We can’t believe we are here in Colombia and about to be reunited with our beloved van!!! It’s been a bit of a challenge but we are happy to say we have completed the paperwork process unscathed. Well except for having to part with a fair bit of money for the customs fees, insurance and a ton of port fees and a few days of our lives. Feels good to be on the other side! We have been told that we can pick Ginger up at 8am tomorrow – so hopefully everything goes smoothly and as planned!
After packing Ginger into the container last week we had a couple of days to explore Panama City. It was just about to start Carnivale there and things were starting to get busy. We wandered the waterfront and explored the streets of the old town area – trying to avoid the dirt and grime of the big city. Gotta say not our favourite city.
It looked to have a very modern business district, though the area we were in was pretty dodgy. We didn’t stray too far from our hotel after dark.
From Panama we flew to Cartagena, which is on the Caribbean Coast of Northern Colombia. Now this place is on our list of favourite cities in the world! The wall enclosed Old Colonial City is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is stunning and beautiful, with all it’s restored buildings and churches.
Of course there are lots of restaurant and bars with great patios and terraces to do some people watching. It is also the expensive part of town so we stayed just outside the walls in the cool neighbourhood of Getsemani. Here there are a ton of hostels and cheaper hotels plus restaurants within our budget and some fantastic street eats.
Besides an abundance of eating and drinking we took advantage of the good internet connection and used our time out to do some planning for the weeks to come.
Colombia was one of the countries we had most looked forward to and we don’t think it’s going to disappoint us!
We did start to get itchy feet and by Tuesday we were ready to get going on the process of importing the van. However, Ginger never arrived into port here in Cartagena until Wednesday morning and her container wasn’t unloaded until well into the night. We got everything we could get done done (customs fees paid at the bank, photocopies made and all the paperwork into the officials) but then we just had to sit back and wait.
Today we started at the port at 8am, and didn’t leave there until nearly 7pm. The day was spent hopping between customs, shipping agents and port offices… all requiring a taxi between them. Finally this afternoon Ginger was freed and unloaded from her confines of the container and we were happy to hear (from the one person from our shipping group who was allowed in!) that she had survived her sea voyage successfully. We didn’t actually get to see her, as we never entered the port, but will do this first thing in the morning.
Now we’re going to spend one last night in Cartagena before hitting the road!
We hope to spend a couple of days hiking and exploring around the beaches of Tayrona National Park before heading up into the mountains of Colombia to recover from our shipping ordeal. We are considering a 6 day mountain hike as well, but there are some logistical issues for us to sort out first (250 km of unpaved roads…). Fingers crossed!