Bogota madness !

Trip Start Jul 17, 2012
Trip End Nov 30, 2012

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Flag of Colombia  ,
Monday, September 17, 2012

    A girl we got chatting to on the plane (brother lives in Newcastle) suggested a restaurant in the Zona Rosa district of Bogota. First evening we got a cab into town and were met by a modern, safe, friendly area full of expensive shops, clubs, restaurants and shopping malls. No armed guards by the cashpoint and the cabbie didn't even kidnap us and demand our PIN numbers. Total 5 for a 20min ride. Andres DC is a well known restaurant and bar and was packed out even at 6pm. Really lively friendly place with an English speaking waitress. Treated ourselves to a massive steak - great food and it felt like the first time since Tucson I've been relaxed and really enjoying things. Next morning we knew we had a fun packed day in store - find out if bikes have arrived, collect them if they have and sort out our Colombian insurance. Cristina called Girag for us early and confirmed both bikes were waiting so the game was on ! If you have no interest in flying a bike into Colombia then you might want to skip the following paragraph however it might be of use to someone following our wheeltracks in the future.

    First step - get cab to Terminal Carga Internacional at Bogota El Dorado airport. Locate Girag - it's the second one marked as Girag as you head away from the main airport. Go in and go to far end of desk marked KLM/MARTINAIR etc - it's marked as Girag importaciones or similar. Get waybill copy and head directly opposite (2 min walk) to the new building housing the customs (DIAN). Go to 3rd floor room 310 and you will hopefully be shown to a desk in an open plan office where a customs official will process the temporary import paperwork. As usual registration and passport are needed. About an hour later you'll get 2 bundles of forms - one for you to keep and a near identical one which goes back to Girag. Hand in bundle at first desk in Girag - you'll then be ushered into their warehouse.

    As if by magic your bike will be wheeled into view - no pallet etc in sight. They'll mount a wooden ramp for the 4ft drop onto the car park - ride down it, sign acceptance form and you're off. If you need SOAT  - colombian insurance - ride along Av El Dorado after a mile take signs for Av Bayaca Norte. Once you join this road from the slip there is a fuel station 250yds further along - they will sell you SOAT in the office next to the shop. Cost us 30 for 3 months - if they claim they can only do 12 then get them to call head office as a lot of them are unaware of the procedure. Talking cash there are no payments to make regarding the bike import. We had delays with the SOAT due to computer glitches but were all legal and ready to ride by 1230hrs - I don't think you could have processed 2 bikes any quicker. If I've made this sound easy - it's not. The language barrier is a constant problem for us but we manage to muddle through somehow. Well, I say we - it's JB's stirling efforts to be honest. Back to the hotel to dry out our bike gear that we had left in the panniers damp - now slightly pongy and slightly mouldy in places ! Still, the sun was out so dried quickly.

    The weather definitely seems cooler - bit like back home. Bogota is at several thousand feet above sea level so that helps too. It's only been 3 days (again I doubt if anyone has beaten 72hrs ride in ride out with Girag over a weekend) but looking forward to riding the bikes again. After all that we still had time for a cab ride across Bogota to the BMW dealer Autogermana who are also a motorrad dealer. After carrying out a full inventory of their stock managed to get a mismatched pair of non knobbly tyres that fit. Price was equivalent to home and will give some piece of mind in the more isolated areas we are heading for in case we get a tyre issue. JB also managed to get some bolts to put his rear hugger back on which snapped a retaining bolt in Mexico. All in all probably our most productive day - plus we've seen a lot of Bogota from the back of a cab !
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Mark on

Guess you just want to go marching onwards...

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