Cartagena Cannons

Bode woke us up at 6am. He had fallen asleep for a few hours on the last of the bus rides the night before. Jason and I were exhausted and sore and spent a full day trying to recover from the boat ride. Back’s aching, we barely made it a few blocks just find another hotel.

Early the next day, Jason and Kyle headed to the port to see about getting our cars while Bode and I headed to the old town of Cartagena. It is a beautiful city, with lots of colorful Spanish colonial architecture. A stone wall and several fortresses surround the city, which is the highlight for any 5 year old. Bode loves pirates, cannons and forts so we walked all the way around the city.

Jason and Kyle didn’t get back until 6:30. They spent the day shuffling papers and waiting.
They waited at one place for 2 hours while they had closed for lunch, then another hour and a half once they opened to get a signature.

For some reason, Kyle carries his life insurance paperwork around with him. This, plus an orange safety vest and hardhat were required to enter the port. Jason had to hand over the keys to Kyle.

Once he got there, Kyle found that the container had already been opened. Since they had left their window open, Kyle and Jesse’s van (Wally) had already been pushed out. Kyle tried to start our bus, but the brakes seemed to be stuck. He went back to the waiting area to get Jason, and
after all that security checking,  Jason just put on Kyle’s hat and vest and security badge and walked right in.

Jason squeezed into the container and tried to back Red Beard out. It was stuck, like the brake drums had rusted to the shoes. He gunned it and the car began peeling out (back left wheel only.) Eventually, the wheel came loose and car shot backwards out of the container,
much to the amusement of the port workers.

The vans were now parked in the secured lot at the port, but there was more paperwork to tend to. We also learned we would be charged $25/day for container storage fees (since they couldn’t remove the car) and $4/day afterward for parking fees.

The next day, Jesse joined Bode and I at the Castillo de San Felipe De Barajas, a 17th century fortress that survived attacks by pirates and other adventurers. It had loads of dark winding tunnels to explore, but Jesse hid in a dark corner and scared Bode at the beginning, so
there was a little convincing that had to be done to get him to go in the rest of them.

It was damn hot out, and we returned to our air conditioned room and thought about the guys at the port in their required long pants and closed toed shoes. Until this shipping experience, I don’t think Jason has worn anything but flip-flops for 9 months.

It was dark, and I was out of cash.  I knew Jason was going to the ATM at the port, and when they left early that morning they assumed they’d have the car quickly.  Bode was hungry and we were down to the emergency raisins he hates. I’d connected with Jesse and was in the midst
of bumming some money to feed the kid when the guys walked in. Still, no cars but they were positive we’d have them first thing the next morning.

Confident, Kyle went ahead of us the next morning to get the vans. The rest of us followed with all our stuff about an hour later. The taxi ride took us about 30 minutes. Jason estimated they had spent about $50 USD on taxis going from customs to the port and back again over
the last 2 days.

When we got to the port, Kyle was waiting for us outside…without the vans.  Apparently, they needed a signature from another location. Jesse, Bode and I went to the waiting area while Kyle and Jason took off in the cab.  They were in a hurry to get back by noon, when the port closes for 2 hours.

Both Jesse and Kyle are awesome with Bode, and Jesse felt no need to keep the kid quiet in the waiting room. Literally everyone was in there waiting. There were huge glass windows along 2 sides of this room, all with workers behind them doing something, but not one person was
standing at them. So, soccer with a flip-flop was played, snowboarding videos were watched and no one seemed to mind that we spent 3 hours waiting there with all our stuff in a pile.

By 1 pm the guys had returned with the right signatures and left again to go get the “final” paperwork. By 3 pm we were finally driving out of the port and on the road.

So, if you are shipping a car to South America, count on 3 full days on each end. In total, all the port fees and paperwork in Cartagena added another $100 USD to the total. So, the total cost for us was $850 USD to ship the van. We did our research beforehand and we’re pretty pleased to get the car shipped to Colombia for such a ‘low’ price.

It was great to be back in the van and finally driving again – now on another continent!

One thought on “Cartagena Cannons

  • October 7, 2010 at 11:30 AM

    i like the picture of the headless guy in the waiting room.

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