Day 57 – Tarqui Colombia to Mocoa Colombia

The day started out pretty well. We emerged from our room with smiles and found that the place with the tasty chicken last night also did breakfast. We weren’t specific enough with our responses and ended up with hot soup with beef broth, and some of the most deliciously tender roast beef and rice. Neither of us like the idea of warm soup for breakfast on a warm day, but it wasn’t bad. We’ll be more specific next time.

The breakfast parrot

Bikes retrieved and loaded, we headed out, and to Dachary’s great surprise, and joy, had paved roads the entire way. On the edge of Pitalito we pulled into a gas station to grab a drink and check the map. I, of course, came to a complete stop and promptly dropped the bike for no reason.

So much to love

The road to Pitalito

The guy whose bike I almost squished was instantly there to help me lift (again had no clue about the weight). And soon there were a handful of guys standing around contemplating the bikes. One of them mentioned something about a colombian plate, and pointed to Dachary’s which made no sense to me. But later he pointed to my bike and said something about the plate. I looked and…. wait a minute! Where the Fuck is my Plate?!

My new light and... something missing

Turns out, it wasn’t just my light that had fallen off. It was the whole damn plastic section that holds the light and the license plate. There is NO WAY I would have driven past something that large when I was looking for the light. So either it was picked up by someone or someone stole it from the bike while it was parked at the hotel. I’m leaning towards the former as I can’t see why anyone around there would want the tail piece from a BMW since they’ve all got tiny motos.

Anyway….
The guys are talking and miming handcuffs. I’m not sure if they’re serious or joking. I manage to explain that I lost it on the dirt road the other day and one guy steps up and explains, in Spanish, that I need to go to the police station and report it as being lost. It sounds like decent advice, so I ask where the station is and he tells me to follow him (and his girlfriend who hops on the back). So we do, and he talks to the guy in the windows but no, we have to go to the other police station. So we hop back on our bikes and he leads us the other way through town to a building that there is no way in hell I would have been able to find even if I was standing in front of it.

Nonono. You need the OTHER police station.

In we go, he explains the problem to a cop, who asks for a little over 2000 pesos (maybe $1.25 US) for the form (not sure why but it’s way too little to have been corruption) around the corner to the registration room, and the woman fills it out for me. I mistakenly think I’m 36 instead of 37 and sign the result. Back to the bikes and I thank the guy hugely for the twelfth time. He grins, shakes our hands, and rides off with his girl.

I turned to Dachary and said, “I am so glad he didn’t ask for a tip. It would have totally ruined it. Plus, while I’d have been more than happy to tip him, I haven’t a clue what something like that is worth.”

So. Word of advice. If you loose your license plate in Colombia, go to the nearest police station and report it. It’s no biggie and then you’ve got a pice of official paper to show cops or military if you’re pulled over, which, it so happens we do! Just as we’re approaching Mocoa. You’re still gonna have problems at the border, but that’s no reason to not enjoy the country while your cohorts back home get you a replacement.

It is our first official police stop, or maybe army. It’s hard to tell. They all wear green and carry machine guns. I pull out my papers and the guy holds out his hand for something else. He says a word. Nope.. not getting it… My license? No… he says it again… no, not getting it. He reaches out and shakes my hand, and I break into a huge grin. OHHHH That’s what he was saying.

The papers are fine, he sees the thing about the plate, and notes that yup, it’s missing, no biggie, I’ve reported it. Dachary’s papers are good too of course, and on we go.

We drive into town and start stopping at hotels with one big question… “Usted tiene internet?” Because we need net, and we need it in the room so that we can put together a power of attorney (do that before you leave) and contact friends back home to go to the RMV (Registry of Motor Vehicles) for me and get new plates, and, of course, track the resulting FedEx package to our hotel which is sure to be expensive.

Eventually, we find one, and for 55,000 pesos (about $28 US) for two nights we’re set. Dachary of course, gets curious about the town we’re in and discovers we’re in FARC territory, that they really don’t like the US, and that the road we were planning on taking is the “Colombian Death Road” which she seems pretty set on avoiding.

No matter what road we take out of here she’ll have had a chance to let her sunburn heal. We stopped by the pharmacy, and asked for Aloe for her sunburn. The pharmacist put something pink in a bottle of Johnsons & Johnsons Baby Oil instead. When we got back to the room we basted her. The official feedback is that “it doesn’t hurt as much”. So that’s good….

Second Hand Mannequins

About Kay

An old-school geek, addicted to travel, with a love of programming, writing, Esperanto, and starting businesses. -- @masukomi on Twitter.

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