Dirt Sunrise: Tim and Kelsey get lost...

SOAZ

Tim and Kelsey get lost..
We headed off with our new friends and container buddies, Jordan and Jacob (or Hacob as everyone pronounces it here), to an epic spot overlooking the Panama Canal. A new friend, Alejandro of #vibesofpanama dropped by with some pizza and Panamanian Chocolate for us! We'd met him by chance at the same spot the week before while we were looking for a place outside town to hang out while our shipping date approached. We both saw each others trucks (He's got a beautiful double-cab Defender) and started talking about our adventures right away.

In the morning we headed across the country to Colon where the next step in the process of shipping our vehicle to South America took place. Soon it was shipping day! We arrived early in the AM to the first of many stops to get our truck into a container. Then we walked to a window to pay some money and get more stamps. Then off to another office. Then we were at Aduana for the final step before dropping our trucks. All of this before 10:30 AM. Aduana said the computers were down and we'd have to wait for the system to come back online. 2 Hours later of watching employees sleep, chat or put on make up with nothing else to do we were assured that the system would be up in 10 minutes (10 minutes means an hour or more in our experience). If we didn't get our trucks dropped by 3PM we would miss the ship, period. Jake and I stood there getting more and more nervous. The girls were back in the truck waiting and wondering what was going on. Incidentally we decided to grab lunch from a food cart that had a big line just outside the Aduana office. It was fantastic and I've never seen a food cart chef with such impeccable cleanliness. If she was ladling food into a container and even a drop fell she'd promptly clean up. Our stomachs later confirmed that this food was A- Okay!

At about 2:30 the computers were up and the grumpiest and slowest lady in the office stood between us and success. She then decided she wanted one extra copy of a stamp in our passport. We brought what we were told we needed, but she wanted one more. Not having a lot of f@cks left to give I walked over and used their office copier without asking. At this point we had no time and had to move. We pulled our trucks in as most of the workers in that section of the port were going home for the day. We aired Jakes tires down on his hightop van as he removed his solar panel needing EVERY inch to fit into a highcube container. Jake and I grabbed the last cold beers in our fridge before we let the truck go. It was an exhausting, but triumphant day. Cheers!

Now... all we had to do was hail a cab to the bus station in Colon. Then find a bus back across the country to Panama City and catch our morning flight to Colombia. The taxis tried to make us pay gringo prices so we held out until a nice man charged us the normal rate. The very first bus we saw at the station looked clean and the quoted price was less than expected so we were off! Once we arrived in Panama city we all grabbed a triumphant beer at the bus station TGIF. Yes, you read that right, we walked off the bus and into TGI Fridays for a beer. It was hilarious, but perfect.
Time for a whole new continent! We should be back in our truck in 4 short days... right?

Tim

P.S. Right from that bus station/mall in Panama City a new friend named John came by and picked us up and gave us a place to stay for the night. The internet can be a wonderful thing. Someone on Instagram reached out and had been giving us tips on spots to explore in Panama. She no longer lives there full time, but hooked us up with her friend for a place to stay the night before flying to Colombia.
The next morning John even gave us a ride to the airport which was actually situated on the former US Military base.

Cheers to everyone in Central America, we're lucky to have met so many wonderful people!
 

Saint Nick

Active member
Being new here I've just come across your adventure thread, and I have to say it's bloody awesome (y) As I'm at work I've had to fast forward through your videos, but I'll be going through them all properly at the weekend. I've also had a brief look at your site and blog, and I'll also read it properly at the weekend. Look forward to future updates and thanks for sharing.

Nick
 

SOAZ

Tim and Kelsey get lost..
It’s great following along!
Thanks amigo. Consider flying in and joining us for a bit.

Being new here I've just come across your adventure thread, and I have to say it's bloody awesome (y) As I'm at work I've had to fast forward through your videos, but I'll be going through them all properly at the weekend. I've also had a brief look at your site and blog, and I'll also read it properly at the weekend. Look forward to future updates and thanks for sharing.
Nick
Thanks Nick! Glad to have you along! Cheers from Colombia!
 

Saint Nick

Active member
Thanks Nick! Glad to have you along! Cheers from Colombia!
You're welcome. Have been catching up on your videos, and man, am I jealous! Cannot believe how far you travelled for the pop up roof, how lucky you were that the fire didn't cause too much damage, and the roads, trails and places you've been are bloody awesome (y) Yep, definitely very jealous.

Enjoy Columbia.

Nick
 

SOAZ

Tim and Kelsey get lost..
Part 2 to our shipping saga from Panama to Colombia.

So, here we are in Cartagena. Something about that name. Carta-Hain-ya! It conjures images of exotic travel, historic architecture and maybe, if you’re an 80's kid like me, images of Michael Douglas or Danny DeVito driving through the jungle seeking adventure and riches. Somehow, that silly movie (I meant great movie “Romancing the Stone”), colors my image of Cartagena. With that silliness in mind, here we go.

We had 3 days to explore while we waited on our truck so we tried to take advantage. We walked out the huge peninsula of high rise hotels, we walked through the rougher neighborhoods enjoying the graffiti and food. The beaches are nothing to write home about. There are many, but the water is brown and the waves are small. The bars and restaurants on the peninsula are cheesy by any world travelers standards.




The Walled City is where it’s at. Sure, it’s the epicenter of tourism, but it’s also the epicenter of history. We walked through the streets, took the free tours with our container buddies and stopped often for a beer or a drink. It was interesting. Lots of people offering you things, lots of cheesy outfits, but still amongst it all such immense and beautiful history and architecture it was a highlight our travels. We also explored the rougher areas of Cartagena and found cheap food, cheaper accommodations and as Colombia is known for, the nicest people I’ve ever met.

Monday came fast. We knew that it “could” take 2 days to get our truck so we decided to book one extra night at our Airbnb just in case. We got up early and started walking the 9KM to the harbor. We stopped for coffee on the way and realized about 1.5 KM’s into it that the morning was hot and humid here. By the time we arrived at the shipping office we were roasted. It’s 8AM and we’re drenched in sweat head to toe. To the point that we look as though we’d jumped into a pool. No matter, let’s get this tedious process started!!

The lady at the counter took a a while and then said. “The only step you can do today is to go to this bank and pay this fee.” So, off we went and paid the fee. She said to pay the fee and come back tomorrow. I had a bad feeling because I expected a 10 to 14 hour day, but okay. We found a bank, paid, and went exploring. The next morning we came back as we were told to do. This morning she said the container had not yet been found... This was worrisome because we expected to be driving our trucks today. Last night was the “extra” night we’d booked so we NEEDED to leave today!! Then after a while of not helping us she said “okay, all done!”
We were all smiling ear to ear. We had our final Bill of Lading. We needed this to head to the DIAN, the agency in charge of the next step. DIAN was a couple of KM’s away. We went there to start our next step and he told us what we needed to get from Aduana. We then went to Aduana and we were really feeling like we’re making some progress. At Aduana, the guy mentions that I need to go and get better international insurance. (My insurance was essentially a MEDJET subscription which would fly me back to the USA where I had another travel policy that would then treat me. This was NOT okay. To enter the port I needed a policy that would cover me here. My bad, okay. (Here I was upset thinking this mistake could cost us driving out today.)
Then, Elejandro told me that our container had not been found... Wait... we’d heard this at Seaboard Marine, our shipping company, but then later she seemed happy and gave us the Bill of Lading.... We’d assumed the container was found. We’d assumed it was sitting somewhere in the yard waiting for us...

From what he said and a general feeling of dread we used the ship tracking app to see where out ship was. (We realized the ship name was on our bill of lading.)

....****... It was still in Panama. In the harbor where we’d loaded the truck. We emailed our shipping agent, who hadn’t replied to the last several emails, and asked what was going on.
 

SOAZ

Tim and Kelsey get lost..
With our heads hung low we left Aduana because there was literally nothing he could do to help when the item had not even entered the country. We knew only that our ship was still where we left it. No one we had info or would give us additional info. Our agent, Tea, told us that she had received no notice that the ship was delayed.... Here we are 3+ days past when it should have arrived. Well, let’s deal with the immediate problem and find a place to stay!

That night our Airbnb offered us a bigger room that would accommodate us and our container buddies. Thankfully it wasn’t too expensive. The next morning we heard that our ship had a paperwork issue. Some sort of an inspection had shown paperwork was not in order. We knew we had to look for a new place to stay. The place we were at was more than doubling in price for one more night due to Christmas. We found a hostel with a room and booked it. It was a dump and the following night we lucked out on a hotel listed on Airbnb that was a studio with a couch bed. So the next day we moved to the hotel. Each day we’d obsessively check the ship tracker with no progress and try to spend as little money as possible.. We enjoyed having some company with our misery. Of course, misery was too harsh of a word, but it was still nice to bitch and moan with some other travelers and friends.

After the hotel got expensive, again it’s day to increase prices for Christmas was later than the last place, we moved again. This time to the Bike and Dive Hostel. A cool place owned by some Germans who had motorcycles to rent and a sailboat you can book a day or a week on. (In other circumstances we would have jumped at all of the above). While we were staying at this new hostel enjoying the pool and watching a local rappers music video being shot on the roof we checked our apps methodically as we did every hour or so... OUR SHIP WAS MOVING! This was huge news. As usual, we saw that the ship was moving long before our agent, Tea, contacted us. We knew this was good, but still, how long did it mean until we get Goose back!?

So, the day it arrived we showed up to Aduana. We sat there the whole day going through steps. Part of which even involved seeing GOOSE!! We took pics of him and even let him out of the container!! WOOHOOO!!! Today we drive!.... We were done with the process at 2pm and after a couple hours of waiting to be handed the keys we were told that the offices were closing. The kid helping us said that he was trying to get us and another overlander in to get our trucks at the same time and instead... the time got too late and we’d have to come back tomorrow. (One thing this trip has taught us is that time is relative. 5 minutes means an hour and an hour means most of the day. Any longer than that offered and it could be a week.) Again, with our heads hung low we left and got another airbnb since our current one was again booked. We moved back to where we’d started, but this time they sprung a $60,000 peso surcharge on us at the counter that was not shown in Airbnb. What could we do expect complain later. We were zombies at this point. Exhausted. We crashed out and tried to stay positive for tomorrow.

In the morning we headed for Aduana early. Thankfully he took pity on us and rushed us through the last steps and our appointment to walk to our trucks. It only took a couple hours... Then, I still could hardly believe it, we were free. The moment that last checkpoint and barrier to the harbor was cleared I finally realized we were out. We were free and most importantly Goose was free!!! (And only a week and a half late)

Now, get me the F out of Cartagena!!!!
 

Attachments

locrwln

Expedition Leader
Sorry to hear about the delay(s), but I appreciate the detailed write up of the process. Great pictures also.

Jack
 

Saint Nick

Active member
Not a lot of fun eh, but these things are sent to try us! Still, something to tell the grand kids about one day ………………………………..!

Nick.
 

Rufant

Active member
With our heads hung low we left Aduana because there was literally nothing he could do to help when the item had not even entered the country. We knew only that our ship was still where we left it. No one we had info or would give us additional info. Our agent, Tea, told us that she had received no notice that the ship was delayed.... Here we are 3+ days past when it should have arrived. Well, let’s deal with the immediate problem and find a place to stay!

That night our Airbnb offered us a bigger room that would accommodate us and our container buddies. Thankfully it wasn’t too expensive. The next morning we heard that our ship had a paperwork issue. Some sort of an inspection had shown paperwork was not in order. We knew we had to look for a new place to stay. The place we were at was more than doubling in price for one more night due to Christmas. We found a hostel with a room and booked it. It was a dump and the following night we lucked out on a hotel listed on Airbnb that was a studio with a couch bed. So the next day we moved to the hotel. Each day we’d obsessively check the ship tracker with no progress and try to spend as little money as possible.. We enjoyed having some company with our misery. Of course, misery was too harsh of a word, but it was still nice to bitch and moan with some other travelers and friends.

After the hotel got expensive, again it’s day to increase prices for Christmas was later than the last place, we moved again. This time to the Bike and Dive Hostel. A cool place owned by some Germans who had motorcycles to rent and a sailboat you can book a day or a week on. (In other circumstances we would have jumped at all of the above). While we were staying at this new hostel enjoying the pool and watching a local rappers music video being shot on the roof we checked our apps methodically as we did every hour or so... OUR SHIP WAS MOVING! This was huge news. As usual, we saw that the ship was moving long before our agent, Tea, contacted us. We knew this was good, but still, how long did it mean until we get Goose back!?

So, the day it arrived we showed up to Aduana. We sat there the whole day going through steps. Part of which even involved seeing GOOSE!! We took pics of him and even let him out of the container!! WOOHOOO!!! Today we drive!.... We were done with the process at 2pm and after a couple hours of waiting to be handed the keys we were told that the offices were closing. The kid helping us said that he was trying to get us and another overlander in to get our trucks at the same time and instead... the time got too late and we’d have to come back tomorrow. (One thing this trip has taught us is that time is relative. 5 minutes means an hour and an hour means most of the day. Any longer than that offered and it could be a week.) Again, with our heads hung low we left and got another airbnb since our current one was again booked. We moved back to where we’d started, but this time they sprung a $60,000 peso surcharge on us at the counter that was not shown in Airbnb. What could we do expect complain later. We were zombies at this point. Exhausted. We crashed out and tried to stay positive for tomorrow.

In the morning we headed for Aduana early. Thankfully he took pity on us and rushed us through the last steps and our appointment to walk to our trucks. It only took a couple hours... Then, I still could hardly believe it, we were free. The moment that last checkpoint and barrier to the harbor was cleared I finally realized we were out. We were free and most importantly Goose was free!!! (And only a week and a half late)

Now, get me the F out of Cartagena!!!!
Man, that sounds like a trial. Good on you for not losing your **** and making it worse. It just reminds me that sometimes you have to be really good at waiting when overseas. I think we had to wait about 20 hours once in a bus station in Malaysia, as we'd just missed the only bus of the day. Pre internet, they had a TV and VCR, the only English movie was The Waterboy with Adam Sandler, safe to say I have never felt the need to watch that film ever again...

A week and a half takes the biscuit though. All makes for a good tale in the end.

Nice to see some writing too bud (y) :)
 
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