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.
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.
Last night we stayed for free with an lovely Australian man at his Garden Nursery. He's got quite a huge plot of land near Ibarra, Ecuador and sells thousands of plants wholesale style. He has a nice spot to park up and a kitchen and shower. He even has rooms if you're on a motorbike.
If you want to stay there just send him an Email to make sure he's around. His Email is gkersy at hotmail . c o m
The GPS point is below (you can look at where it is on BING MAPS, not Google) N 00 18.416 W 078 07.918
He mentioned he likes visitors ! Its a good place to stay and then cross to Columbia the next day. His place to Pasto in Columbia is easily done in a day. Even if you take hours to cross and spent over an hour buying insurance !!
We'd like to say thanks to Rusty, Laura and their lovely family for looking after us,,,, for a week !!! in Quito. THANKS !!!!
We've arrived in Columbia and we are staying in the Hotel Chambu in Pasto. They have a nice garage with 2.6 meter door. So if you need a hotel because you feel like you're going to be murdered due to the FCO reports then this is the place.
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