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Leaving for Colombia

February 28, 2012

Fletch and I rode out to Puerto Lindo to begin the boarding for our boat to Cartagena.  Fletch has been out here before so he led the way.  We stopped to get a pizza on the way and he pointed out a guy on a Harley riding by.  The guy’s name was Guido and he ran the hostel and one of the boats that goes to Cartagena.  Not ours.  Our captain’s name is Israel.
After lunch we head further on to the hostel and see Guido on the side of the road.  His face, knees and arms are covered in blood and he’s working on his bike.  He explains that a bus was riding in his lane and he had to ditch the bike on the side of the road or else he would run into the bus.  The bus driver claimed that Guido was riding in the wrong lane but you could see in the road where Guido had hit the brakes and skidded.  Guido would make it fine but the bike needed a few repairs.  He started it up and got it back to the hostel.
Buses and large trucks riding in the wrong lane is something that’s actually pretty common down here.  Anna and I were lucky that we didn’t run into that too much and I usually slow around curves anyways.  You never know what’s on the other side of a blind curve and though it’s fun to take the curves at high speeds, I prefer to be prepared for a bus, a cow, gravel, whatever.
The hostel that we were staying at in Puerto Lindo was really basic, much like the town of Puerto Lindo.  Google maps doesn’t show roads going out to this area and the store only sells bare necessities like candy and Romen noodles.  There is only one restaurant there that is run by a very nice Dutch man.  The place is a bit strange because no one ever asks if you would like something and no one could care less if you order or not.  If it weren’t for the tables and the sign, you would never know it’s a restaurant.
We were there a day early so we would start loading the boat the next day.  Silvia runs the hostel there and was helping us with the boat.  She told us to pack a bag with the most basic things that we would need for the trip and then everything else would be put in storage.  She said we wouldn’t need soap really because you’re in the water swimming all the time and just need to rinse off the salt once in awhile.   I packed just a few things.  A towel, my ipod, a camera, my computer, and the clothes that I was wearing.  Everything else went into storage on the boat where we would not be able to get to it.

Loading the bike was really stressful and I plan on never doing it again.  A lot of bikes come through here going to ships so you would think that they have a good process for this.  You would picture the boat being at the dock and you might ride the bike onto the ship, or maybe there would be a hoist on the dock which would lower the bike into a small boat and then the bike would be loaded onto the larger boat from there.  Nope.  Guido pays 4 guys to pickup the bike and lower it into the boat.  The scene is basically a bunch of guys lowering the bike into the boat while I’m yelling at them to not hold onto the bike by the muffler or some other piece that will break off.
After the bike is lowered into the small boat, I climb on top of it like I’m riding it and hold it upright while we go to the ship.  This looks really funny because I have to hold tight to the handlebars, concentrate on what’s in front of me, and it looks exactly like I’m riding normally.  It reminds me of one of those green screens they have in Vegas or other tourist places where you pretend that you’re driving a motorcycle and there’s some video of the road going on in the background.
Next the bike is hoisted onto the boat using the same system that is designed for an 80 pound dinghy.  Finding a spot to tie the rope around my bike is a pain.  It’s just not designed for this (not that other bikes are).  We find two bars on the frame under the seat and another place on the neck of the bike.  The first suggestions were around the handlebar and the luggage rack.  The luggage rack has a sticker on it suggesting no more than 10 LBs of pressure so there’s no way that’s happening.  Even though my bike is light for a cruiser, it’s heavier than the other bikes that come through here.  If the pulley is going to break, it’s probably going to be with my bike.  Additionally, there are just 2 of us holding the bike up with the help of the pulley.  If that pulley goes, both of us will be crushed by a beautiful bike.
The bike makes it onto the boat without falling into the bay.  This is another stressful part because I now have 3 guys jumping on my bike to mash down the shocks.  They’re doing this so that when it’s tied down it won’t bounce around on the boat.  The way that they’re doing this is each has a knee dug into my $600 seat and they’re repeatedly bouncing on it.  To keep the tank from getting scratched, they put pillows in between the bike and the railing.  It’s tied up a little bit more and then the captain says they’ll finish tying it later and they’ll wrap it up really well with a tarp.
The next day our captain had to drive around everywhere to get some permits and licenses taken care of.  Nothing to do with us or immigration.  He needed some paperwork to be legal for manning the boat from what I gathered.  It took a few hours longer than he thought so when he came back he told us that he would need a full day of rest the next.  Fletch and I look at each other but we’re both thinking “A day of rest, no big deal”.  He adds though that he needs a full day of rest, then another day to load food onto the boat, then we will wait a day and sleep on the boat that night.  Basically, we’re stuck for three more days.
Silvia gives us the rooms for free for the next few days, but it doesn’ help the situation much.  Our bikes are on the boat and all of my stuff is in storage.  I only have one set of clothes and no soap.  Worse, I have no shaver so in a few days I’m going to have one of those terrible Seattle style beards.  Since our bikes are on the boat, we don’t even have the option to go somewhere else unless we take the long bus ride into town.  These days would be some of the most unproductive of my life because I would just be reading, lying in a hammock, and living off of Ramen noodles.
One Comment leave one →
  1. Anna's grams Len permalink
    February 28, 2012 4:32 pm

    Nice hearing from you again Matt. Sounds like your trip has been exciting. Stay safe and enjoy.

    Anna’s grams….len

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