After spending a few days in Colombia's capital Bogota, we flew to Cartagena on Monday, March 21. In Cartagena our van should arrive after he was on the high seas for about two days. Our agent in Panama had provided us with the tracking data beforehand, so we could check the ship's current location at any time. Due to a national holiday, the cargo ship had to stop at the port on Monday before it could be unloaded or unloaded as scheduled on Tuesday morning.
For the trial in Colombia, we received a detailed schedule from our agent on Monday evening. Too bad, however, that this applied almost exclusively to shipping by container. However, we have shipped our vehicles on a flatrack and thus on another logistics company. With some serenity, time and the well-known Overlander Apps we have also compiled this process independently. Although a certain uncertainty was involved, in the sense of "we have thought of everything" or "the coordinates of the companies and buildings to be visited", we started this adventure with our shipping partner on Wednesday morning. Expected time: 1 to 2 days.
How it finally turned out:
Wednesday morning, March 23, 2018
Take a taxi to the port of Cartagena (SeaBride building). Identify at the counter, answer questions and fill out a form. Pay the fee directly on the spot - no way. The USD 100 must be paid by bank transfer. I.e., walk 1km to the nearest supermarket. Switch doesn't open until 10:00. Wait 1 hour. Deposit money, take the receipt and walk back to SeaBride. document for DIAN (customs authority) and request vehicle keys. Take a taxi to DIAN. Fill out the form. Go to the next copy shop and make countless copies. Return to DIAN and submit the desired copies and form. Walk 1.5km to the port area. Obtain visitor badge and search for the person responsible. Fill out the form. Hand in personal travel insurance policies (so that we can even enter the port area - safety first). Waiting.
Official lunch break (knitted). Lunch at the gas station. Back to the dock employee. Waiting. Sign documents. Waiting.
Pay the port dues at the bank counter. The bill was almost USD 400 (USD 784) more expensive than our agent has always claimed. Thank you! (All were annoyed). Just hand in the receipt and you're done. Next appointment: Thursday morning 8:30.
Insurance company and determine that vehicle insurance policies for travellers are only issued between 8:00 and 12:00. Without exception!
Thursday morning, 25 March 2018
8 a.m. to take out compulsory vehicle insurance (SOAT). Take a taxi to the port and register with the port employee.
Fill out another form and answer questions again. Received instructions for the unloading process. Luminous vest and helmet on. Waiting. Hasten to the port entrance area and hand over the papers to the responsible person. Take the shuttle bus through the harbour area (quite impressive) to our vehicles. First personal inspection. Oh horror! Douglas' side window is completely shattered and there is hardly any air left in the rear wheel. Waiting. A port employee drives Van from the flatrack to the parking lot. Take photos of evidence and return to the responsible port employee. Hand over photos.
Waiting. Take a taxi to DIAN to pick up a form (you could almost think that fax and Internet have not yet been invented).
Shortly before noon: Vehicles cannot yet be accepted.
Official lunch break and return in the recreation area. Once more: wait. To be put off. Waiting. Finally! document and hurry back to the port area. Have your passport scanned and hand documents over to the port employee. Harbour staff are annoyed to find that the documents are incorrect. I.e. We wait. And now it still works. This is followed by a final verification based on the VIN number to determine whether we are the actual owners. Everything's legal. We're leaving the port area.
Meanwhile it is far after 4 pm and the originally planned journey to Medellin is far away. We drive to the nearest gas station, inflate the tire and fill the tank. Look for a safe parking space (without height restrictions) and book another night in the hostel. With a beer we toast Douglas' release and the coming period in South America. An expensive and strenuous chapter comes to an end.