Welcome to the northern tip of South America!! Cartegena, Colombia.. My first impressions are very good! I didn’t expect such a modern good looking city from the boat.
After breakfast we are waiting on the bow of the Independence and I ask Kevin how did he enjoy his journey? I got quite a response!! It’s the perfect combo. A big smile for the greatest time in the San Blas Islands, the finger refers to the last 2 days of hell… Good answer.
We have motorcycles to sort out, so the first job of the day is to ferry the non-motorcycle passengers to shore so they can be free to move on. Lucky dogs!!!
After they’re gone, the captain tells us that we are not taking the bikes to shore today until our bikes and passports and passed through the agent. He wants to charge us $75 USD each to do this. We all have enough border crossing experience not to have to pay him to process paperwork for us. We politely declined. ;-/
We were not going to stay another night on this boat, so we went to shore as well to organize a hostel.
This is where Kevin decides to give the captain (who is driving the dinghy), a proper Scottish mouthful! He was still really ticked off about the life jackets situation and the captain is still standing by his argument that he has plenty. Why then…. have seen only 8! If we needed fast access to them, where are they? We are on the dinghy leaving the Independence still totally unaware of all these life jackets he claims to have. “I will get them for the passengers if they need them… ” That’s not good enough!!! Go Kevin!!!!!!
Once we were off the dinghy and enjoying our leisurely illegal entry into Colombia, the bikers all went their separate ways except Patrick, me and Kevin. The plan is to meet up with the others tomorrow to unload our bikes from the Independence.
The best thing we can do at the moment is start our mad search on foot for a place to stay. There are two areas most recommended. One is the old town.. expensive. And Getsemani neighborhood… much cheaper. Guess which one we chose?
Our first meal off the boat and even better our first meal in SOUTH AMERICA!!!! Life dreams are coming true..!!!!
So far, we are thinking Colombia is pretty darn cool. We ran across the other boys still searching for hostels as well. We joined up and found a place down a road that had enough rooms for all of us.
This was our street, loved it as soon as I saw it. I’m glad we chose the Getsemani neighborhood. It’s not recommended as the safest place to stay, but we never had a problem and loved the location and character.
After a big big shower, we set out to explore more of the old town Cartegena at night.
Which way do we go???
Kevin said “Even at this angle it’s a long way to the bottom of South America”. He thinks it looks big.. I think it looks small. Every time I see this I can’t help to sing, “It’s a small world after all.. ”
The next morning all the bikers congregate at the dock to return to the dreaded Independence. While waiting, we saw another dinghy loading motorcycles for the opposite direction and they are from the more famous Stahlratte aka Steel Rat. We originally wanted to take this boat as well, but it was well booked in advance and we were not willing to wait.
Anyway, Kevin went right over to discuss their loading/unloading procedures, because we thought it was really strange to drop us off right in the middle of a city and country without going through the immigration process.. and of course the life jacket issue, etc. When he told the Stahlratte guys our storm experience they couldn’t believe it. They, as well as most other boats, watched the weather reports and chose NOT TO SAIL THROUGH THAT STORM!! Ugh!
That waterlogged boat we are returning to this morning is preparing for the new passengers boarding this afternoon. (How they are going to get all the bedding including mattresses dry from SALT WATER in one day is beyond me) Plus there is an issue with the wooden floors warping already.
Anyway, that is why he sailed through the storm, more passengers = more money. I understand that, business is business. But not when you put the lives of others at stake.
We’re picked up by the captain and back on the boat now… Oh man, that smell!! We packed up our bike gear and my green t-shirt I found on our little paradise of one-tree island is still in our cabin. Kevin looks at me, aren’t you keeping it? I said, no. It’s smells it’s full of holes, I don’t need this shirt in the limited space I have on my bike. He asks, “Can I have it?” Sure! Not sure why you’d want it but go for it!
Now for the scary process of hanging my bike over a very deep ocean by a rope and then lowering it into the wobbly dinghy below. Sorry for the overload of photos again in this post.
This shot made me laugh.. it’s a Kevin photo taken in my time of wanting to get to the deck below as fast as possible to catch my bike if it falls…. yeah right!!
I screamed a couple times on this one. The waves are not horrible, but they are choppy enough to make me feel I could lose the bike just from being nervous.
The photo below is not my best angle, but it was the best way I could stay balanced with the bike.
Now Kevin’s bike .
Oh man.. don’t drop it!!!!
Here comes Kevin.. He is all smiles, no where near as nervous as I was.
So.. check this out. The police show up! We knew that it was wrong for the captain to have us unload on a standard city dock. He says he does it all the time, and we don’t know any better.
To make a long silly story short, as this captain never fails to surprise us, the police go out to meet with him and charged him a fine for exactly that! Unloading foreigners AND motorcycles onto a city dock! I wish I knew how much the fine was. I wanted to pipe up and say.. can you do a Maritime inspection while you’re out there??? Any boat safety standards apply in Colombian waters?
The police were cool with us though and we did as they asked which was to ride to the Customs office after all bikes are unloaded and ready. After a few hours, we had each and every bike off the boat. Need to give the captain some credit, not a single bike was dropped in the drink. All in all the captain was a nice man, just a little loopy.
Kevin (above on the concrete fence) is taking this photo below.. Little girl black dog was hanging around us all day.. She makes another appearance in the next blog.
We made it to Customs!!! Let the process begin!!!
Don’t get too excited. We arrived the Customs office (Aduana), only to find them closed for lunch. Damn.. it never fails!!!!! Might as well have our Colombian South American lunch too.
So here’s the complete motorcycle team. Annie from Scotland, bought a Harley Davidson in Florida and is riding south solo… Good on ya Annie!!! Next is Sam, Dan’s good Australian friend who lives here in Colombia, Dan from Oz on KLR, David from the USA on BMW 1200gs, Guillaume from Montreal Canada on KLR, Brad from the US on a bright yellow Suzuki V-strom, Patrick you all know, from Canada on Suzuki DR650, Kevin and me! Missing in this shot is Conor from the UK on a Red Suzuki V-Strom. He is as bit overwhelmed from the heat and humidity and sitting outside with the coldest glass of water we could find. I don’t think I’ve had a photo of all of us together yet, so I wanted to introduce a bit better. By the way, my first Colombian meal ended up to be “Cuban” rice. It was fantastic and I’ve never been there either!
Welcome to Colombia…. Hasta luego! 😉