05.12.16 Bogota, Colombia, South America. 168th day
Yesterday was a day of flights, our bike left Panama City on a plane at 11am, and we left on a plane at 11.35am. The flight was smooth, efficient and despite only taking one hour ten minutes we got a free snack and drink! This was using Copa Airlines, a Panamanian company.
Tocumen airport was modern and efficient, and a pleasure to use. El Dorado airport in Bogota was the same, modern and clean. The only hold up was having to queue for extranajeros (foreigners) immigration which took an hour and half, but resulted in a beautiful stamp each in our passports.
We are thrilled to be here, South America- the place of our dreams. It really does seem unbelievable.
This morning we were up early again, as Paul could go back to the airport from our hotel (a very cheap and cheerful on what seems to be a pretty busy road in Bogota!). The offices open at 8am here.
First call of the day for Paul was to be for vehicle insurance, which we had been led to believe was required before being allowed the vehicle temporary import document. We had researched on the internet last night, and become thoroughly confused by the sheer amount of insurance offices, and then when trying to use the addresses being taken in a completely different direction on Google Maps than we were expecting. However, we believed we had found one seven blocks away.
When Paul reached this office, it was shut or closed, and so he hailed a taxi and asked him if he knew where there was an insurance office nearer to the airport. The taxi driver checked the internet but couldn’t find any, so Paul let him go. After some reflection Paul hailed another cab, and went straight to the airport, for the Cargo terminal.
Despite having an address, it still took a little time to find Air Cargo Pack’s office, mainly because it was a complete contrast to the office in Panama, being that it was super modern and huge, and full of staff. John, the boss, who we had met in Panama was there to greet Paul, which was nice. John also said that he would sort out the vehicle insurance for Paul, and asked his daughter to call a company and buy some for us.
Paul was then sent with Luis, an employee of Air Cargo Pack to the Custom Office to have the vehicle temporary import document produced. This office was incredibly busy and it took about 3 ½ hours to be processed, but having Luis with Paul made it easier.
I had remained at the hotel, and Paul sent me a text message to say he’d be on his way once they had figured out how to get the bike down, it was up high in the warehouse, with no ramp! The answer was to put the bike back onto a lorry, and take it to another company who did have a ramp, allowing the bike to be taken off the lorry, loaded into the bay and then taken down the ramp.
The last couple of hurdles for the day, was to bear in mind there was only a whisper of petrol in the tank, and for Paul to try to negotiate his way back through the busy traffic to the hotel.Most roads have at least four lanes of traffic, which you cannot cross. He told me the digital fuel gauge (that tells you how many left miles left to ride) hit zero miles, and he wafted along, luckily finding a ‘retorno’, place to do a U-turn into the Texaco garage that he could see from afar. That was lucky, well until the pump attendant sent Paul off in the wrong direction, unable to find a way out for several miles, before trying a few right turns, and one more wrong turn before I finally saw him come into view through the huge plate glass windows at the hotel. Phew! Another day in these crazy Latin American countries!!