Carted off to Central America

Trip Start Oct 23, 2006
Trip End Apr 15, 2009

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Flag of Colombia  ,
Monday, August 4, 2008

An e-mail from our friends Jacques and Elizabeth rescued us from the thorns of the rose bushes. Their message says that they are about to enter into Colombia from Venezuela and will be in Cartagena in a couple of days to arrange shipping to Panama and are we interested in sharing a container again. It is great to smell the roses but don't miss the boat.
A day earlier we had no idea as to the where -a -bouts of our friends other than suspecting that they may be lost somewhere in Venezuela. Their plan was to ship from Caracas to Canada, then to France where they live. We entertained a short lived idea to ship from Caracas but changed our minds because firstly,we are familiar with Cartagena and its ports and that alone eases the difficult shipping experience, or does it? Caracas turned out to be a nightmare for our friends and luckily Cartagena is a handy alternative.
We leave this quaint setting for a three day jaunt to Cartagena. The last ten days are reminders of our second reason for wanting to ship from Cartagena; another opportunity to see Colombia. It is a nice place and its friendly people make you feel welcome. The next three days pass easily and the caribbean coast is steamy,true to itself no matter the season.
We arrive in Cartagena and like old pros we find our way around and straight to our friends at the Bella Vista Hotel, a convenient place to hang out when there is shipping business to be done and the secure parking and wi-fi are handy amenities. It might not be considered a destination spot for a romantic experience in Cartagena but with its clean and slightly run down condition, urns and gardens stuffed with plants, and canopy of ancient rubber trees covering the courtyard make it a charming place to bide time.
It is rainy season here and once a day heavy rains turn the city streets into flowing rivers. People carry on as usual in knee high water. The rain comes joltingly fast, filling gutters, roads and hallways with amazing rapidity. Hallways? Yes our hallway but amazingly within hours it runs off. Apart from the rooms themselves our hotel is an open air courtyard so you can imagine the fun when the heavy rain hits.
Shipping paperwork is finished, we think and we have a few days to wait with nothing to do except enjoy each others company and wander around old town which is indeed an interesting place inside fortified walls. Colorful plants dangle from balcony's high above the streets and big old wooden doors adorned with unique door knockers. What ever your taste, there is a dining experience awaiting in any of the numerous quaint restaurants tucked inside old stone buildings. Just walking the streets is fun or sitting in an outside cafe sipping on Colombian cafe tinto or con leche. Shopping! who said shopping?
We have a few extra steps to get Gillie's paperwork in order. We receive conflicting information from authorities who should know their business but don't. It is as though they are figuring it out for the first time. We trust someone and go for it.
Stuffing day arrives, which is the day we drive the vehicles into the container and seal it then it is ready to be loaded on the freighter. This is not a difficult process but for some reason on this day we hear the news that something went wrong and the stuffers do not have the paperwork. Communication and documents
between the agent and port failed.
Rescheduling results in our friends shipping to Miami and us shipping to Panama after another five day wait. This time we baby sat each step to be sure papers end up in the right hands on time. This new arrangement is better for our friends who find themselves under time pressure to get to Quebec.
The second attempt is successful and all that remains are the flights in a few days carrying us away from South America a vast and diverse land that we have been privileged to experience for the last fifteen months.
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