The Mexigonia Weekly

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Part II: Cartagena, Colombia

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Braden, Elizabeth, Josu, Ana and Carlos woke up in Colombia’s beautiful and historic port town of Cartagena. They grabbed their paperwork and headed over to Barwil’s office to start the process of disembarkation of their vehicles. Little did they know that this process would consume the next three days due to signatures, copies, and lunch breaks.

At Barwil they would have some copies made, and head to the bank to pay a port fee. They returned to Barwil to leave a deposit on the container, in case it was damaged or dirty. They then headed to the customs office, in another part of town, to get some paperwork to import the car. They had to return after the office reopened from its two hour lunch break, in order to get paperwork, copies and signatures. Then they headed to the port.

“You need a pass card to enter the port,” some port officials told us.

“You need to show proof of insurance to get a pass card.”

“Our pass cards don’t work,” we had to inform the officials more than once.

“There is a different pass card to enter the office of the port, and the actual port.”

“Only the owners of the vehicles can enter the office and port.”

These were just some of the initial hoops that the five foreigners had to jump through just to speak to a representative about their vehicles.

During the next hours, they would run back and forth from one office to another, making copies, paying fees, fixing pass cards, and waiting for lunch to be over. They would have to return the next day.

“You just have to wait,” Ms. Pianeta informed the Traveling Five, as they were eager to get to the next step of the process. They would ask at one window, and were told they were waiting for Ms. Pianeta. Another representative would say the same. It then became clear that this Ms. Pianeta was not exactly working on their behalf, and so tension arose. Ms. Pianeta quickly earned her nickname as “la Bruja” (the witch) among the Traveling Five.

After filling out some paperwork, and handing in their copies, Carlos, Elizabeth, Josu and Ana were standing before la Bruja, awaiting her next verdict.

She looked at Carlos’ copy of his passport. “Your face is too dark, I need another copy.”

She looked at Elizabeth’s form. “This number 8 is not legible, you have to fill it out again.”

She looked at Ana standing by Josu. “Your wife can’t be here, only the vehicle’s owner.”

Their impatience was growing, but after a few minutes they were finally allowed into the port for their vehicles. Josu, Carlos and Elizabeth followed a couple of port workers to their containers. They were finally reunited with their vehicles! Josu climbed on top of his camper and through the window in order to reach the driver’s seat. He pulled it out of the container, revealing a much smaller Rocinante. Rocinante had some trouble starting and so Elizabeth and some port workers just pushed her out of the container. Carlos also received his car with no problem. Then, just as the three owners were geared up to take their vehicles out of the port, they were informed that they only had permission to take them out of the container, not the port itself. They would have to go back to see la Bruja!

“You have to pay a fee to leave the port,” she told them all.

They walked over to the proper window, paid their fees, received a receipt, handed it in in return for the appropriate paperwork, and returned to la Bruja once again.

“Only the owners can go pick up the cars, and only one at a time. Remember that we’re only open until 6 pm, so if you’re quick, you can all get your cars today,” she told them casually, after they had already spent hours and hours in this process.

One by one, the owners of the three vehicles went back into the port to drive their cars out. Josu got the camper, Carlos got his Taurus, and Elizabeth waited. Her name was not in “the system.” Now “the system” had been controlling certain decisions all day, and this time, it said that Elizabeth could not enter the port. Apparently, a payment was missing because of the nature of the shared container between Josu and Elizabeth. And then it was 6 pm. She would have to come back the next day.

In the morning of day four of leaving the port, Elizabeth paid her fee and headed for the port gate. She headed for her car, where the port workers attended to her. She told them her frustration and they quickly got her paperwork together and led her to Rocinante. Elizabeth knew that Rocinante was ready to leave the port because she started right up on the first try. She pushed her out of the parking space (because reverse gear is not working) and headed for the gate. She handed in her paperwork, complete with stamps and signatures and went to pick Braden up at the office in front.

As Elizabeth pulled up with Rocinante, this signaled the completion for the Traveling Five. Aptly, Josu raised his arms and let out a huge, “Por fin!” (“Finally!”). And that is how Rocinante crossed the Caribbean Sea and arrived in Cartagena, Colombia, ready to take on South America!