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Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Brian & Deya met in Vancouver Canada. After a few years together we were married and made choices. One was not to have children the other was not to take life for granted. The rest is yet to come.

November 27, 2011

Back to the land of crazy drivers and good times

I should know better but down here I don’t know a dam thing. We arrived into Bogota after a tiring flight. Being on the bike is the best way to travel; I’ve never sat in a first class seat on a plane but imagining the best I’d still choose my bike. We had to wait for several hours in the airport before transferring to a different terminal. The bus ride there was our first reminder of Colombian traffic as I was sent, bowling ball fashion, rolling to the front of the bus with my broken wrist and separated shoulder in slings. Nothing to hold onto, I just about knocked four people over as I rolled down the alley towards the pins; that is when Deya burst and yelled, “Can someone give the seat to my husband who has two broken arms?”, one guy finally got up to let the injured dude take a seat on the rollercoaster ride to terminal Two.

The next flight wasn’t long, into Medellin and onto another bus we made our way to the hostel we had booked. It was nice to be back in Medellin because it’s familiar, clean, friendly and you can get things done here. We had a lot to do and for starters my cast was rubbing me the wrong way, literally. I was developing soars and bloody rub spots. Anyone who has had a plaster cast knows the difficulties of maintaining it and the meaty hock contained within. We went looking for alternates and discovered that Colombia is awesome for things like medical equipment. For a lower price as one poorly constructed splint in Peru we were able to get a really good splint, a shoulder harness and a fancy sling that fully supports and holds the shoulder in place.
Now that I was high tech I could clean up and start to recondition the arm, taking off the cast revealed maelstrom of zombie looking flesh. The arm was bloated and soar, the bulk of the colour was from the many many failed needles. I’ve been in worse condition and been needled way more often but this was butchery and now it really showed. The good thing was that after a few days of cleaning it up, light massage, redressing and splinting the arm was looking fantastic. The only form to remain after the bulk of the swelling was gone was fluid in the back of my hand which causes tension and restricted movement. I’ll get it figured out in Cuba.
We stayed at the Palm Tree hostel, possibly name thus as there is a big palm tree in the court. The folks here are awesome and it has been good for us. We also met some fascinating travellers and some other bikers Canadians too! I love those people from Canada they feel like family although they talk funny, eh? Some of the special people we met here and enjoyed intelligent conversations and great food with were the British couple Will and Stacey and the German/French girl Catherine who spoke four languages! As always meeting people and sharing is one of the great pleasures you experience by travelling.
Enough about me lets talk about the bikes. It turned out that Maersk missed the boat on our order, pun intended. I’m guessing it was because Customs was too busy playing with our kit to release the bikes but it may have been something else. I mention that because our kit was very thoroughly searched and put back together by a three year old. A little upsetting since we were charged a handsome fee for the privilege of having it searched. Once we re-organized the gear we found a critical piece of tool missing. Inside the crated bike there was a closed pannier, inside the closed pannier there was a closed tool bag, inside the closed tool bag there was a closed black case containing a $170.00 dollars chain cutting and press tool with instructions. Now, it is a complicated tool and I have used it twice already, both times I needed the instructions and even with instructions I just about screwed up. Turn out the guy searching felt it necessary to remove the press fit and instructions rendering the whole 8 piece useless. Stupid!!! I would say we were lucky to have lost only that but having paid for the service and been delayed a week by the bikes missing the boat you might imagine that I’m not too impressed.
Okay so the bikes got forwarded to Amber Worldwide/Consolcargo and loaded, success! Deya, being Deya was on them like rotting meat stinks and had the whole team on a first name basis. That team consisted of the offices in Bogota, Medellin and Buenaventura, including some contacts back in Peru. Leave no rock unturned. Consolcargo must certainly inform us when the bikes were unloaded and deconsolidated. Nope, there was so much misinformation, wrong numbers etcetera that if not for Deya’s persistence we would never have found out about the bikes. Deconsolidated for three days and we were in a panic to contract carriage from Buenaventura to Medellin. It was epic and we’ll explain those three days of intensity as its own bit of fun later.
Suffice to say there is a team of incredible individuals right on our tails. From Mario in Chile to our old pal Diego in Medellin and Ivan in Peru we’ve got a network of support that’s unstoppable. I have talked about Ruta 40, the BMW shop in Medellin, as being outstanding and once again I have to say Mauricio of Ruta 40 has really laid it out. With the help of his friend and fellow rider Carlos the epic recovery of the bikes from the port in Buenaventura was made possible. Even with that, the chance of us getting to the Stahlratte on time was reduced from 14 days to about 2 hours.
At one critical moment in Buenaventura Deya asked, “Do you think all this means we aren’t supposed to go on the Stahlratte?” To which I said, “Not if the bikes aren’t loaded today and we are not able to leave town”. That said it all, we would have to change plans based on the omen set out in front of us. The short story is, due to several factors, we now are up to two days to clear Customs and load onto the Stahlratte, we’re going to Cuba!

The bikes have been tuned up and my pannier hammered back into shape. We’ll leave for a 14 hours ride to Cartagena on Monday. Cross your fingers folks for a smooth sail from Medellin to La Havana.

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