After spending a first day running around the harbour area we were full of good hopes to be able to get the car back today. We had our appointment with the customs inspector planned for 8:00am, so we jumped in the taxi at 7:00am and went to the find the container! We’ll do a proper write-up of what it takes to locate your container in Cartagena, but I can tell you it involves speaking to a lot of people, going back and forth from the document centre to the operations centre, getting hold of a hard hat and then – magically out of nowhere – spotting a blue container in the distance! When we arrived at the container, the seal was already broken and a guy started to untie the cars!
We got the green light to drive the cars out of the container to the inspection area. Patrick was very happy to reclaim the driver seat, though getting into the car proved a bit more difficult than getting out!
By that time it was already 8:30am, but everyone assured us that the inspector was on the way. We waited near the cars but 2 hours later we had not seen anyone – except a guy who said that he was indeed an inspector, but not the one for our car. We checked with the operation centre, with the shipping company and the document centre – but no one had seen the inspector. After a few phone calls it became clear that the cars however had been inspected – and that they had been cleared by customs. I still don’t understand how exactly that happened, but it did. We got in another taxi to the customs office (conveniently located in the city centre..not!) and got our paperwork for the car sorted, stamped and copied. With the official release papers in hand, we could have headed straight for the cars, but as everyone is on a lunch break from 12:00 to 2:00pm, we had to wait 2 hours more.
After the lunch break we were told to get one more stamp from the shipping company so we ran over to get that one. With finally all the documents and stamps we headed back to the cars. There the foreman stamped our documents once more (why not, one more stamp does not hurt) and we could drive out of the port. FINALLY! Our papers were checked on the way out by port security and the police. The nice police officer welcomed us to Colombia with a big smile – that has to be the first time that a border official actually welcomed us! – and we drove back to the hostel.
We cannot begin to explain how happy we were to have this shipping process over and done with. In principle, the process is not so complicated. In practice, it needs a lot of stamps (did not count), taxi rides (9 in total), security checks to go in & out of the port, waiting, paperwork, … but it worked out in the end.
At the end of the day, we parked Rodrigo close to the hotel and had pizza to celebrate! Today’s blog post song was playing in the background, which put a smile on our face. Maybe you will recognise it too!
Help, ayuda me!
En tu amistad he puesto toda mi fe
Help, ayuda me!
Y tiende me la mano de un hermano