The flight was great and even the process through immigration was not as laborious as we had expected. We decided to stay near the airport rather than head into Manhattan, because our Colombia flight was first thing in the morning a couple of days later. We checked in , ordered a takeaway and made use of the superfast wifi!
We had 1 full day in New York so made full use of the jet lag and got the metro into Manhattan at 6.30am! We still managed to get caught up in rush hour traffic-with packed trains and standing room only for the 45 minute journey. We spent the morning in the 9/11 memorial museum, and saw the two huge pools and waterfalls that are on the sites of the original twin towers. We then walked and walked! We went through Greenwich village and then to the REI camping store (which we have been looking at on line as we have none in the UK). It was brilliant-sorry Go outdoors etc! We bought a small bamboo table which folds very small. This will fit nicely into the roof tent so we can put drinks, etc on it. We then walked the high line. The High Line is a 1.45-mile-long New York City linear park built in Manhattan on an elevated section of a disused New York Central Railroad spur called the West Side Line. It was lovely-a real oasis of calm above the streets of New York.
We are here for 12 nights and have settled into a lovely, relaxing routine. We walk fairly early in the morning for an hour before the heat becomes oppressive. Then we either do some chores, sightsee or relax on the beach for a while, visiting the local supermarket late afternoon for fresh produce. We have eaten so well! Fresh fruit, veg, salad, fish on a daily basis cooked by Gavin, who is a super cook. We are such regulars at one supermarket that we decided to buy a shopping trolley (in bright green!). Now we can be seen most days wheeling it from the supermarket back to the apartment! I have not seen anyone else with one but we don`t care-it saves us lugging heavy bags around! A lovely traffic policeman who tends to be at the same spot every afternoon, always giggles when he sees Gav come around the corner pulling the bright green shopping trolley! Unfortunately Gav managed to wheel it through dog shit this evening (Bob, dog shitgate part 2!!) and the trolley is currently in the shower having a wash!
The area we are in tends to be frequented by Colombians on vacation so has many high rise apartments and restaurants. We have already experienced 1 Colombian bank holiday (Monday 30th May) and there are 28 per year-what a great idea! The beaches were extra busy with loads of families on them, enjoying music, food, the sea and just chilling out together.
The guy who owns our apartment, Jack, is North American and lives in the upstairs apartment. He is brilliant-he gave us such helpful information when we arrived , has cleared a secure parking space for Ruby when she arrives and bought us some local fruit to try a couple of days ago. He has also said he has a contact that can help us if things don`t go to plan with getting Ruby back. This is so reassuring for us as a backup in case things don`t go to plan. We know many things will not go to plan on this trip, however because we have just started, we are really grateful to him for this safety net. We highly recommend this place to other overlanders who are waiting to ship either to or from Central America, or indeed, anywhere else.
So where is Ruby the landy whilst her owners have been having such a lovely time in Cartagena? The good news is that Ruby arrived in Cartagena port at 2am this morning (31st May)-we tracked her in on the internet! We feel like a long lost relative has arrived , however we have not actually seen her yet! We have spent some of our time here sorting out the paperwork needed to get Ruby back. This has been an education! We have lovely local agents called Angela and Daniel who are in Bogota and we communicate with them via skype. On the day after we arrived they sent us 6 forms, in Spanish to fill in. They quickly realised this was going to take us ages to do, as we would have to try and translate the forms first, so they completed them all for us. We then went to the business centre in the nearby Hilton hotel and printed everything off as we need to give copies to customs. We also had to take and send a photo of the building we are staying in and send a copy of our bank statement. Once we had done all of this, we took a taxi to the old town to visit a notary. The notary is a legal bod-who confirms your ID and witnesses you signing the papers and takes your fingerprints for the papers. This seems to be very common here as lots of people were waiting for various documents to be witnessed. It cost us a couple of pounds!
The customs officer arrived at our apartment to take these papers and then today, a representative of our agent in Bogota came to witness us signing the most important documents-the bills of lading. We ended up having a conversation via google translate which came up with some interesting translations! He was trying to tell us something in Spanish and google translate turned it into were we visiting an aquarium! We then went to Banco de Bogota to withdraw the money to pay the fees this end. Another lesson learnt-you can only withdraw a maximum of £60 a time in the ATMs here, so it took us about 13 transactions! I then lined up inside the bank to pay the cash into our agent`s account and managed to do this without any problems, or so I thought. The cashier had misread one of the numbers I had written down so I had not paid as much as was necessary. I thought she had given me too much change back! So I got back in the queue and she spotted me and waved me to the front. After shouting `Lo siento` (sorry) to all those waiting in the queue, the cashier rectified the amount paid. Then the customs officer returned to our apartment and took all of the papers away, saying we are likely to be able to collect Ruby in 3 or 4 days! Angela, our agent, messaged to say she will also provide 4 strong men to help us lift the roof tent back on when we get Ruby back!
So all in all a really good start to our trip. We will certainly miss the comfort of our apartment here, however we are both itching to get Ruby back and start the road trip properly! Famous last words!