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April 28th, 2012 | Colombia

Five Down, One to Go…!!

Bogota, Colombia, is my final stop in South America… On Monday morning, at dawn’s crack, I will fly to Panama to begin the final leg of my journey around the world… I will have spent exactly 100 days in South America, visited 9 countries and ridden 22 150 km on this continent…

Livardo of Lyncargo, accompanied me to the airport, and did all the necessary paperwork... His English is on par with my Spanish, so we had a few interesting conversations as you can imagine...!!

Parked outside the cargo terminal... Our ride in South America was at an end...

Today, I spent the entire day getting the Big Fella through Custom’s clearence and Police Inspection, in preparation for his flight to Panama City…

It took barely two hours of actual “work”, and nine hours of waiting…!! The latter is not something I do very well, but it does not pay to annoy the petty officials, who have the ultimate say in exactly when you will have your bike shipped or cleared…!!

A few years ago, I would have been ranting and raving to get things moving in the time that I wanted them done…!! Today, I proved to myself that not only have I become a more patient individual, and learned to take things in my stride, but I have also come to accept that I cannot manage or control every situation I find myself in…

I spent many hours turning this fact over in my mind, and came to realise that I am mentally stronger than I used to be… Sure, I still mutter to myself and others about the delays etc, but they no longer affect me in the way they used to…

I am both older and a teeny bit wiser…!! Nine hours in a three year journey is no great shake, after all…!!

This does not mean that I now see myself as a “laid back” individual…!! The need to do things as quickly and efficiently as possible will always be a part of who I am, but I no longer get too excited when things do not flow in the direction that I want them to…!!

I was at the freight agents we had chosen, by 9.00am… To ensure that I got there without any fuss, Adrian guided me through the traffic, riding his sccoter, while I follwed behind on the Big Fella… Lyncargo S.A.S., is located just a few kilometres from the cargo terminal of Bogota’s International Airport, and has just moved to brand new premises, where most of the office space is yet to be occupied…

I spent many hours sitting on the bike, listening to music and mulling over the last few months in South America...

The company has shipped bikes all over the world and the general manager, Veronica Oviedo, had handled Fabio and Tomasso’s paperwork the previous day, and had everything ready for my shipment when I arrived… It took barely half an hour and two cups of coffee, before her assistant, Livardo and I where ready to take the bike to the airport…

That’s when the waiting began… If you are flying a bike from Colombia, be prepared to spend one full day getting it all sorted…!! Although the new cargo section of the airport is both modern and efficient, it is extremely busy, with trucks arriving to offload goods for shipment every few minutes…

I would have liked to add Venezuela to my list of flags, but time was fast becoming my enemy....!! There is however enough space left on the pannier for the next ten countries I will still visit, which will take my total to 101...!!

Security is tighter than a duck’s rectum, and before entering any official area, you are frisked by security guards, your cell phone and camera put into a locker, and you are then followed by multiple CCTV cameras as you walk through the cargo area…

I ended my ride in South America with a tricky little entry into the cargo warehouse...!!

While Livardo went to clear customs, I had to wait outside on the vast concrete apron… By noon, customs had cleared the bike to fly to Panama… The final hurdle was the Police Inspection…

But first I had to ride the bike up a narrow wooden gangway that took me up from the concrete loading area and into the cargo warehouse…

I had my heart in my mouth as I roared up the ramp, nearly colliding with a pallet of bananas that was being moved about on a pallet trolley…

I rode the bike into the warehouse, refusing to push it as instructed… When the customs and security official saw the weight of the bike after I had ridden it onto the scale, they understood my refusal… The bike and most of the gear on it, together weighed in at a hefty 340 kg…!!

And that is without a drop of fuel inthe tank…!! While I have been steadily losing weight over the past few weeks, the Big Fella seems to have picked up a few kilos along the line, this despite me having sent a 4 kg parcel home from Lima…!!

I was not about to give myself a hernia pushing the heavy bike a few hundred metres around a warehouse, and rode up to the fenced off area where the police inspection takes place, under the scrutiny of dozens of cameras…!!

Fabio and Tommaso were flying to Miami, and their inspection had been very thorough… With Colombia being the world’s top producer of Cocaine, and smuggling the drug out of the country rife, it is understandable why security here is so tight…

I was told that because I was going to Panama, my bike would not be subjected to such a stringent inspection, which proved to be correct…

Problem was, that I had to wait another eight hours before the police finally inspected the bike…!!

Safely parked inside the customs warehouse... This photo got me into a lot of trouble, and my camera was taken away from me until after the police inspection...!!

Baby Bananas bound for Amsterdam...!!

I spent those eight hours wandering in and out of the cargo area, chatting to the fruit exporters, and even helping move pallets around…

They showed me the various fruits that were being exported, some of which I had never seen before… There were large orange Granadillas, Baby Bananas, strangely shaped tomatoes, and Tangerines…

A large tray of the various fruits were on hand to share with the cargo handlers, to help smooth their respective pallets through the clearing process… Because I had become a “fixture” on the scene, the farmers also shared their fruit with me…

Occasionaly, drivers would approach me with their paperwork, and babble away in Spanish, until I explained that I did not work there, and directed them to to person they needed to see…!!

I became quite freindly with many of the forklift drivers and cargo handlers, who all did their best to speed up the inspection, but without much success…

Some I recognised, others not...!! The little green things are a species of Guava....

I spent the hours either dozing on the front steps, or thinking about my ride through South America, going through the various highlights of my trip, and coming to terms with the fact that I had now completed my rides on five continents and the last one was just over the horizon…!!

I looked at the various stickers that I had collected from the last two continents I had ridden on, and wished that I had been able to spend more time riding in South America… It felt as though I had some “unfinished business” here…

I certainly would have liked to see more of Brazil, and most definitely more of Colombia…!!

I watched the shifts change as the night staff began their duties at 6.00pm… This facilty operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week…!!

We had earlier in the day been told that the inspection would take place at 4.00 pm, then that was postponed to 6.00 pm, and finally, at 7.30 pm, my name was called and the inspection began…

I had to remove every pannier and bag from the bike to have it x-rayed, and then had to unpack my duffel bag, because the spare shock-absorbers had attracted the interest of the lady operating the scanner… Once they were satisfied that all was well, I put all the bags back onto the bike, and the plastic wrapping began…

It was well after dark before I was called forward for the inspection process... I had waited nine hours for the honour...!!

The cargo handler used an entire roll of cling-film plastic to wrap the bike up in… I have no idea how they are going to move it around the warehouse, when it comes time to load it into the plane…!!

While taking the windshield off, I dropped the special nut that holds it to the bike frame… I heard it rattle around somewhere under the headlight console, but try as I might, I could not locate it…

I can only hope that it does not fall out while in transit, otherwise I am going to have a problem attaching the windshield to the bike, when I get to Panama…!!

Apart from that, I can only hope that come Monday morning, I will be reunited with my bike, and find that it has been handled with the care my long suffering companion deserves…!!

Livardo very kindly offered to give me a lift on the back of his scooter, all the way to Adrian’s home…

It was the first time that he had ridden about using a GPS, and at every traffic light he would turn around to stare at the screen which I held tightly in my left hand, while hanging on for dear life with my right…!!

Many of the roads in Bogota are filled with potholes and cracks, and Livardo jinked around them, and in and out traffic, seemingly unaware that I was being thrown from side to side behind him…!!

My final ride in South America actually turned out to be on the back of a sccoter, wearing a helmet that did not quite fit me...!!

He was very impressed by the device and seemed to enjoy the benefits of taking the most direct route to our destination…!! He mentioned later that he would have taken a much longer route to get to the address we needed…

By the time I got to Adrian’s house, it was after 9.00 pm… It had been a very long day, but at least the bike was on it’s way to Panama, and my North American ride could begin in a few days time…

Just as I was enetering the premises of Adrian’s apartment building, I saw Fabio and Tomasso approaching…

Adrian’s sister who lives just around the corner had very kindly offered to host them while we were in Bogota…

“Did you just get back now…??” they asked…

I explained to them just how frustrating a day I had been through, and we immediately decided that a cold beer was in order…!!

We found a small bar just around the corner and chatted about our respective days… They had had a wonderful time touring Bogota and it’s surround with Diana, Adrian’s wife, and had seen all the sights of the city…

Thay had also made plans to visit a town outside the city with Adrian’s sister and fiance the following day, and although I would have liked to accompany them, I wanted to try and bring my website up to date before I arrived in Panama, and decided to spend the weekend doing just that…!!

We agreed to meet for breakfast the next day before they left on their trip, and I made my way to a hot shower and a warm bed… Adrian and Diana had already left to visit her family for the weekend, leaving their apartment in my tender care…

Before falling asleep, I thought about the route through Central America that I had planned, and considered the various warnings I had received over the past few weeks, from people who had either visited there, or ridden through the corridor that joins North and South America…

I also thought about the final leg of my South American tour that was now behind me…

3rd and Final Leg of my South America is complete... This one, a mere 6 250 km, making 22 250 km in total...!!

It had been a great ride, and possibly the most testing of all the continents I had ridden on so far…

©GBWT 2012

 

4 comments to Five Down, One to Go…!!

  • Charmz

    And what a great trip you have had in South America. We have thoroughly enjoyed this continent with you. Pity you could not stay longer and visit Venezuela. Time is not on your side…..Alaska awaits but the snow doesn’t. Happy to see you sitting so calm on Big Fella awaiting the inspection. The DD did not emerge! This Round the World Trip has worked wonders for you….think it’s my turn; would you allow Big Fella to take me? 🙂 🙂
    Safe passage to Panama and do try and see a bit of Bogota before Monday.
    Love and miss you,
    Dad, Mom and Charmz

  • Hell ,your account brings back memories of a similar wait i had at the freight section last year and that ride up “the plank”.
    It doesn’t look that precarious in the photo but the thought of coming off it on the way up had me flying into that warehouse.I’d weighed in at 337kg with my 1150 GSA.
    Not sure whether you’ve purchased your ticket to Panama yet but a little advice.Check whether you need a return ticket?
    I know that sounds crazy but i’d purchased a single ticket to Panama and went straight to the airport that night to catch a very early flight the next morning.
    When it came time to board the next day i was refused and told i had to purchase a return ticket.No amount of logic or showing of my bike freight papers would convince them that i wasn’t coming back but heading north to the States.In the end i missed my plane ,booked onto a flight that afternoon and had to go off to the AVIANCA head offices to purchase ANOTHER return ticket.I was assured that i’d get my money back in Panama for the return ticket.
    It took me 2 days in Panama to eventually recoup most of my ticket price of $400.GO FIGURE!!
    Hope you don’t have the same problem.

  • Mark Behr

    Another chapter – great ride! Look forward to the next few weeks.

  • I’m proud of you Ronnie for the paragraph on patience, Id say that your trip has taught you well, life becomes so much easier when you learnt the art of letting go, congrats.

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