On arrival to Catagena we decided to head directly to the Colombian agent and start the ball rolling with unloading the vehicles. If all had gone well the container would be on the ground in the dock by now. In the end we called ahead and found out that the ship had not yet arrived and despite it only being an 18 hour sail from Panama it had taken 5 DAYS! The comment made by Boris in Panama came flooding back… ‘another few minutes and you would have missed the boat’! The boat sailed 5 days after Boris said that. We did however get an email letting us know the vehicle would arrive ‘i quote’ – ‘the day after tomorrow, today’. I was unsure what this meant so i asked if that meant ‘tomorrow’ as that was the best i could work out. The reply was – ‘The day after tomorrow tomorrow’. Again a little confused i asked if that meant the day after tomorrow or 3 days time? I got no reply so i guess he thought i was making fun of him. I wasn’t.
We arrived early the following day at the agents office (I will refer to him as nob chops from here on in) and after 20 minutes we were taken to his office. One of the first things he told us was that the price had gone up from our quote 1 week ago…. I thought I might kill him but I just said ‘no’. Clearly my training/experence in Panama had paid off. There was a sudden silence in the room and I didn’t need to look around to know Lisa had her head in her hands from embarrassment and Gaby and Hiske felt the same. I was seeing red. Nob chops instantly flushed. He explained in a panic it was his fault as he had not sent Boris the revised prices form the Colombian port. Lisa stepped in before I could say anything. To review – nob chops had just told us the price had gone up and that it was his fault! It turned out it was only $50 devided by the 4 of us and Lisa agreed to pay half to save the guy from having a break down right there and then!
The meeting continued and in my outrage I had to film what had just happend for the fear that no one would believe us! Nob chops did not know the answer to half of our questions and had to keep calling people or sometimes his collegue stepped in to help. We left for the afternoon convinced that this was the first time he had arranged to take a vehicle off a ship.
Day 2 and Gaby had to return for 10 minutes to sign some paperwork, I don’t know exactly what happened but he returned 4 hours later after having to go to the port and transit office to do lots of Paperwork. Nob chops had said it would speed up the following day when we would get the vehicle and laid back Gaby didn’t seem to mind.
Day 3 and Myself and Gaby went back to the port to collect the vehicles. It was the same dis-organised mess that we experienced in Panama (but with plastic hard hats instead of no head protection at all). We spent hours going in and out of all of the offices doing all of the things Gaby had spent 4 hours doing the day before. After the 3rd office Gaby became convinced that they had forgotten or lost all of the paperwork from yesterday. We had to unstrap the vehicles ourselves as the guy who normally does it was in the bathroom and the port official stood and complained that Mr Punctual aka random guy from Panama had done a very poor job of strapping the vehicles down.
As Gaby was the first name on the paperwork he was the only one who could drive the vehicles around the dock. This had been told and told again to us by Nob chops… Whatever happened I could not drive Peggy out of the container. Obviously once at the container and having the vehicles in front of us the rule was forgotten as I was instucted to get my van out. Dealing with this man was like dealing with a stupid child with memory problems. Anyway another few offices and some screaming and shouting from security about me filming everything and we were out. Done and dusted! It was like a bad dream, the one where you just can’t get anywhere or finish the task at hand. But it was done. Time for a drink!
The whole ‘experience’ cost us $1000 all told for the actual shipping.
It took 10 days to physically sort out the shipping which only includes the police checks, getting the vehicles in and out of the container and actual shipping. This does not include the months we spent trying to arrange a container!
It cost $1000 (roughly) to get ourselves to Colombia from Panama when we expected it to cost $160 and $280 in accommodation for the time we were without Peggy. Goodness only knows what we spent on food but we tried to keep this as low as possible by cooking when we could and mainly for 6 of us at once.
All leading to a grand total of $2340 per couple to ship our van approximately 200 miles. This cost does not even compare to the nightmare of the actual experience itself!
Find out what happens next on our travelling wedding adventure!