Sunday, January 12, 2014

January 7th, 2014 Cartagena, 32 degrees C, 94% humididty

Our plans for an easy entry to Columbia went side ways on us today and we spent most of the day clearing customs and purchasing government insurance for the bikes. We met the boat at 7 am and got all the bikes loaded onto a floating dock which was tied to the side of a boat. Each of us had to sit on our bike for the ride to shore and once there we drove off and parked on the street.
Chile forgot his key back at the hostel so we had to tow him to the customs office. 
We are now told we can't go to customs until 10 am and are warned that they close for lunch between noon and 2 pm. The ships broker finally shows up and starts processing the paper work with the government officials and we are out by 12:30. We then return to the dock to retrieve the balance of our panniers and riding gear which is sent ashore via a zodiac. It's now time to purchase government insurance and Alex leads the way to another location where we need to wait while one person at a time is processed even though there is at least ten employees sitting at their desks doing nothing. For some reason I believed things would get better but so far that we've experienced is a continuation of Central Americas inefficiencies.
Outside the insurance office in Cartagena.
By 2:30 all six of us have insurance and head back towards the hotel only to have a taxi pull within inches of my leg, I lay on the horn, which does no good and finally hit his mirror folding it into the door. The traffic stops and he tries to open his door but we are wedged together and he can't climb out of his cab. As we drive away he continues to force me into the curb and I finally send my size 13 riding boots into his door. I think he finally clues in that there are six of us riding together and he leaves me alone. Taxi drivers here are the worst we have experienced and lines on the road must be for decoration because none of them can keep a vehicle between the lines on the road.
Jesse's rear tire needs replacing and it takes us two hours to change it out in the sweltering heat.
Historic Cartagena is quite nice as evidenced from the following photos.


 On our last full day in Cartagena Chris shows us a picture on a face book post of a BLT sandwich with guacamole and that is when  we all decide to stay in and have a home made meal. Alex and Nathaniel take ownership and go shopping for groceries.
 Finally, a home made meal prepared by Alex and Nathaniel, it was wonderful!
Clockwise from Diana, Nathaniel, Jesse, Nico, Dan, Taylor, Alex and Chris.
Diana and I went to the supermarket (similar in size to a Safeway) for a few supplies and while walking through the meat department I notice these huge tubs of different cuts of meat. The tubs are about two feet by three feet and one foot deep and people are digging through the meat with their bare hands looking for the perfect piece of meat. It's no wonder us gringos get sick down here as hygiene is non-existent. 

Courtyard at the hostel.

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