Sunday, November 14, 2010

Day 34 - Bogota

Today was a very good day.  First thing, off to get our steeds (bikes to you foreigners) out of the shipping warehouse at Girag.  We got there about 8:30, and were told we needed to go to customs to obtain the documentation and inspection to release the bikes.  We were told we needed 2 copies of the bill of lading, passport, bike registration and photocopies of our Immigration stamps.  This can be done around the corner a couple of doors down.  Cool. Oops, they were closed.  The photocopy lady was not there, so we had to go across the 4-lane highway to the airport to get our copies. Got our copies and dodged traffic on the way back, across the road, sat down with the customs officer (who, by the way was an extremely nice, elderly lady) and 2 hours later our bikes were free to roam the roads of Colombia.  No fees, no obligatory insurance, nothing.  Wow. 

We walked back to the Girag shipping docks, handed in our papers, signed another paper and were off to the warehouse.  There they were!!!  The bikes made it safely and in one piece from Panama via aircraft.  Reconnected our batteries, got our stuff organized and tested the bikes before we put everything back together.  RobC's bike ran really, really rough.  Couldn't figure out what was going on.  In the mean time, I noticed the rear overhead door to the warehouse was open and outside was a cargo plane.  Cool, maybe we will get to ride out onto the tarmac and around the building to the road.  but no, they had a makeshift wooden ramp to ride down off the loading dock.  Problem was it didn't sit flush with the floor so they put a pallet in front of it with another piece of wood in front of that as a mini ramp to get onto the skid.  Rob and I looked at each other .... You've got to be kidding!  ...  Yup, we rode down the steep and rickety ramp.  Everyone stopped what they were doing and gathered around to watch and see if a couple of gringos would fall off the ramp.RobC rode down a bit crooked because his pants were tangled around his foot peg, but other than that the big beasts made it down safely.

That done we rode back to the hotel.  We stored our bikes for the night at a local car wash 3 blocks away.  We decided they needed a good cleaning too.  We knew the place was safe as it was surrounded by a 10 ft wall with barbed wire stuck to the top and 2 controlled gates.  These guys were incredible!  The wash bays were all outdoor and each had a lift, like you would find in a mechanics shop.  There were cars up on the lifts with guys washing the underside by hand!!

I got a haircut and RobC had a pedicure and manicure.  He was loving it!  (Edit by RobC:  These are the affordable South American frills I remember.)

We ended up in the old part of town again looking for a pub that a guy the previous night mentioned, The "Beer Classic Pub."  It was on the corner of Carrera 19 and Calle 7.  The cab ride in was interesting in the fact that we passed some very questionable areas of town.   Well, depends what you're looking for.  The street was closed off to traffic and there must have been ten thousand people if there was one.  Later we found out that the locals call this Friday night stroll "el septimato" (the Seventh street stroll).  All kind of goods for sale from any possible electronic charger, stuffed animals, food, artists, plastic dollar store type toys, clothes, carpets, etc, etc.  Lots of street performers and games, as well as marching bands providing peppy music.  Wow.  We had a great second story vantage point from the pub.  Floor to ceiling glass and we had the corner table.

That's a marching band crossing the busy 4 lane street.

This lady was selling phone time on a wired cell phone which was tethered to her.

After a couple of beers and a ton of people-watching we searched for some food.  As we were getting further away from all the "chaos", we noticed the crowd was gone and "street people" started becoming more prevalent and the surrounding became increasingly questionable.  We hailed a cab. The cab driver questioned where we were going before unlocking the doors and letting us in.  Okay, so that's the type of neighborhood we were in. :-)

Tomorrow we leave Bogotá - enough of the city, got to see the country!


  1. This is Adriana, Gaby's friend. Guys, my university is very close to the pub that you mentioned-Universidad de los Andes- and yes, that is NOT the nicest part of town, specially at night!!!Im glad you enjoyed it and that you did not have any problems. Again, very happy that my people are making your experience pleasent and interesting. Cant wait for your next blog :-)

  2. I'm still chuckling at you getting a manicure and pedicure, didn't know you were that kind of a guy haha. You know it will be ruined a few miles down the road with the dust and mud, especially if you do one of your graceful dump-the-moto routines!! BTW, what is the count for that? Is Rob T or you winning? Glad you enjoyed Bogota and wish you lots of fun and safe ride the next few days.

  3. To Funny... I have never heard of my dad getting a manicure and pedicure. Wow.. Good for you dad, you deserve that after a month in the saddle.

  4. Dear Rob C & Rob T: These are Sonia & Ricardo Nice meeting you in VdeL. We hope you enjoy your ride on the roads of Colombia.Medellin is a beautiful city. You have to try there the BANDEJA PAISA (Traditional food)
    We will be following up on your journey through this blog.
    I admire you both for what you are doing. Go ahead...

  5. Adriana - we are enjoying every moment of your country. Villa de Leiva was incredible and the road to Bucaramanga is motorcyclist heaven. You'll be hearing about it and seeing the pictures.

    Phyllis - you know I like the attention and reaching my toe nails is not easy these days. I stopped at the polish, though. :-)

    Mig - a good massage is going to be next.

    Ricardo & Sonia - thanks again for the annotated map and your great help. The ride to Bucaramanga was incredible, not a straight piece of road in 250 km. Excellent!!

    Wewill certainly try the Bandeja Paisa. Right now we are in Puerto Berrio on the Magdalena river, a nice, lively town.

    Best, RobC