San Cristobal

Trip Start Jan 01, 2001
Trip End Dec 28, 2010

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Flag of Venezuela  ,
Monday, January 26, 2009

First thing today was to look for a post office, we had been told that their was one in town so we went to the tourist police to ask them. Today for some reason they were not there but we were told there was a post office in a side street by the main square. We drove in and found the square, parked up and then found that the post office was not a real post office and could only accept mail for inside the country. At that we gave up and drove to the border, which was only two kms away. Once again it was a case of parking up so that we could walk to find out what we had to do. The officials originally wanted us to drive the wrong way along a one way road to get to their office; when Mike declined they then decided that we should follow one of them on his motorbike. This we proceeded to do and eventually got outside the office. Here an official looked at the papers and asked another to take carbon copies of the VIN numbers as they had in Panama. It was all good fun since the main Vin number is only a stuck on printed form and that for the moped as we now know is hidden at the back of the front wheel. Mike explained that and told them that in Panama it took 5 hours to get it, taking panels off and so forth. At that they very nicely gave up; the first official filled in the form for us to leave and then told us we had to go into the main office to get our exit stamps in the passport and then we were free to leave, in all about 30 minutes to get out. We then drove over the bridge and since there was a height limitation that we were just on we decided to go into the lorry park first. After parking up we had the National Guard come over and do a physical inspection inside, then another one came with his drug dog and did another check inside and after we opened the outside lockers they checked those as well. Once that was finished it was OK to move the vehicle to another section of the parking lot whilst Mike went into the office to find out about the importation. As usual nobody spoke any English, but they did have a written guide in Spanish which explained that we needed the original and a copy of our passports, complete with the exit stamp from Colombia and the entrance stamp for Venezuela. The drivers licence, the registration documents and Venezuelan insurance. The last one we had, but apparently it was not good enough, we have some $45,000 worth of cover for a car accident, but we had to get the Venezuelan insurance which gives $1,500. In addition they do not give out the insurance for less that one year, this means that for one months driving in Venezuela we have had to pay out roughly 150 pounds for Kirsty 1 and 2. We also had to wait something like 2 hours to get it all arranged, at the first agency the computers were down and then we had to come back after lunch for the next. Whilst we were waiting we were able to walk the kilometre from the border into the centre of town to get our passports stamped and our tourist visa. Eventually we got all the paperwork together and presented it to the first officer again, this time the temporary importation form was filled out and then we were told it would be at least an hour before the Chief signed it. This meant it was just about 4.30, which is the time the office closes. In the end it was not delivered until 5.30, the officer had to sit around as did Mike for the extra hour. In the end it had taken just over 11 hours to get into the country. As it was now late we asked if we could stay in the car park but were refused so off we had to set looking for any place we could stop. It got later and later and was pitch black by the time we got to the outskirts of San Cristobal and stopped to ask the police where we could stop. They suggested 2 hotels that we would be able to park in and gave us directions. In the end we could not get into the entrance of either, at the second we turned off the main road to see if it had a side entrance. No such luck and now we had to go up a 30 degree hill as we could not turn round. In the end it was a good job we did because at the top was the University which had a huge car park, on asking they could not let us in but said we could park just outside the main gate, although we would have to leave at 6 in the morning. With a sigh of relief we ended our day at 8.30 at night.(N7.47.14.21 W72.13.44.92)
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