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Operation S.A.-14; The deep south, as in TDF

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by PDX Alamo, Nov 20, 2014.

  1. PDX Alamo

    PDX Alamo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 18, 2012
    Oddometer:
    789
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Landed in Cartagena yesterday with a nice flight. Foreign carriers still treat you like a person with polite staff, legroom, actual food, and wine all at no extra cost. What a concept for a 2 hour flight. When I landed I tried to get some cash from the ATM but most of them were "chip" required ATM's so after 4 tires I figured this out. Cab ride was $4.50, didn't even have to play the game of trying to rip me off which seems to be the norm when I travel.

    Staying at El Viajero which is a very nice hostel, at least the private rooms are at $25 a night w/ aircon and $1.25 beers at the bar, but you would be had pressed to get a bike in here unless your a trials guy.

    The next day I checked out the city and sweated my shirt out in about 4 minutes at 8:30 AM. The heat index is around 108 F, so yea it's f'in hot. Very cool city so I just wandered around the city wall and through the streets. I kept wandering around until I found the giant fort I had read about. Pretty impressive with tunnels running throughout the structure and pretty much impenetrable.

    I still haven't got my brain working yet on the new currency so when people say $17 I hear 70 and fork over way to much money. Luckily on 3 occasions people were honest and sorted me out. I did go buy some cipro which is an antibiotic that will save the day if you get the deli belly or Montazuma comes a knocking. Anyway the pharmacist hands it to me and tells me how much it is but I cant understand so he writes it down. $110,000. What !!! It takes a second to compute as I hand over a few bills thinking this cant be right, thats $50 US. I then realize this and tell him thats to much money. As I walk away he gets another box and that $35,000 or $16. Still pretty steep and he says this is the generic, not sure if it was a scam or the real deal. Either way had I had been sick I would have forked over the $110,000.

    Here are some pics of the city to keep you guys entertained until I get out on the road. Hopefully more interesting than dead possums, I try and set the bar low.

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    #21
    SmilinJoe likes this.
  2. canadian chris

    canadian chris Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2013
    Oddometer:
    328
    Location:
    Texada, British Columbia
    subbed! :lurk
    #22
  3. PDX Alamo

    PDX Alamo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 18, 2012
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    789
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Today is the day, not really

    This is mainly a technical how to post for those shipping into Colombia or needing SOAT so it will be pretty boring and its long because I have nothing else to do. One thing of note was while eating lunch today the TV was playing video of Americans on Black Friday trampling each other for tv's and the Colombians were laughing out loud. I was so proud.

    I packed up my things out of the hostel and moved to the Hotel Colonial since they would let me park the bike inside the lobby, Hotel San Rouque told me that I would have to park it in a public bike lot which after inspection and watching a guy drop a bike thought no dice. So with my things secured I went to Naves to sort out the paperwork. Luckily Luz , whom Gaston recommended speaks pretty good English. After a few minutes she told me that the bike had not yet arrived and would be here tomorrow at 2pm which meant that I could in a best case scenario pick it up Monday but could sort out all the paperwork on Friday and Saturday. I texted Gaston and he immediately called Naves while I was there and made sure there wasn't something he could do. He has been there before and during this process. Judging by the smile on the Luz's face as she talked to him, Gaston isn't some dude but someone more of like a friend. You would be crazy to go this process alone with out him.

    In order to pick up the bike from the port I am required to get Life Insurance for the days I will be in the port. Yes life insurance. Next locate the SOAT office that will sell me a month worth of it.

    Luz sorted out my paperwork and made copies of all the documents I would need for each place I had to go, gave me a written list of instructions in English of the process, and told me I would get an emailed bill from Bogata which I would pay at the bank tomorrow. Then I would return there tomorow with a recipt and would get the bill of lading. Sounds simple enough

    I went to the life Insurance place Liberty Seguros Calle 24, see the photo of the place.
    [​IMG]

    I know very little to no Spanish and when they started explaining things it mine as well have been Russian. Usually I can pick out a few words but this was a business transaction so there was no mention of things like Apples, cats, Tomorrow, good night , or anything that I was taught in my minimal Spanish.

    This was a Thanksgiving day and through that humbling experience and I am thankful for my cell connection, google translate, and very nice and patient Colombians. Eventually I signed something, gave a fingerprint, and hoped it was an insurance policy. In order to pay for the policy which was $30 for 3 days worth I had to go to the Bank of Colombia, pay it there, and bring back the receipt. When given directions I heard the word clock and ask someone , I asked Amarillo and success. Finally my Spanish has paid off.

    The bank is located in the main Plaza near the yellow clock tower. When in the walled city go to the courtyard to the left and around the corner.

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    Go into the Bank of Colombia and go to your left and upstairs. I mistakenly waited 15 minutes in the business advisor section on the first floor. The line to see a teller took 45 minutes but at least it had aircon. At the counter hand the piece of paperwork from the Insurance place and the cash. You might also want to get google translate to say "I need to pay my insurance". Do this before you arrive because there are numerous signs saying don't play with you phone in the bank and no one in line dared to do so must be legit rule. I went back to the office and gave the paid receipt to the lady. She was supposed to email me the policy before 9:30 AM the next day but it never came. I had the owner of the hotels son call and ask what the deal was. 5 hours later still nothing so I had Luz from the shipping company Naves call and after 10 minutes or so I finally received the policy.

    Day 2, Friday


    Paying the extra shipping company fees, that was fairly straightforward they emailed me a bill which never came until I called Gaston who worked his magic and 5 minutes later bill arrived. This was to cost another $180. I printed the bills and went to the pay at the bank which is of course closed from 12-2 . Finally in the bank I handed him the papers and he says I am missing something but I can not understand what it actually is , looks like a bar code. Make sure you have a barcode on the bottom of the bill. I go back to Navis that is right down the street and they print me the proper bills with bar codes on them. Back at the bank and the teller scans it, after paying the money I get receipts and head back to Navis where I get the original bill of lading and am told the boat still as not arrived but it actually en-route so that is good news.

    With that done I look for the SOAT office and and am quoted $44 US dollars for 3 months which is the minimum they say they can do. I walk to the other SOAT office by the Renault dealership which turns out is the same company. They tell me they cant do motorcycles and so I am sent back to the original office where I get the SOAT. GPS for the location is 10.41548 -75.54216.

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    The heat index was 108 F but I had nothin else to do but walk to all these places and got an awesome truckers tan.

    I think that about covers it all so I head to Customs and the port tomorrow to hopefully see the bike and get close to the finish line.

    Hope that helps anyone in the future.
    #23
  4. Baroquenride

    Baroquenride Everyone dies, but not everyone truly lives.

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Clark Co, Wa
    Note to self: never go to Columbia except for military purposes-cannot deal with the runaround. Also, carry M-16A2 along for 'life insurance' along with plenty of loaded magazines.
    #24
  5. Throttlemeister

    Throttlemeister Long timer Super Supporter

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    Location:
    Okie near Muskogee
    :rolleyes Totally obvious you have never been to ColOmbia before, it you had you would know better. Some of the most friendly beautiful people in all of South America and moto heaven:deal

    Check out the mud Volcano on the way up the coast about 40K East of Cartagena if you have time, certain days of the week it is kinda of closed and you can get in by yourself, just bring your own beer:1drink:lol3
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    and your girls too if you are going when it is closed:wink:
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    #25
  6. Baroquenride

    Baroquenride Everyone dies, but not everyone truly lives.

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    Oops....muscle memory in how we spell it.
    #26
  7. garfey

    garfey Scruffy Adventurer Supporter

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    Sep 22, 2010
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    10,464
    Location:
    Deep East Texas
    Probably good advice for the District of Columbia, though. :lol3
    #27
    PDX Alamo likes this.
  8. PDX Alamo

    PDX Alamo Been here awhile

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    Portland, OR
    Well I arrived bright and early to sort out paperwork in hopes of getting the bike out early Monday. When I arrived he said they were closed so come back Monday and talk to that lady at the desk. I asked can I talk to her now she is right there and I was informed again they were not working today. :eek1

    Ok back to the hotel and took Throttlemeisters advice , mud volcano here I come.
    #28
  9. Throttlemeister

    Throttlemeister Long timer Super Supporter

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    If you really want to get dirty then tell the cab driver "Chica Linda":lol3
    #29
  10. Ulyses

    Ulyses Long timer

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    I don't think his GF would approve....:D
    #30
  11. Ulyses

    Ulyses Long timer

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    Learn to love that attitude...you'll encounter it often. :1drink
    #31
  12. 2 Dogs

    2 Dogs 2 Dogs Supporter

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    Location:
    Dirty South- ATL
    In :lurk
    #32
  13. PDX Alamo

    PDX Alamo Been here awhile

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    Good call on the Mud volcano although looks a little low from when you were there. You can't sink and if you push yourself down you can't go under. I grabbed a post and pushed myself down but couldn't do it then you bounce up and float. The movement is like when you see people on the space station is as close as I can describe. Very cool experience

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    #33
    SmilinJoe likes this.
  14. LittleWan

    LittleWan You can do it!

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2009
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    Location:
    up on the pegs, in CA
    :lol3

    Aw, PDX A...
    BigWan and I shipped a bike once.
    Ship got delayed, so we went to go hang out in Prague for a while.
    There were other issues once it finally arrived (added fees to leave the port, bike wouldn't start, etc),
    so I guess that's just how it goes.

    Chin up, it's all part of the adventure!
    buena suerte (good luck)

    (you decided not to go with the "horse cock" signature line?:scratch)
    #34
  15. Todd34

    Todd34 Toubab

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    Location:
    Bogota
    In!
    #35
  16. PDX Alamo

    PDX Alamo Been here awhile

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    In case anyone thinks it's a good idea to ship your bike into Cartagena Colombia port here is the "actual process" which would have been helpful to have a week ago. I have been given plenty of misinformation as I go along. The people at the insurance office and one lady at the port have been unbelievable awesome in helping me throughout out this ordeal. They all recognize how ridiculous the process is. Keep in mind that a lot of these places are far away and require cab back and forth. Anyway I hope this saves someone grief and heartache. Everything is relative though because while waiting I talked to a lawyer who had moved a shipping container from Spain with his entire house containing everything he owned. He has been jerked around for 1 year 3 months and today after going or court had a court order in hand forcing customs to release his things but he has no life insurance so he also left empty handed. He said he had paid piles of money to people and still no luck. It made my motorcycle delay seem very trivial and I'm a nobody gringo who doesn't speak Spanish not a native Colombian lawyer.

    [​IMG][​IMG]


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    #36
    ONandOFF likes this.
  17. Throttlemeister

    Throttlemeister Long timer Super Supporter

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    If you want to save money on cab fares take the moto taxis, they are a whole lot cheaper and faster than the little cabs but also whole lot scarier riding on back of a crazed moto taxi rider in heavy traffic but its good adventure:lol3

    Sorry it takes so much BS getting a bike into Colombia through Cartegena port, it will all be worth it when you finally get set free:ricky

    Patience is a beautiful virtue, even more so in Latin America:wink:
    #37
  18. PDX Alamo

    PDX Alamo Been here awhile

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    Portland, OR

    Polla de Caballo , todos Los Dias e todos Los noches

    [​IMG]


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    #38
  19. LittleWan

    LittleWan You can do it!

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2009
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    Location:
    up on the pegs, in CA
    :lol3

    Y, in espaƱol, muy bien! :evil Someone has been getting edumacated :)

    [​IMG]


    Expandir mi cerebro, jugo de aprendizaje!


    Hope you get your bike soon!
    fingers crossed.
    #39
  20. PDX Alamo

    PDX Alamo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 18, 2012
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    789
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    Portland, OR
    Well I spent a crazy 12 1/2 hours yesterday running all over getting all things lined up for a bike release today. The lady at the port office spoke very good english and basically did all the paperwork for me. The place closed at 6 but she was there until 9 making everything happen so I could get the bike out this morning. Needless to say from the Insurance ladies who when I told them I had to have the insurance by 3 worked crazy fast and had other folks chip in to help. Anyway I wont bore you with details but its a ridiculous ordeal.

    Good news is it 8 am I brought my release in and there it was. Just as I left her nothing broken and nothing taken. It wouldn't start as was expected so I as I was trying to jump it with a battery they had there and a guy comes over and says there is a problem. Of course there is , he said a piece of paper was missing. I gave them the gals name and they were able to fix it in short order.

    They had an electrician come over and jump start it, fired up and I felt a sigh of relief. They then asked who they could bill for this professional jump start. Getting the bike set up in the heat was unbearable. The heat and humidity here is like nothing I can remember. Its like if Arizona was a swamp, anyway. I drove it back to the hotel in the insane traffic that is South America. Everyone drives like an asshole and soon you realize that is the only way to survive. Its an experience.

    I set the bike back up and packed up all my stuff then hit the road. I am all geared up in Klim Badlands and MC boots and I was literally about to have a heat stroke. Navigating the traffic out of Cartagena was yet another experience. The rest of the drive was just as unpleasant. Im tempted to go with the flip flops , tank top, and helmet on the arm approach that seems to be the norm here.

    Anyway 100 miles took about 3 hours of unremarkable scenery past lots of donkeys and people driving in my opposing lane. You get into the mix real quick and realize thats thats the norm so stay on on your toes. I had to stop in Sincelejo as I was running out of daylight and after trying 3 hotels with no parking I went to the one place I knew did, The Hotel Boston (from the XR 650 RR). I knew it was pricey but I didn't care I was tired and overheating. The place is overpriced $65 US and lots of comically loud road noise but if you need parking they got it.

    As others have said your bike will be like a Ferrari here with people all staring at it through traffic sometimes crowding around you like a biker gang just to check it out. I had numerous people leaning out of bus windows asking about it in Spanish, sorry I couldn't answer as my Spanish is crap and I was trying to stay alive. Several other guys were trying to talk to me while driving and I was doing everything to slalom the mayhem that is South American driving. I don't have much for pics expect the awesome Insurance ladies and Mono Gris with her stickers like a well traveled steamer trunk. Tomorrow I make a push for Medellin to see the amazing landscape that brought me here and some pics worthy of your time.

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    #40