a bit of negotiation) a non-aircon room a rate of $24usd and an aircon room of $27usd. This compares to over $40usd on the standard rate. Its nearly the cheapest place in town now and its GOOD ! My buddy stayed in a room and we slept in the car park (camping in the car park is $8usd). The car park has no height or width restriction worth mentioning. Even BIG trucks would get in. The restaurant is good, the location is good, the beds are good and its also got a pool and of course Wi-Fi !
San Isidro de Perez Zeledon
HOTEL ZIMA (N 9 22.669 W 83 42.173)
Ubicado: 200meters north of McDonalds and 100 meters East.
Its just of the main road but in a really quiet location. Its really near town and all the restaurants. Its perfect for a stop if you need one in San Isidro.
You can all thank me later......also thank the owner.
IVSSUK run by Overland Sphere and the Overlanding Association.
Shipping across the Darian Gap and Globally RoRo or Container.
As promised and as I've been hounded by the South Africans.....hehe.
Shipping agent in Colombia, Cartagena. They don't speak ANY English at all so expect a strange experience. If you go to the office expect to be there a while. Take your Laptop and use their Wi-Fi for Google translate. They were OK although they loaded the car too early. They said the shipping company demanded this but I suggest you make sure they do it as late as possible. They also booked the boat incorrectly sending the container on a Door to Door which the agent in Panama corrected. The agent in Panama was superb !!!! As they do not speak English the flow of info is difficult and this is what caused most of the problems. Eventually everything sorted itself out. If you speak Spanish it would be so much easier. They also seemed to stall every time we were not in the office. When we were in the office things seem to happen.
We stayed in Boccagrande, Hotel Puerta del Oeste (N 10 23' 53" W 75 33' 33") which is a nice area during the negotiations the taxi to the office was 8,000col . The Hotel is good and OK price 70,000col. They have parking outside for a smallish overland truck or Land Rover or Cruiser. They did ask for 80,000 at first but we went back on got it for 70,000. The rooms at the front are noisy. Try second floor back. They have larger rooms we think but do not know the price if you are a family. Its near to the beach, bars and tourist stuff. Taxi to airport is 15,000 and Taxi to town is 6,000. If you have time to kill get them book you on a tour to Totumo Mud baths. Their rate is OK and the trip is worthwhile at 50,000 each and includes lunch. Photos are 3000 for them to keep your camera and they wash you off after in the lake for 3000 including your swimming costume.
Back to the shipping.
You need to get a letter notarized to give the agent some permission. This was easy and cheap. They took us to the notary. N 10 23.613 W 75 31.301 Door on left number 104. I advise Emailing Martha copies of all your documents, Passports, Vehicle Registration, Driving license as they need hundreds of copies !!!
Loading took ALL day. They only let the driver in the port. The narcotics inspection is a pain. They expect ALL stuff unloaded from the car. Take some water, take a lot or water. There is small restaurant on site but I would not advise waiting there unless you really want to. If the driver can do this on his own then only they should go to the port. Martha will be there. They will make you leave the car in the Ro-Ro area until they are ready for loading. They do have ramps and if you ask (which I would) get them to use wooden blocks under the wheels as well as strapping. There also seemed to be some issue entering the port which I never figured out. Maybe they didn't even want the driver in there. We were told you need travel insurance inc 3rd party liability to get in.
N 10 24.572
W 75 31.928
Ms. Martha Gonzalez Nadaff
RJ logistica & Operaciones
3ra. Avenida – Calle 28 Cra. 26 – 47 Of. 104 Cartagena
(To the Right of Citibank on the first floor, top of the stairs go right and it is on your right look for number 2628)
Receiving agent in Panama. They contacted us via Email. Martha in Colombia arranged the receiving agent. They arranged for the Hotel in Colon and the Taxi from the airport $80 (The Taxi Guy was waiting at gate in airport and we paid him directly). The hotel was not great and in a BAD area. It only has Wi-Fi in reception and TV isn't great. There is a McDonalds and Bank in walking distance and the 99 Supermarket is only $1.50 taxi ride where there is a small Subway/shops/local cafe.
Do not go to Panama until the car has left. You know my story on the return flights rule. The airline will not let you board and they won't let you use a bus ticket. The rule says you MUST have an Airline ticket. We got Kelly in the airport in Cartagena to do a dummy reservation which we arranged before the day we flew. we went to the airport 15,000col to set this up a couple of days before although they only did it on the day so we went 3 hours early. The Airport has Wi-Fi for free but is small.
Basically Ever Logistics did everything via Email and although Boris came to the hotel on the unloading day we never needed to go to meet them. He collected us on the unloading day and we paid him cash. He gave us a receipt. They had no ramp to unload the car from the container. We used our waffle boards. The EverGreen container depot is poorly equipped. Make sure you can get the car out. They do have bolt cutters and Boris sends a guy with you to do all the running round. We just stood around for ages waiting for the box. Unloading was difficult without a ramp. They let both myself and Julie in no problem. Took 4 hours in total.
Ever Logistics, INC
Boris G. Jaramillo
COSTS Colombia (Approx £495 or $750usd)
Handling charge for agent in Colombia
COSTS Panama (£735 or $1,147usd)
included 1 month compulsory insurance.
Thanks to Don for picking up the English strays....
His house is a bit nice.....more accurately the garden and pool. We stayed in the pool house.
The views over to the Pacific are nothing but breathtaking. In fact on Simien Mountains in Ethiopia comes near.
So here he is. The little ffing copper (quite literally little) who decided to take my passport (copy) and license (fake) off to his little world for some reason.
Actually I think the "reason" was we'd misunderstood their limp wrist attempt to wave us down. Now we all now what a stop hand signal is. Its a raised flat palm shown to you. No mistaking that. This was more of a hand wiggle down by his waste. By the time they realized I wasn't stopping and decided to make some more frantic gestures I'd overshot them. More likely by the time they'd realized I was a good target for money/entertainment, anyhow I'd gone 30 meters past them as I was traveling at 80kmph. So he had to walk to our car. He decided we must get out,,,that's a first for us! He wanted the passport to which I said "no you're not immigration, you can have my license you are transito". It turns out the proper immigration and aduanas (customs) was 30km down the road and they were given the proper documents as they should be. Anyhow, we give him a copy of the passports and a fake license and he just walked off and started typing something on his phone. He could have been playing Angry Birds for all I knew. When I went up to him a few minutes later he was still fiddling with the phone. He completely ignore me. He didn't even look up when I asked him what he was doing. At that point I lost it and said "you can keep them, we VAMOS!" so I walked back to the car got in and drove off. Normally they stay near the car and right at the window. This guy had been video'd before I'm sure so he stayed well clear. I got the full audio and some video of the entire thing so if the Police Transito Panama (http://www.policia.gob.pa/) want to find this post and investigate what this little shit was up to I'd be very happy. I wish they had an email to send it to.
You cannot cross into Costa Rica from Panama at Rio Sereno near Volcan. They no longer sell insurance so will not let you into Costa Rica. Its cost us 3 hours at the border checking out and back into Panama. Don't go there. Go to the far north crossing (road is good by all acounts) or the Paso Canoas. They sell insurance at both.
We have the car which was a bit of a nightmare. The depot has no ramp to get the car out the container. We used out waffle boards which luckily didn't break off on the container as the mount point was small and maybe only 1 inch wide.
The Agent (Ever Logistics) at this end were excellent and everything was arranged. Taxis, Hotels and Airport pickups. All were sorted out. They speak English and responded to Emails quickly and kept us informed. I will post all the pricing and details on here and on the Hubb when I have a minute. If you really need the info now send me a Email via the contact us or on the facebook page.
Colon was a dump and as it turns out pretty unsafe. Henning had a close call. I'm sure it will be in his blog.
Its a long time since Solitaire and Apple Pie in Namibia and 300 days. This time its 600 days and we are in Central America. Colon is a bit of a dump but Panama is strange having been in South America for a while. A lot of people speak English. Even Taxi drivers !
Henning should be with us today at our hotel and we might be getting the car. We find out in 45mins. Fingers crossed.
300 x 2 = 300: Rise of an Empire
Shouldn't it be called 600 ?
My last post in South America.....hopefully for now at any rate.
We are in airport departure lounge which is crap really. Its got nothing so stay outside as long as possible. Just round to the left side of the airport (facing out the doors) is a nice cafe on the other side of the road. You will be amazed to know it was only 5000COL for a soup and main dinner. Thats only £1.70 and it includes a drink. The cheapest so far in Colombia and I'm stuffed full on meatballs ! Got o where the taxis are and turn left, its on the other side of the road.
We managed to get Kelly on the counter to make us a dummy reservation to San Jose in Costa Rica. She advised not to show it unless asked and not to show the bus ticket at all. They might ask, they might not. Our experience is that the airlines are more difficult than immigration so I do not think we will have a problem. Henning is currently finding it difficult to refund his Avianca ticket. We are on Copa and what I can say for sure is tickets bought on Copa are only refundable in/on the palce you bought them. Online refunded online and ones purchased at an office refunded in the SAME office. You have been warned as its easy to miss it in the terms.
Matilda is on the boat. We had a small issue as it turns out the car was booked to Panama City for delivery to the door. However we soon got this corrected. The agent in Panama is excellent. They've got us a taxi from the airport,,, and a hotel. Now thats service.
Review on the entire thing when we have the car. Should be Monday we hope. The hotel in Panama isn't cheap. Better to stay in Car
No sure what to say here. We went, we "bathed?", we washed. We enjoyed it. It was 50,000COL each which included dinner. I've always wanted to go to one and now I have. Its an experience.
I performed some other checks for a quarter pounder and horse meat....turns out its a double quarter pounder and hung like a horse......(check out the facebook page if this confuses you)
Not sure what fish it was or what the birds are.....
A bit of info on shipping and a bit of info on air tickets.....AGAIN !
A bit more info on the menu of the day...I forgot to say it was soup, main course and drink all for the price. I know some of my family will now likely be booking a plane ticket here,,,,, to stay forever. If there's ever a true Yorkshire-man its my Uncle Roger. He does like a bargain. It must be genetics as its in my blood also.
So for those of you shipping from here we paid today and the port costs came in slightly under 700,000 at 652,350COL.
I should also say only ONE person (and that's the owner) is allowed into the port to do the loading. Some other overlanders need to know this info. This is quite important as it a royal pain in the arse. Julie and I normally look after all paperwork and loading together. Its not a very exciting place to wait for those not doing the loading.....However there is a small restaurant but no air-con!
Airline tickets. You know about the not allowed to fly without a return ticket thing. Well,,,Panama enforce this. Immigration enforce it and so do the airline. So we got an onward ticket to Costa Rica (on a bus) for $80usd and they won't accept it. The system confirms this. I read it wrong. SHIT ! $80usd down the drain. So we go to the ticket office and check. They say "NO" you need a return/onward ticket. So we go to the airport to see the supervisor. Luckily they say they can make us a reservation and this is enough. They understand its silly and they will help us out. GREAT !!! However we did have to show them the bus ticket and possibly they would not have offered to do the reservation if we hadn't got the bus tickets. The bus tickets were purchased by Henning and he Emailed us a scan. You can't buy them here ! So if you are do the same trip as us you need to figure out another way to get the airline to do a reservation and satisfy 1) the airline you are leaving Panama 2) Panama Immigration that you will leave Panama.
For those that say they've never had this trouble and its all bull etc. etc. This is now the THIRD time we've been told we cannot fly ! That's 100% of the times we've flown !!!!
Some shots of our wander round Cartagena and some of our lunch. Its amazing what 9000COL gets you. Soup and main course and a drink. This is £3.04p which is amazing really. Its been cheaper in other countries but we took no photos. The lunch today was great and also the evening snack. If you come to the hotel we've mentioned then the bar down the road opposite the Hotel Andreas near (next door) to the bathroom shop is only 2000 for a beer (its 1800COL in the supermarket) and the cafe next door (other side to bathroom shop) make the best Hot Dogs in the world. At least the best I've ever had! For 7000COL they do a Chorizo Hot Dog and onions and have a wide selection of sauces. The Bar is called El Barathon we think.
Cartagena is a great place. Out of all the places we've been its the closest to being a place we'd stay. This is weird....its Colombia !
According to the FCO there's only 9500 British come here each year. Why is that? Probably the amazing revue they give it on the FCO web site. Drug lords and kidnappings aside there seems to be none of that in Cartagena. I've also wanted for a long time to go to a mud baths.....wheres one of the best in the world? Right here.....watch this space.
Some photos of where we are staying in Cartagena. You may note there is a car park in front and its big enough for Land Rover or medium truck. The Hotel is 70,000 or $37usd. Its got cable TV, Air-con and Wi-Fi. The rooms are cleaned properly and although its slightly noisy its fine. We are going to be here in total two weeks. There's no food provided.
There's a photo of the item the narcotics agent was most "interested" in. As you might note its "tip-ex correction mouse". The handling agent Martha was also interested in what it was. After a demonstration the narcotics agent was happy and Martha wanted one. After I explained it was Julies and I would ask her Martha was happy. Later Julie donated the item and Martha was very happy.
There's also a few GS's in one of the hotels....maybe 100 of them. Mostly 1200's and all Colombian.
Today we loaded Matilda in a container. Many hours were wasted. We arrived at 9am at the terminal and didn't leave till about 5pm. Two hours were taken for them to make a mess inspecting all our belongings. Only I (not Julie) was allowed into the port so our normal policy of one door open at a time was not followed. They wanted the entire contents of the car on the floor. They even wanted the roof boxes removed. I told them to get stuffed. Needless to say they didn't find my 10kg of Heroin. Probably because there isn't any !!!! (I should correct that to cocaine as that what they grow here) It would however have been easy to get some through. They need an X-Ray machine not a guy looking in boxes. No wonder the North is flooded with drugs. They cannot possibly expect to get even 50% this way. So as the USA department in charge of this type of thing is reading my blog (using PRISM) they should follow the Spanish way and buy their neighbors a scanner to stop them getting the drug due to poor inspections.
Anyhow....the delay was the container rental company buggering up the paperwork and then having lunch for two hours. The agent was OK I suppose but it does really fall on them to make sure everything is set up before we get to the terminal. It seemed nothing was set up. We were not impressed. They did however strap and chock Matilda as I had requested and got me a drink when I was about to pass out from heat and stress.
At one point early on I didn't even think I was going to get in the terminal. They (terminal) wanted me to leave the car and keys. I of course said "no way !". Did they actually think they could load the car? I have to deflate tires and disconnect the batteries. Do they even know where the battery is on a a Land Rover?
Until very late on in the day I didn't even know if the terminal knew where the car was going....again not impressed with the flow of info from the Spanish speaking agent. They need someone to speak English to help them out and this could be a trainee dedicated to dealing with the massive amount of overlanders that could come their way now the other agent has pulled out. All that said its mainly a language thing and they have so far fulfilled their duties correctly. Mainly....
Julie waited (outside) all day in the searing heat. I at least got to go into an Air-conditioned office for some of the day but I waited doing nothing from 9am until 2pm (when they'd finished lunch!!!). Nobody told me what was happening or how long it could be until about 1:50pm.
We paid 40,000 for lashing and 350,000 for the container. Port fees should be about 700,000 and the agents fees are 380,000. At the other end we are told its about $1000USD for "ALL" charges in Panama. (full costs when we know exactly).
So about $1800 in all. That's if the Panama charges are correct. The flights are another $1000USD for the return ticket we don't want. Its not cheap this Overlanding...actually its the Overwatering that's costly.
Today we went to the shipping agent to complete some paperwork and pay some money. At the moment we aren't filled with confidence that they are 100% used to shipping overlanders. They don't speak a work of English but we are managing via Google translate. Luckily they have Wi-Fi on the office so we can have a limited conversation. Once we are in Panama with our car we will post a detailed report of what we did, who they are and what everything costs. We are holding off posting incomplete info just in case the Agents mess it all up. We are also expected to report on this to the recommended Agents who will no longer do overlanders as it was they who passed us on. They asked us to do this. If they do a good job we will certainly recommend them. At the moment the costs are as expected.
Today we went to Burger King for a quick lunch on the way to the agent. I noticed a sign on the till that said if they don't give you a receipt that your entire order is free. Of course I waited until I had my order and then notified them that I had not received a receipt. After a bit of an argument which neither side understood. I was refunded my money. Makes a Yorkshire-man very happy to have a lunch for free.....even if I had to argue the point. Why have a sign if it means nothing. I've said it before, rules are made to be followed and if the people who make them don't actually want you to follow them they they can just remove them. Normally policy's and rules are left in place for ever.....when did McDonald's formally notify us all that free re-fills were gone....they had lovely adverts to tell us they give free re-fills at the start......sometime later it ended. Nobody told me. At least not in a TV advert or any sort of sign/poster.
Henning is in Panama with his bike after flying there. He also flew the bike. I wish we could fly Matilda. You must have at least $500USD to get in and a return/onward ticket. These are the rules among others. Silly airline rules blaming Immigration.
We seem to have a knack of finding them....
Those of you in the know will recognise the magazine as the Jehovah Witness publication. The hotel receptionist was reading it so I snatched it. English version. Now handed back for someone else to read.
I read all about how I want to kill Julie most of the time and how we will both be saved if we move into a Hotel so Mr. Garmin doesn't cause any more arguments. There was also a nice snippit about the new 3D printer that prints in Titanium !!! I could make car parts on the road !!! If the new lottery winner wants to buy me one I'd be very happy to receive the gift.
One of the hotel carparks we stayed in. Actually it was a Hostel and probably a place where man and women do the naughty. It was quiet and safe and on the main road. We were allowed to shower and use a room if we wanted. It was only 15,000 and the staff were nice. The GPS point is on the map near Caucasia on Ruta 25. Called Hostal El Rosal. (yes I know I look as fantastic as aways)
If only it was this simple....
Time again for finding a shipping company to take us across and area where we are not allowed to go. This is the way of things. We need to ship over the Darien Gap and possibly past a country that won't let us drive through. We might be shipping to Mexico due to the rules in Nicaragua. We cannot confirm the law in Nicaragua as our Envoy there isn't answering emails. This is also the way of things. We never get real help from the British Embassies although the lady in Chile did answer a few questions. I'm not impressed with what they do at all. They only open a few hours a week and don't answer the phone or Emails.
We are staying in a Hotel in Cartagena until we can find an shipping agent so we're again spending money we don't want to spend.
Last night we stayed in a Mobil/Esso station over the oil drain pit. Armed guard watching and a little cafe where we could eat. Problem was in the morning we needed to move at 7:15am for two lorries to do an oil change.
All the people were great and the garage staff were fantastic.
Some photos of Rusty and Laura's Land Rover V8i their lovely children and also our visit to the Hot Springs.
Last nights camping spot over the drain pit at the fuel station.
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