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Panama to Ecuador via Colombia

For info regarding the Darien Gap car shipping check out the general info entry at the start of this blog.

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View Austin Texas to Argentina on hayden111's travel map.

Check out www.haydencarlyonphotography.com for more photos from the trip.

On Friday night we headed to the airport in Panama City to catch our flight to Bucamaranga in Colombia. I know, bucama.. who; I hadn’t heard of it either but there were no direct flights to Bogotá, so it was as close as we could get. The flight was scheduled to leave at 7pm, but was delayed until around midnight. By the time we arrived in Colombia and cleared customs its was after 2am.

There didn’t seem much point in staying at a hotel, so we took a taxi straight to the bus station and caught a 4am chicken bus to Bogotá. A painful 10 hour journey in a crammed bus, over 2 mountain ranges and through half a dozen military check points. At some of the checkpoints they actually took us off the bus and made us put our hands in the air while they padded us down.

One of the first things you do notice about Colombia is the overwhelming presence of the military police. They really are every where, especially in Bogotá. Which may have been a dodgy city in the past but after spending most of Saturday wandering around different areas of the city, I have to say it felt surprisingly safe. We nearly got robbed on Sunday night but that was mostly our fault.... a long story.

On Monday we took another night bus (a luxury bus this time) to Cali, 10 hours east of Bogotá. Cali has a pretty relaxed feel about it. With a strip of bars and cafes in the middle of the city, it has a much better vibe than Bogotá. After a long and entertaining night at the bars in Cali, we went to the airport to catch our flight to Manta in Ecuador; the port city the car was shipped to.

Our flight was delayed, again; for about 4 hours this time. It was a mad rush through the airport in Quito (capital of Ecuador) to make it through immigration and catch our connecting flight, which we only made by 5 mins. Unfortunately our luggage wasn’t so lucky. As the baggage carousel in Manta spat out its last piece of luggage we realized that we would be wearing the same clothes for a few more days.

Early the next morning we took a taxi to the port to pick up the car. Which as you can imagine is a lot easier said than done. It ended up being a 2 day, bureaucratic ordeal of red tape, paper work and a lot of sitting around waiting. I will spare you the details. Finally late on Friday afternoon when we had both ready to shoot someone we were allowed to drive the car out of the port.

It worked… Granted there was a lot of paper work and a massive amount of time wasted by antiquated, out dated systems and protocol, but there she was, just as we had left her in Panama. Not a scratch on her. To celebrate we decide to buy her some tinted windows for Christmas. $11 for all 5 windows.

Yesterday we drove 3 hours south to a small beach town on the pacific coast to relax for a few days before driving south to Peru. Ecuador is much more relaxed than Columbia, the people are friendlier and the food is a lot better.

Next week we will be in Peru then Bolivia and Chile. Apparently it is an incredible drive down the pacific coast then up over the Andes, where some of the roads reach 5000 meters. We may even get to drive along the road of death in Bolivia. Check it out on Google.

It definitely has been a challenging couple of weeks. It certainly is a lot easier and more relaxed traveling by car. But we knew that the shipping part of the trip would take a lot of time and effort, and now that the business side of things is out of the way we can continue on and enjoy the rest of the trip.

Merry Christmas everyone…

The cable car up to Montserrat church over looking Bogota
Alex checking out the local tallent
Some tasteful Colombian Graffiti: " I will be King"

Posted by hayden111 10:14 Archived in Colombia

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