T – It was 8am sharp and we were straight in the door at customs. The lady we have been dealing with came out smiling which we all took as a good sign. The papers weren’t ready yet but if we came back at 10am then they would be finished. It seemed like a done deal.
We had a free breakfast with our hotel so we were quite happy to meander back and fill up on eggs, juice, toast and coffee while we waited. By time we had eaten and packed some of our clothes away in preparation for a swift escape, it was time to head back to customs.
We had to wait for a while longer as it was super super busy and we were a little ways down the queue. But then……
She came out with our documents. Stamped signed and dated and with a big X in the “Authorised”. Oh thank eff for that! We were free to ride south!
We went to a little cafe and I had a celebratory iced milo and cake! Then it was back to the hotel where we packed like mad so we could get on the road.
I then spent the next 20 minutes kicking the bikes but they refused to start. Rosie would grumble to life and then die as soon as I applied any throttle. Mabel was so mad at me for putting her on a boat in the middle of the ocean that she was still sulking and refused to even acknowledge my efforts to get her to run. Finally after draining the carbs and flooding fresh fuel into them and giving each carby a whack with the handle of a screw driver they both fired up on the first few kicks.
Riding away from the hotel was great. We were free again! We both had big grins and soon we were neck deep in the sphincter clenching crazy traffic of Cartagena. Bikes were the problem though. Those guys are crazy. They were zipping into the fast moving traffic without looking, riding up the wrong side of the road directly into oncoming traffic before shooting into gaps between trucks and buses. We saw them do U turns without slowing down or looking and watched as the traffic around them braked, swerved and screeched to a stop. We witnessed so many near head ons, bumps, scrapes and lockups that my head’s still spinning from it. Normally we get a sense of the order of the traffic but this was total and utter chaos! For the first time on this trip we actually feared for our own safety. Riders would pile past us with bare millimeters of space between us and the stare back at us while weaving across the road into oncoming traffic. It was frigging madness I say!
C – Today was really the first time I felt uncomfortable in the traffic. Central American traffic is crazy to be sure, but today in Cartagena it appeared every single biker was seeking an early death. On top of this the intensity of the sun, the humidity and the sheer number of cars and buses surrounding u left us both dripping with sweat and we were aching to be free of the traffic and moving at a speed which would allow us to cool down. Just as suddenly as the madness begun, we were free of the madness of the outer suburbs of Cartagena and on our way!
T – We both eventually tore ourselves away from the scrum and soon we were cruising down the road. It was stinking hot but we were very happy! We ended sitting behind a small convoy of trucks for a while and it turned out to be a good move. Some locals had set up a small road block with a piece of rope across the road and were waving a stop sign at everyone trying to get a toll. We sat right up the back end of one of the vehicles as the trucks honked and just kept driving. The rope was down and we all raced on by. If we had of bypassed the trucks I am sure they would have tried getting money out of us! Cheeky bastards.
C – Initially, the scenery was dry and scrubby, much like Panama, but after cruising through a few small villages the vegetation started to change and became a brilliant green. We crossed some wetlands and rivers and before we knew it, it was 4.30pm and time to look for somewhere to sleep the night.
T – We found a hotel in the town of San Juan where we were greeted with handshakes, big smiles and secure parking! Always the secure parking is most important. Then to top it all off, we were told by the young guy running the place that even though their restaurant was closed tonight he would order us some food from nearby and have it delivered. Total cost for a huge serving of hot fresh food, hand delivered to our room, $7.50. For the both of us!
C – The dinner he organised for us was amazing – a massive slab of beef with yucca, rice, beans and salad. I only needed half of it, but ate it all because it was so damn delicious!
T – Tonight I will sleep so well. I can feel it. Tomorrow we head for the town that time forgot, Santa Cruz de Mompos.