30 September – Day 70
Panama City, Panama to Bogota, Colombia
Distance 771kms (by air!!!)
It was kind of nice using a different mode of transport for a change… especially one that covers a few hundred kilometres in the space of less than two hours, and one where I can sleep while in transit!!
So yes, the flight was good. The subsequent six hour wait in the cargo terminal of Bogota airport, inhaling truck fumes and cigarette smoke, while Adrian was off doing bike-related import paperwork was not!! Seriously… six hours… sitting outside the shipping company’s office, next to their loading dock. Not the ideal way to spend one’s first day in Colombia, that’s for sure.
The good news was that the bike got through totally unscathed and – other than lengthy delays in various bureaucratic offices* – there were no issues with the importation. We’d heard stories of people having to wait up to a week for their bikes to arrive, so the fact ours made it in a couple of days was positive too.
It was getting close to sunset by the time we had got the bike out and repacked it, and the peak hour traffic and dim light, combined with a street naming and numbering system that is hard to understand at first, meant that we struggled to find our hotel… a couple of times, Adrian parked and walked around looking for it while I watched the bike. Eventually we found it and pretty much crashed for the night.
* Two examples of bureaucratic delays we have experienced first hand:
- The ‘right’ person has gone to lunch/is not currently available = wait for up to two hours for them to return (and spend maybe 60 seconds stamping our papers twice)… note we have experienced this on multiple occasions
- Wait right at the counter while the immigration officer rips individual pages from his pad of immigration forms (like one of those notepads with glue along the top edge) until he has completed the whole notepad of forms so that they are now all loose-leaf. For no apparent reason!