We got to spend Christmas in Ecuador and we had some unexpected events that made our Holidays very special (in a good way). But until we tell you that, I hope you will enjoy the story of our first days in Colombia.
First days in Colombia: 12-14 of December
I open my eyes and the walls are moving. The problem is that you don’t have a fixed point to hold on too. Everything shifts and rocks up and down and from side to side. It is morning, it must be as there is some light from above. But the engine noise is missing. That means we are still broken down and “dead in the water”. I get up and carefully climb up to the deck. There people are trying to find a “stable” place to sit and wait.
The engine has problems with some admision valves which broke into pieces. Luckily there is a welding machine on board. And, even more, one of the travelers, Paul, knows how to weld. So, the guys get to work. It takes a few hours to take the parts apart, weld them and put them back. I can only imagine that it was quite difficult to weld in an environment which is moving all the time. After the second try, the motor is ready to go. We start with reduced speed in order not to stress the parts, but we are advancing.
So, with a delay of one day, we have land in our sights! We are in Colombians waters.
The first contact with the city is a total surprise. When thinking at Cartagena I was imagining old colonial port-town, with a scent of pirates and exotic spices. First time, we see… skyscrapers reaching the clouds.
But the old Cartagena will reveal itself, a little bit later. For now we had to get ourselvs and the bikes onshore. The part with taking the people onshore is easy. Just use the dingy.
To get our Colombian stamps is again an easy task, albeit a little tedious as we have to wait a while in the immigration building. And that’s it for the day. The bikes will have to wait a fresh start, tomorrow, at 6 AM.
And it is not going to be that simple. First step is to get the bikes on firm land. And here Stahlratte cannot approach a doc and just lift the bikes. So, we load the bikes, one by one on the small dingy! Then the owner will sit on the bike, to kip it “upwards” and navigate like that to the shore.
I must admit, that must have been one of the most interesting ways to “ride” a bike.
Then you must take your motorcycle to the aduana building which is several streets away. The interesting thing is that officially you shouldn’t ride your bike in Colombia, as you don’t have the paper work for the temporary import. But, you just ride it and rely on the fact that nobody will stop you and ask anything.
The paperwork takes the hole day. I guess that having 12 bikes at once in the Aduana doesn’t help with the speed but the general impression was that the officials take their time. A lot of time. Anyway, by 16 o’clock we are out and drive to hour hostel which quickly fills with bikes. A beautiful sight for a motorcyclist.
With all the papers done and the bikes parked, it’s time to visit the old city. On the streets we find a lot of cars which are designed in Romania and sold here under Renault badge. So we feel a little like home.
But we are not at home. The old colonial city reveals itself in bright colors and a lot of movement.
People are dancing, selling all kind of stuff on the streets, listening to latin music and just having a good time.
We are walking throuch old neighborhoods with quiet parks and… Christmas trees.
Yes, Christmas is coming soon. For a second, just a second, I think that we are so far away from home and our Christmas traditions. It will be the first year being away from Romania in this season. And not only that we will be away from Romania but we don’t even know where we will be. Colombia? Ecuador? The second passes and I smile. It will all be good.
For now, we talk with 3 of Santa’s helpers, asking them to tell Santa that this year, he needs to bring our presents in South America!
We have dinner on the side of the street, from a stand, with the locals. We feel incredible good! We are surrounded by salsa, lights, people dancing in front of their houses or discussing the day’s matters over a beer. We are in Colombia and we start to feel it!
No map for this story.
Next time we find out in how many ways you can pass a slow moving truck on a Colombian road. Stay tuned!