Hello from South America and Happy New Year!!! That's right, we've made it to South America. I know this may come as a surprise because our blog still says that were somewhere in Mexico, but in reality we are much further south. Part of our new year resolution is to keep up to date with our blog, so we're starting that right now. We're still going to write about and post about Mexico and Central America, those posts will just come as we complete them. Hold on tight, and enjoy as we take you with us on our adventure in South America.
We arrived in Colombia on December 27th 2017 on a flight from Panama to Medellin, Colombia. We had packed our beloved house/van into a shipping container a day prior, and for the first time on this trip, we slept in a hotel. Trying to save on baggage fees we had to fit our next weeks clothes into day bags, and head off to Colombia to await our van's arrival in Cartagena. We danced around from a bleach-wreaking hotel to an Airbnb, then to a hostel, until we could start the process of getting the van out of the port and into our hands. The van had arrived in Cartagena on Saturday the 30th, but due to the weekend and the holiday (January 1st) we couldn't start the process until Tuesday,January 2nd. The process of getting our vehicle out of port was a bit frustrating and time consuming for us, but luckily we were able to share our frustrations with our shipping partners Luke, Colleen, and their border collie Chama. Here's their rig happily resting in the container.
As you can tell, it was a tight fit for Donde. We had to have everyone stand on the back as well as let most of the air out of our tires to get the van into the container
For those that may not know, there is no road between Panama and Colombia. I know, it looks like they are connected when you look at your trusty globe, but it is impassable by car. This place is called the Darién Gap, it's just 45 miles or so, but there is no way through by car, and this is the reason we had temporarily part ways with our van.
Did we mention there was also tons of paperwork.
Luke, Colleen and Chama are so much more than just shipping partners to us, we actually met them 1500 miles to the north at Lake Atitlán in Guatemala. We had traveled with them for some time throughout Central America, and decided to meet back up and share the most complicated border crossing of our trip with one another. For those of you that have Instagram, check them out: @treschamigos.
Due to EPIC dog complications, Colleen and Chama had to hang back in Panama and wait for Copa Airlines Cargo to finish celebrating Christmas and the New Year, while Luke flew ahead to begin the extraction process with me. This process took us two days of running around the port filling out paperwork and giving people money. Everything was as expected and legitimate, it just wasn't fun.
At the end of the second day we found ourselves happily driving away from the port in Cartagena, but frantically looking for a place to buy car insurance. This would take us one more day, as insurance for cars with foreign licence plates is only sold from 8:00am to 12:00pm. On January 4th we were finally ready to hit the open road.
That night we found a spot to camp called La Pradera in a town, Turbaco, just 45 minutes from the port in Cartagena. It was like being home again, we pulled out our "kitchen" made a wonderful salad for dinner, and fell asleep on our own bed.
In the morning, we were greeted by the warm coastal sun, and humidity. It was time to find some mountains. It would take us two days to get to a "comfortable" altitude, but well worth it. That brings me to where we are right now, the Chicamocha National Park of Colombia.
We are camped at 5,000 feet with amazing views of the canyon below. There is a family that rents out cabins, and also allows people like us to pull up and sleep in our cars. We are still traveling with Luke Colleen and Chama, and really enjoying our introduction to Colombia.