Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Day 85 - Bogata - Panama airport, cargo terminal

 Distance travelled (by bike): 9730

An early flight leaving bogata, that meant been at the airport at 5am. Having been out the night before, i wasn't in the best of moods. After a heated debate with the check in woman i managed to convince her that a motorbike helmet was not dangerous and does classify as handheld luggage. I was luck enough to be singled out to have a full body scan, having seen the screens it leaves nothing to the imagination, i felt like i should have struck a pose for the four guards watching the screens, instead i did as i was told and was rolled through the scanned on a conveyer belt. 
Arriving at Panama i jumped in a taxi to the cargo terminal. It was now 9am. It was very hot and very humid, bike gear was not the best clothing to be wearing. After locating the office, queuing for what seemed an eternity, when i was only 45 minutes  i was given a wedge of papers with instructions to get them stamped by customs, police and some random office i couldn't translate. This would have been easy, but i had no idea where they were. Once located it was more queues. eventually with the papers stamped i returned to the cargo office. 
Time now 11.30am, and i'm sweating from places i didn't know you could sweat - nice! Another wait to get issued a ticket to pick up the bike…after 2 hours the bike appeared on a metal pallet surrounded by other boxes. Time now 1.30pm. As the cargo people unloaded the boxes it became evident that there was damage to the bike, the numberplate was snapped off and the metal rack that holds the panniers was twisted. I was livid. The manager was called, luckily he spoke english. In his office (which was air conditioned thank god) he told me nothing like this has ever happened before, i need to wait while they take photos and call bogata to see what happened. 
After another 2 hours (now 3.30pm) i was told that the shipping company would relace the numberplate and pay for the rack to be repaired, if it could be. With this news i drove out the cargo department, with one stop before i could get on my way. The customs office, i needed to register the motorbike as an imported vehicle. In every other country this has been quite painless, not so today! The person processing the motorbike was new, and took ages, so long that a storm came and went. Eventually i emerged into what was left of the hot sweaty day ,time now 5.00pm. 
The drivers in Panama city are the worst so far on this adventure, steadily making progess weaving through traffic i made it to the hostel as the sun started to set. Exhausted i collapsed.

an illustration of how the bike should have been transported (same company) one bike per pallet

how the bike was transported, bike plus boxes on pallet

one of the huge amount of decorated buses 

trying to capture the amount of rain while waiting at customs

looking across the roof tops of panama

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