Wednesday, September 26, 2012

On Two Wheels - Finally

After posting the write up below, I thought I would take a minute and explain everything else that has happened.  We made it to Cartagena with really no significant issues.  We were staying at the Casa La Fe.  I guess we were so excited we didn't take any pictures of the Hotel, the owner or anything.  We did go to dinner with Ed and had an engaging discussion about the world in general.  Great meal!  Here we are, try to ignore the goofy picture of me, I don't know what the hell I was doing!

Ed, Joe and Chuck - left to right
We did visit the Castillo de San Filipe.  Quite a sight.  It was very hot but that did not take away from the amazing construction and significant size of the castle.  Here are a couple pictures.
Castillo de San Filipe from a distance
View of the entrance from the top
Canon on the upper wall
Based on the advice of Jeff the owner of Casa La Fe, after leaving the Port we decided to travel  through downtown Cartagena to get to the more scenic Ruta 90A.  Traveling through the city wasn't as bad as we anticipated, I actually enjoyed it a little bit.  It's sort of like playing frogger (if you remember that game), only we were in one of the vehicles that ran the frog down :-).  We left the city going north, stopped for lunch at a Subway, mainly because it had started to rain.  I took this picture from Subway, does anyone see an iPhone lying on the ground?

More to come!

Documenting the Muelles El Bosque Entry

I am going to try to document as best I can the process for retrieving shipped cargo from the port.  If you will NEVER need to do this, or don't care to hear the story of two bumbling illiterates, then may be you can just skip over this part.  :-)  We officially began the process of retrieving the bikes from the port on Monday, September 24th, 2012.  We arrived at the port around 9:30a.  Yeah I know, it is rather late, but we are getting into the Latin America swing of things.  Unfortunately, the DIAN Inspectors arrive promptly at 8:00a.

Chuck is posting more information on his write up over on Adventure Rider:

We shipped through SeaBoard, whose ship, the Colleen arrived at Muelles El Bosque (muyes el bos'key) the week before and the cargo (our bikes) unloaded there on the docks. Okay so here is the first tip, this is a two day activity, don't even expect to get it done in one.

Allow some extra time, because apparently the taxi drivers in Cartagena have no idea how to find an address or read a map.  Learn the words "izquierda" (left) and  "direcho" (right or straight sometimes .. go figure?); straight can also be "recto".  And then bring your GPS or Smartphone and give them directions.  Allow a few extra minutes for the cab driver to randomly stop, ask a random individual if they speak English, have a brief conversation about "what?", nobody knows, then laugh and take off again to look for the next likely street candidate who may speak English.  Seriously, about five times in one cab ride.

Anyway, to get to Seaboard you must go through security at Port Operations:

Operadores Portuarios
Muelles El Bosque,
Pedro Velez # 48-14
(GPS N10' 23.745" W075' 31.393)

Go into the operation office, to the window present passport and ask to go to Seaboard.  They may also ask to see your bill of lading.  They will take your passport and give you a badge.  Go through security with your badge, turn left, go into the second security building and ask for SeaBoard.  You will go through the turnstiles and they may escort you through the security gates (two of them) or they may not.  If not you will have to coat tail through the gates when some else goes through.  Once through the two security gates, SeaBoard is the last building entrance on the left (see above).  Ask for Jesus, he is in IT but will help with the English.  You just got to love those IT guys, they are the smart ones :-)!

If your cargo is there, Seaboard will stamp your Bill of Lading and you now must go to DIAN in Manga to obtain your Tourist Vehicle Temporary Import (another taxi ride).  The rates range for taxi's from 6,000 to 10,000 pesos ($3.33 to $5.55 US).

Adunanas DIAN
Manga 3A, Avenida 28 No 25-76
(GPS N10' 24.578" / W075' 32.044")

Enter the first building, explain yourself to the receptionist if one is there, ask for Sandra.  Otherwise simply walk through the small barrier behind the reception area (and the guy with the very big gun).  Go back six or seven rows of desks and you should find Sandra.  Sorry I am not more clear here, but once you find the right person it has only begun. Try to explain yourself and you will be given a form to complete.  Make sure you get the RIGHT form and not the returning vehicle form.  We spent an hour filling out the wrong form, getting it stamped and collated only to find out we had to go through it again.  By the way, I cast no dispersion on DIAN, we had similar issues in Houston with Customs.

There is a little deli at DIAN where you can get some water, etc.  

Once you have the form, properly completed and authorized the DIAN agent (Sandra or someone else) will let you know when the paperwork will be back at the Operations Center in Muelles El Bosque, usually it will be the next day.  Now would be a good time to go get your SOAT required Colombian liability insurance.  You will need a copy of your Passport and your Title.  The best place we found was Suras / Sura east across street from the Zapatos Viejos statue.

After 18a on Calle 30 between the Chevy and Renault dealerships
(GPS N10" 25.248' W75" 32.232')

They will sell you a 3 month policy.  Most places say that a one year policy is the minimum.  Our policy was about $50 US per bike (999cc) for a 3 month policy.

The next day, return to the Operations Center at Muelles El Bosque to find the inspector.  Best to get there by 8:00a because the DIAN inspectors go to the docks at 8:00am and 2:00pm to do inspections.  Missing 8:00a and taking the 2:00p will probably mean another day to clear customs.  Once arriving at the Operations Center they may tell you to go back to the security building wait for the inspector.  TIP2: Don't do it, go to the Centro de Documentos building as you leave the entrance building.  First building on the right.

Now, here is the best tip I have for this whole process  TIP3: at the second window at the left as you enter the building, ask for Andre Bustamante (Servicio Al Cliente).  She will give you a form in English on what has to happen next, help you with payment of port fees and help you finding the inspector.  Without Andrea, it would have taken at least another day to get things done.  Our port fees were about $55 US per bike. In addition we had to pay the locals about $30 to uncrate the bikes.

Once you are ready to ride out of the port, don't put up your paperwork.  After we cleared the port there was a customs official and a police officer who wanted to see our documentation.  You will just have to unpack it again.

Total cost to ship bikes:  $3,213.00
Shipping:                                                           $2,368.00 US
Crating: Still unsure at this time but we estimate:    $700.00 US
DIAN Port and Uncrate:                                      $145.20 US

Running to and fro to do your own paperwork:    PRICELESS

Saturday, September 8, 2012

On Your Marks ...

Going Away Party

So we invited a few friends to a little mom and pop Mexican restaurant we frequent.  We have known Javier and his wife Isaella for some time.  They own a small place called Mr. Sombrero's here in League City.  Here are a few pictures:

The bikes are being loaded on the boat heading for Colombia.  They should ship out September 14th and arrive in Cartagena on the 20th.  We fly to meet them on the 21st.  We were not able to take pictures at the docks due to restrictions so here are a few while they are in the crates at the crate builders.

So here is a typical traveler in Houston.  I think his name was Jed and barely kept his family fed.  I saw him on I-45 while heading to meet Chuck.  I honestly don't know how he kept some of this stuff on the truck.