Town of Pasto in South Colombia is one of the most dangerous cities
in the country. Especially in South Colombia it is more or less safe
on daytime, but on night time far too dangerous. Visiting town of
Pasto can be too dangerous for a traveller even on daytime. As I
wanted to minimize the possibility to get robbed, I just passed it.
Traffic was the biggest danger on daytime and in the night armed
Arriving to a nice, touristic-looking small town of Popayan. There were
nice parks, cathedrals and that colonial style. In 5 pm I was
accommodated to a three star hotel. Bike was pushed into the corridor.
Bike was jut two metres from my hotelroom window.
I visited earlier another motel. It was a poor one and not much cheaper
than this good hotel. I could see how 'hungrily' they watched me:
"we'll 'clean' soon that gringo from money", they must have thought.
One local said that in the evening there is no reason to ride with the
bike in the town. And: "after 9 to 10 pm, when the shops are closing and
streets becoming empty, then you also go into your hotel".
Popayan was a nice-looking small town. The ordinary, honest people were
kind, but there was too much crime!!! Too many bandits and drug dealers.
28.1. Thu (568) Popayan
In the morning, like always, I loaded the luggage on bike and lubricated
the drive chain. I got good information at a gas station, that North
Colombia would be safer. "Ride only on day time", they warned me.
Arriving *in the night* to Medellin. It's a city of two million people.
I didn't have a clue of the city, no maps. I just saw an MC cop on the
road side and asked for advice. He said: "I'm busy now, but you can
come with me to the police station, from ther somebody will advice you
the direction to hotel area".
We rode that 1 km to the 'Transito'. Soon two MC cops promised to show me
a hotel. I just followed them (185 cc bike) and we rode some 10 kms in
the night to the hotel area. Traffic wasn't that dangerous, as I had
police escorting me! They left when I had booked to a hotel and
everything was allright! Excellent service!!
29.1. Fri (569) Medellin
As Medellin was in the sea level, the carburetors mountain adjustments
had to be restored back to normal. I could do that in the garage of the
Another example of the Colombian generosity: the receptionist gave me
advice how to exit the city to Pan American highway. Ok! But, of course
I took a wrong turn in the city. They saw it and soon his friend, a taxi
driver overtook me by his taxi and guided me to the correct direction!!
Colombians were very friendly.
In Central Colombia the sceneries were exactly like in the Tatra
mountains, South Poland: cattle farms, beautiful mountains, green fields
and good road.
I arrived to a village of Planeta Rica. Some three star hotel again.
Air-conditioned room was okay, after the long riding in the heat. At
8 pm it was still 30 degrees! In the night I tried to repair the hinges
of the right side bag. That was broken in a crash with a bus in South Colombia.
30.1. Sat (571) Planeta Rica
I decided to finish the side bag repair work. Previous day I had bought
cupboard hinges of brass from a hardware shop. The new ones were
stronger than those plastic, made by Givi.
I tried to repair the leaking clutch oil seal. The leak just made the
right side of bike dirty. A new O-ring slowed down the leak, but didn't
At 8 in the morning was 35 degrees heat! Nice.
I rode to Cartagena, as my intention was to ship my bike to Panama from
there. To nice hotel Casa Grande. 30 metres to the Caribbean beach!
The hotel managers said, that the ship lines wouldn't be in operation
anymore between Panama!?! They said, a couple of years ago they were
in operation!! What, do I have to exit Colombia by a rowing boat?!?! :)
31.1. Sun (571) Cartagena
The city resembled a bit of Ft. Lauderdale in Florida. Beaches, palm trees, restaurants. Touristic town.
2.2. (573) Cartagena
Wasting of time with the customs arrangements. In the evening there was
a bit dangerous situation in the street. I was going to have some
dinner to a restaurant. There came three guys threatening me!!
Apparently they had a robbery in their mind. Anyway, they didn't
attack me. I went to talk to the guard of a good hotel. He called
the police. In two minutes there came a police car (3 cops) and
two MC cops.
I described them the situation & details. MC cops went to stop the
suspected car. We went by car to search around the area. Then we went
to a disco. I was quite sure we found one of the threateners there,
but I didn't want to point him to the police, as I wasn't 100% sure.
The incident had happened so quickly in the street.
Anyway, Colombian police did excellent work!
3.2. Wed (574) Cartagena
From the yellow pages I could see the contact information of the freight
companies... One offer was 960 U.S. dollars of shipping a bike from
Cartagena to Colon, Panama. 500 kms of distance!!! That's a robbery!
Other was 852 USD. Incredible! With that amount of money the bike sould
be able to ship to the other side of the world!
Then checking flight freights. In the cargo area of the airport of
Cartagena there were several offices, but they didn't accept my bike
as a cargo. Reason was that the airplanes' doors are too small for it.
To the airport of Barranquilla land bigger airplanes, they explained.
So, I had to go to check the situation at the cargo area of Barranquilla
...there were some four cargo offices. Only one of them operated to
Panama. Well, another one too, but via Miami. 350 USD air freight of
bike. A BIT cheaper than by sea! The freight would have cost the same
to Miami than to Panama City. To Miami everything might have been
easier, but I wanted to take a glance also to Central America, as I'm
on a world tour now.
4.2. Thu (575) Cartagena
A (return) flight ticket B/quilla - Panama - B/quilla cost $238.
Getting one way was not possible. 600,000 pesos from ATM for the air
freight. In Barranquilla the exit formalities at customs was the first
thing to take care of. I had bought my flight ticket hastily, as now
I had a limited time to make the preparations! Well, the customs office
was computerized, so the bureaucracy didn't take too much time. But
the vehicle inspector had left home, the rest of the formalities was
to be finished next day...
Flight would leave 15:15. All the customs and all formalities should be
finished at one o'clock!!!
5.2. Fri (576) Colombia
General information about Panama.
Things on the bike and at 8 am to Dian customs! We didn't waste much
time. Everything was ok. Then quickly to the airport cargo area!
Police checked all the luggage, it was a routine drug control. They used
a Schafer dog to snoop the luggage. Very accurate control, I had to
open and show all the luggage items separately. The freight officer had
screwed things a bit up, as in the customs papers were marked
"one shipment". That meant I had to pack all the luggage on the bike!
The best would have been to pack them separately and on a fork lift
palette, of course.
The biggest worries were how much of the luggage will be damaged or
stolen. Bike was sent by cargo flight from Barranquilla to Panama City.
Everything was done. I arrived to the check-in at airport exactly at
one pm! COPA, the Panaman Airways, took me to Central America!