August 12, 2012 - A large majority of people in the world spend their time waiting. It's often not clear for what. Maybe for harvest season, maybe for their life to improve. Waiting was the start of our South American adventures.
Our entry into South America went smoothly enough. Aside from the fact I was questioned about a bottle of contact lens solution - do you have beer in there? - and the merciless confiscation of Jan's rusted nail clipper at customs, we swiftly swapped continents in a short one hour flight that was probably one of the most expensive I've ever flown for the distance covered. That was the easy part. A fabulous little hotel in the shanty towns of the old city of Cartagena was the other highlight of day one.
Coincidentally, the welder who fixed my broken side stand, a result of the container shipment, is the shirtless guy standing in the doorway of the picture below. The building behind him is the workshop.
In the evening, we connected with our container mates and the next morning, bright and early, we headed to the port, hoping to clear the bikes out that day. I can lament for hours at the incompetence, bureaucracy and administrative stupidity that would give any African country a run for its money, or I can just stick to the statistics to give you a sanitized version of what we went through.
Elapsed time to get out bikes out of the port: two days. Taxi rides taken: eight to ten. Hours waited in various air-conditioned offices: about fifteen. Hours waited outside: about five. Photocopies made: about fifty in three or four different locations. Hours worn a hard hat: about five. Signatures and fingerprints taken: countless. People allowed into the port to actually empty the container of bikes and cars: one, yours truly. The fact it only took two days was solely because we had two Argentineans with us who carried out all the negotiations and did so in a very professional manner. We were mere wallflowers in the whole process.
Needles to say, we will never do it this way again. For those considering something similar, drop me a line and I can fill you in on some of the details.
The next few days we did absolutely nothing, aside from wander through town. Cartagena is a beautiful old town, very safe and very expensive in places.
I walked through town and shot a handful of pictures.
It's always fun to shoot alongside a professional photo shoot, I'm sure much to the chagrin of the photographer.
I hopped into the gold museum as well. Aside from the fact that the items on display were very interesting, they were mounted in such a way it was a pleasure to take some pictures without a distracting background. The lighting was superb.
Cartagena also seems to house a fair number of graffiti artists. At one point I found an entire street covered in graffiti.
After a few lazy days we are heading into the mountains. Mainly to do some hiking but also to escape the heat and humidity.