There were times when I didn’t think I would make it, but I finally arrived South America.
No sooner had we docked in Cartagena, I got off the boat as quickly as possible and checked right in to the Hilton. I’d been hoarding hotel points for ages, and after my maritime trauma now was the time to burn a a bunch of them. I spent most of the first day sleeping off the accumulated exhaustion of the voyage and on the second day went back to the boat to offload the bike and clear the paperwork at customs.
The boat was moored out in the harbour so we had to winch the bikes on to a dinghy and bring them to a jetty and offload by hand. Tough work in the sweltering Caribbean heat!
Once the bikes were on dry land the next step was to sort out the import paperwork and get liability insurance. This took a long time, but we eventually got it sorted out. Now that the bikes were legally in the country we could finally get them washed to remove all the salt water they had been covered in during the crossing. Some of the bikes had serious electrical problems due to salt-water penetration and required extensive repairs. I was lucky to get off with a sticking ignition barrel. I foolishly left the key in the ignition during the sea crossing. Salt water got in the barrel, making it very difficult to turn the key. It was an easy fix, though. After putting some graphite powder in the barrel the problem was sorted.
No rest for the weary! It was a convoluted two day process to get the bikes off the boat and repaired/legalized. We’re finally done with the boat! Now, lets never speak of that unpleasantness again. Its time to explore the city!
Cartagena has it all. There is a modern section with all the comforts and convenience of an American city, and there is an old section with all the history and architecture of a European city. Combine these with great weather, afro- Caribbean culture, relatively low cost, it was a brilliant introduction to South America. The contrast between the deprivations in getting here and the luxuries to be found in this city was like day and night.
Here are a few photos and videos from my few days wandering around the city.
I had a very relaxing time here. Life was laid back and easy. Nothing to do but relax at the beach, walk the old town and meet up with my fellow passengers from the boat for dinner and drinks. At one point I seriously considered renting an apartment and staying here a few months, but quickly convinced myself that was the lazy option. All of South America lay ahead of me, so it was time to move on and see what I would encounter next…..