Stories

 

Colombia - February & April 2012


From the 7th to the 9th of February, 2012

In order to pay the Colombian tolls, we changed 100 USD in pesos at the border. Fifteen minutes later, we realized that we just lost 30 dollars in the transaction. Anyway, we had no time to lose, we had to reach Bogota as soon as possible.

We followed our path through a beautifully green landscape made of hills. The scenery made us think about the Helvetic meadows, excepted a few details. Instead of Christmas trees, we could see yucas, palm trees or banana trees, which was more exotic than the country of Heidi. The road climbed, descended, turned and never stopped. Although past Popayan, we were entitled to three hundred kilometers of respite on a more or less straight road. Here large means are implemented for the cultivation of sugarcane. After filling the trailer of sugar canes, road trains hitching up to five trailers at a time, carry the canes to the mills. Needless to say we felt very small when over passing these monsters.

    

The second cordillera crossing between Armenia and Bogotá was endless. On the Panamericana, the country's main road, you had to be very patient. We followed some trucks at a speed of 20 kilometers per hour, avoiding overtaking vehicles coming straight at us, rocks falling from the mountain, driving carefully through land subsidence and trying our turn some risky overtaking, despite the succession of tight curves.

Although we had heard that the Colombian roads were like roller coaster, we were far from imagining that we would drive the 1150 kilometers between Quito to Bogota, at an average speed of 38 km per hour. Here, an itinerary is not calculated in distance but in time.

    

We finally arrived in Bogota, where our friends Juan Carlos, Catalina and their children Nicolas and Tomas, met on the island of Isabela where waiting for us. A few days earlier, from the Galapagos, we had contacted them to see if they knew a place to leave our vehicle in a safe place. A few days later, here we were, ready to leave our van in their garage for a period of 3 months. As our Brazilian friends, it was with great spontaneity that we were warmly welcomed by Juan Carlos and Catalina, happy to help. Unfortunately we didn't have much time to spend together, since our flight was scheduled the following day.

Our stay in Bogotá was also an opportunity to see Francisco. Aless and Francisco met in Jerusalem, Israel in 2000 and have traveled for over a month to Egypt, where their paths separated. They had lost contact, before reconnecting by email a few years ago. After twelve years, great minds met again on the birthplace of Francisco and his wife Adriana.

As for Ecuador, we crossed Colombia without having the opportunity to know the secrets of the country. We have to leave unknown spaces to visit within our retirement...

After 144 hours of traveling, Geneva welcomes us with a small -10°C.

    

BACK IN SWITZERLAND: A brainstorming to be solved in Colombia.

With 90 days of temporary importation for the vehicle in Colombia, there wasn't much flexibility. While we were in Switzerland, we had to think about the future, and quickly.

Sell our van in Colombia? Send it to Mexico by boat? Send it in Europe and import it in Switzerland?

To be continued ...


From the 3rd to the 16th of avril, 2012

After further research, the decision is made, Zorro will sail to Europe.

The 3rd of April, Aless flew to Bogota thinking he would escape from his birthday as he always does. It was accompanied by Adriana having her birthday the same day, and Francisco that he shared this day with their family.

    

The van started and was ready to continue the journey across Colombia. In two days, he drove the 1100 kilometers between the capital city and Cartagena, passed lot's of military checkpoints, where no-one seemed interested by our vehicle.

    

With Luis Ernesto's services, the formalities at the port where very easy. While waiting for the vessel arrival, Aless spent a few days at the Hotel Bellavista, a transit point for travelers. Chris, Hervé and Louana expected their camper from Panama. Five vehicles were going to be loaded onto a vessel to Panama, three of them would change ships to go to Belgium. Among the vehicles to Panama, the 4x4 of Josiane and Jean-Marie, met a few months earlier in Lima.

    

Aless also met Vero, traveling with Dream, her dog and Scani, her 9 meters long and 29,9 tones truck which was expected to arrive in Houston soon. Her story seemed familiar. Maybe because it was the same person Martine and Jean-Jacques talked about during our last encounter two months earlier in Geneva. We are living in such a small world…

    

We have been waiting for our paths to cross for a long time. It is in the beautiful colonial city of Cartagena that Aless finally met Thierry, our former colleague who caught the travel bug almost a year earlier. Unfortunately the timing did not allow spending time together, but this is only a postponement.

    

It was time for the anti-narcotic control, the ultimate step before wishing a safe trip to Zorro, leaving the American continent for a transatlantic aboard a RORO ship. See you in three weeks in Zeebrugge where we hope to find you in the same shape...

Click here to read the following story in Europe.

See the album "Colombia - February & April 2012"