The previous update of the Tour.

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 robberies.

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 Medellin

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 Planeta Rica

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 hotel.

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 Cartagena

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 stop.

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 airport!

...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 Barranquilla

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 Panama

Klick to hear the national anthem of Panama
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!

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