Hello from Cartagena. Just arrived here this morning by the plane and having a latte at Juan Valdez. It is 8:40am and I have few hours to kill before going by the Maritime office to pick up Bill of Lading and begin the process of temporarily importing the bike. I thought I would take the time to write my observation and my thoughts/opinion about the border crossing. You might agree. You might not. Like many of you, I have read many riding reports and hear many stories about how chaos it is at the border. It seems that the price and procedures of documents and visa is never the same. I read some stories about riders being worried that their item may be stolen they secured their bikes with best security equipments their money can buy, whether it is a top of the line Touratech GPS holder with keylock or a pelican cases over saddlebags. But after doing few border crossings and talked with Marko, my new deaf friend that has been riding around the world three times since 2009. He explained that when he passed through Central America (northbound) in 2010, he remembered that it was a breeze getting through border with less paperwork and how easy it was getting visa and importing bike without complications. There was way more motorcycle, traveling vehicles, and RV crossing borders and it was faster back then. When he travel through again couple of years ago using the ferry from Colombia to Panama, he explained that it has gotten more complicated and more expensive. Less traveling vehicles compared to 2010. And this being his first border crossing southbound.. he said its about the same as two years ago but somewhat less traveling vehicles than couple of years ago. Based on his story and our observation, we have determined that half of documents are all bullshit. #1) It is just government’s way of helping some people to make money. #2) It is just a scam to make money off gringos. #3) It is to help immigration and border officials to process paperwork the lazy way. We observed that depending on the border they want a copy of your exiting document is because they do not know or understand English/German language that they depend on exiting document from previous border to input your info into their system. So we have to pay for copy of the document for them to do it. Fuck that! They work the job so they should learn. It is not like we are the rare visitor making rare appearance. They have frequent visitors from all over the world so they should learn! It is not difficult to figure out what is what after repetitive of doing it few times a week or month. How many of you have been told you need 4 copies only to find that 2 copies were used and you end up keeping 2 copies? It is just a way to scam us and they get to share a piece of pie. So we arrived at the point we made our stand and fought at each crossing. Sometime we would make big attention getting the crowd to look at our way and we use sign language explaining to the crowd what is happening in hope to apply pressure to the officials they cave in and let us win. We were threatened to be arrested if we didn’t cooperate but we scoffed and called their bluff because we believe that our passport (USA and European) is stronger than their we stood our ground. We had strategy in plan that if we were to get arrest and how we would deal with it if it comes to that but thank goodness it never happened. You guys might not want to stand your ground and fight, but if this continues then border crossing can become more painful and more expensive. We stood our ground and won most battles.. Some battle we didn't win because we realized it was not bullshit but a standard procedure so we cave in depending on the situation. Be sure you are watching other people making the cross to be sure they are paying or not paying, and ask them why if other people are not paying when they are asking you to pay. And lastly, we left our bikes unattended without taking away our GPS, camera, etc. Nobody even came close to our bike to take anything away. Don’t know why but nothing bad happened. We were asked few times to tip if they watch our bikes but we kept saying no. We think it may be a code thing that if someone steal something at border crossing, it can be bad for business for border helpers and others but that’s just a guess so you take the risk if you decide not to spend money on security stuff to protect your gear/equipments. We were successfully at getting border helpers to buzz off but eventually few of them offer to help without money because they realized that we were deaf and helped us.