Well that’s it! We no longer have our bikes. They have been given to the shippers so they can crate them before going to the airport. From the very beginning of our whole adventure I had always wondered about getting across to Colombia. The road system has never been developed. How do you go on a road trip when there’s no road? Originally from Panama we explored options and found it was by sea, air or land. By land you would have to bash your way through the swampy jungles of Darian until you got to the border manned by guerillas. They would then decide where to put you so you wouldn’t be found. Not our first choice. The little boats that offer a three day crossing look like they’d sink as soon as two of our bikes were dropped on to them. Reports have been consistent about the seedy character of the port area where we would spend time arranging for shipping. The best option seemed to be by air and I couldn’t imagine how that would work. Well now I have a better idea although it will be from Miami that we’ll be leaving from and not Panama.
Before leaving home Space Cowboy did all the research exploring which shipping company would be willing to help us make our leap to our neighbouring southern continent. The best response he got was from an individual, Gaston Etchart, who actually showed an enthusiastic interest in our plans. We scanned and faxed our passport credentials, bike registrations and international driver’s licenses to him before leaving home so he could begin with his paperwork and we gave him an approximate date of arrival. We lucked out because our hotel near the airport is beside the BMW dealership, next to the Notary that will notarize our paperwork and within a mile of the place where we drop our bikes for shipping. Wow! Monday, we get the bikes serviced one last time on our turf. While that’s happening Gaston met with us. We walked over to notarize the paperwork $10.00, met with the shippers to arrange an appointment, lunched with Gaston while he poured over maps to indicate what in his opinion were must see places. That’s Gaston in the white russian pants.
After lunch we were back at the Motorcycles of Miami to pick up the bikes. They were all ready and rarring to go. They fixed The Big Easy’s performance problem (look out senoritas), and Dogcow’s electrical short is no longer an issue. They even provided an adapter to link Space Cowboy’s computer to our GS-911 diagnostic tool so we diagnosis our bike’s status’ in South America ourselves. Way to go Motorcycles of Miami! We enjoyed the rest of the evening in South Beach. Wingman, Florida personal guide showed up and drove us there where we stayed for dinner and drinks before heading home.
Tuesday, we had the bikes to the shipper at 9. We removed the mirrors and windscreens to fit them into the crates and walked away. The shippers take care of the rest. I was so glad that we were able to leave most of our stuff with the bike. Now, at the airport we will simply have to carry some clothes and valuables for the next 5 days. Way better than hauling around all our gear that has been packed on our trusted mules to this point. Back at the rooms we were on line booking flights to Cartagena, Colombia. Wow! We are at that surreal point where we’re actually saying goodbye to the customs and lifestyles so familiar to us to face the ‘Spanish Inquisition’.
The plan now is to spend 4 days or so in Cartagena while our bikes sit in Miami customs. When the bikes are finally ready to air cargo to Bogota we will catch a short flight ourselves to meet up with the machines once again. It’s going to be weird pulling those big heavy bikes off the luggage carousels. The alternative to flying to Bogota is a 20 hour bus ride which only saves us $25 in comparison with the plane. Easy choice. The next time I blog will be from South America. Hasta luego amigos!