Expect the Unexpected (Ludwig's Dilemma)
So, we arrived in Cartagena expecting to spend the last night on the Stahlratte and depart the next morning with our motorcycles and all the paperwork needed to legally travel throughout Columbia. However, the well-defined process Ludwig had arranged came to a crashing halt when he was notified that the gentleman handling our visas and customs paperwork had suddenly died. It took Ludwig about a half a day to get another handler lined up who could sort through our documents and complete whatever steps remained to be done.
Ludwig let us know that we would be leaving the Stahlratte without our passports or our motorcycles, and would have to return the next morning to hopefully complete the process. None of us felt good about the delay or leaving without our passports, but who could have anticipated the sudden death of our documents handler.
Since Omar and I had previously arranged for an Airbnb for three nights in Cartagena, we didn’t have too much concern. We just didn’t want to be stopped by the police since we didn’t have our passports. To get to the home where we would be staying, we arranged for a ride using UBER. This service really takes the stress out of traveling in unfamiliar cities. You simply enter your destination in the application, select the nearest car and wait a few minutes for your ride. The payment is handled online eliminating the need for local currency and calculating the exchange rate and tip.
Our Airbnb was an awesome place about seven miles east of the old Walled City in Cartagena. It was located just a block from the beach in a very safe and secure neighborhood. Our hosts were also very welcoming. To make us feel at home they brought us a cool glass of fresh mango juice shortly after we arrived.
The next morning, we headed back to the harbor where the Stahlratte anchored overnight. Once on board we got the remainder of our personal items on deck and waited for the customs inspector to arrive to check our paperwork and confirm the VIN’s for our motorcycles.
While we were waiting, I had the opportunity to talk with Pejmen. I discovered that although he currently lives in Australia he only moved there eight years ago from Shiraz, Iran. He shared with me some interesting facts about Iran and the history of the Shiraz region. In this region of Iran there are ruins dating back almost 7,000 years. After listening to him describe these amazing archeological sites, I decided that Iran was one of those places I would like to visit someday. But for now, I needed to stay focused on getting my bike through customs and safely on shore.
A really cool thing happened when we docked to unload our motorcycles and gear. Everyone just pitched in to help each other. It didn’t take much more than 30 minutes to unload all of our bike and equipment, and for the Stalhratte to push off and sail away. Bikers helping bikers!
Once we got our containers and travel bags remounted, we headed out to continue our South American journey. It felt great to throw a leg over my BMW and twist the throttle once again.