03.07.2014 - 03.08.2014
View Colombia 2014 on madpax's travel map.
We left Cartagena early Friday morning (5am) and decided to take the southwest route back to Bogota. What could go wrong?
Friday ended up being a day of lessons learned. The first lesson we learned is that we hadn't properly thought through how many pesos we actually had in our possession before leaving Cartagena. The reason this is a problem is that apparently outside of the major cities it is impossible to exchange USD even at the banks. During the day we must have tried at least 8 different banks and countless strangers to exchange money. And as the day went on our pesos just kept getting more scarce (Colombia has a lot of highway tolls). Complicating matters was the fact that the mountain roads of the west were even worse and slower going than those we experienced in the eastern part of the country. By the time we reached the city of Medellin (3 million people), we had been driving for almost 17 hours, it was dark and raining, we had less than 1/8 tank of gas in the car and we had about 7 dollars worth of pesos to our name. We reasoned in our exhausted stupor that the airport should at least have a money changer and if nothing else maybe we could sleep there. When I went in it turned out all the money changers were closed but at least I was able to get an ATM to work (something that hadn't worked all day) so I could withdraw some pesos. We found a hostel outside of the airport with gas station next door. Score. And to top it off they even had a small restaurant so we could eat. We hadn't eaten in over 12 hours as we wanted to save our pesos. We considered ourselves pretty damn lucky and recorded another lesson learned - when in a pickle such as this......go to an airport.
We got up early again this morning and made tracks for Bogota. Again a lot of mountain driving which just never goes as you expect and is a lot of work driving. Our car is a manual so there is a lot of shifting. Kelsey does an amazing job driving although we did get pulled over again today for passing in a no passing zone. We almost got the ticket this time - he actually had the ticket pad out this time to start writing. We both starting saying "no passing, no passing" really excitedly and apparently he thought that was funny enough to let us go so got lucky again. We got into Bogota around 6pm or so but took and hour or so to find (get lost) a hotel close to the airport. Got to talk to the kids for a bit and then headed out to find a restaurant for dinner and looking forward to a cold beer. Not so fast. Found an English Pub of all things and they wouldn't serve us a beer. Why you ask? Not because we aren't old enough. Not because they were out. Because the country is having national elections tomorrow and there is a country wide moratorium on selling booze of any kind from 6pm today until 6pm on Monday. I nearly shed a tear. The police are patrolling the restaurants making sure they comply. The one we were at they even made them cover up the backbar to hide all the bottles. They said they wanted them to cover up any indication of alcohol on the premises. Wild.
Hope all is well with everyone. Love to all..