Tuesday, December 15, 2015

My First Ride in the Back of a Police Car

The next day we were all over the place again. In the morning I went about MacGyvering Azure's "maintenance free" battery. We had charged it for an hour but it would not hold it's charge. With a knife I pried it open and found a dry battery. I filled it with demineralized water and gave it another try. It worked! At least we were good for now and could get on the road.
[​IMG] Putting some new life in this battery.
A little later than planned we got to the DIAN office to collect our 90 day permits. We were hoping for a quick run this time but it turned out the i's still had to be dotted. After a few hours things finally seemed to come together and all we had to do was sign the permits. The guy who was responsible for this was in the back of the building and we had not met before. After introductions he started off in... English!!! NO WAY! All this time there was someone here who spoke English! We smiled at each other and figured it would not hurt to try to get an explanation for the last week. He could not give us an answer (because he said he also didn't understand why it was such a big problem) so we left it at that and were just grateful for new 90 day permisos.

[​IMG] The long awaited paperwork almost signed and ready!
[​IMG] Maicao goes all out for Christmas!

We felt more and more at home in Maicao and eventually it seemed everyone knew who we were in this small city. People started greeting us and asking about our bikes (which we had yet to ride into the city). Little jokes were made and we began really enjoying our stay. But there was still a lot to be done. I set out to find a battery for Azure as I was not completely happy with the revived battery. I knew I was probably not going to find one but hey, why not try.

[​IMG] Before I knew it I was racing through town checking every battery place there was. Lucky me that the guy owned a bike and not a donkey trailer combination...

Azure went to the only place in town to get our SOAT, the compulsory Colombian third party insurance. This was supposed to be easy. "We are not able to sell SOAT's for foreign vehicles". WHAT? Another roadblock... We asked around and the nearest place to get our SOAT was Baranquilla, 6 hours by bus in the direction of Cartagena. Wondering if it would pose a problem with the police, we stopped at the police station to ask what they thought we should do. Convinced that we could buy SOAT here, a nice officer drove us back to the SOAT place only to find out we could not. Oh well... Let's get the bikes and GO! We'll see what happens. I was already practicing my "no haab-lo es-pan-yol" and "no comprendo" in my worst Dutch accent just in case we would get pulled over.

[​IMG] The officer having a look at our old SOATs
We went back to Chachi to get our bikes. It was sad to say goodbye. I also had to leave my old Zarges Case. Chachi promised to keep it for me for whenever we would come back to collect the memory of 6 years around the world. So sweet of her. Then the moment had arrived. We rode out the gate and we were back in Colombia! With Legal papers but without a SOAT. The army guys on the bridge gave us a thumbs up. Pfew. In the distance we could see the fluorescent yellow of the police checkpoint. Here we go... The hand went up... Damn. We pulled over. The police man came our way. As he came closer we could see a big smile on his face. He extended his hand and gave us a firm shake. It was an officer we had met in town! We were greeted by all of them and they wished us the best of luck for our journey. WOW!

[​IMG] Saying goodbye to my Zarges Case and all the memories on it.
[​IMG] Leaving Chachi. Aside from the border situation, this is a great and safe place to store bikes for a longer period of time.
[​IMG] Back in town these guys helped me to make some final adjustments to the frame for the new Zarges Case. I love it when people love their jobs!

That evening Raul checked how we were doing. We told him about the SOAT and he said he would try to help. OK. On Wednesday morning Azure was instructed to go back to the same SOAT office. Raul had made some calls and Azure returned with insurance for both bikes. Although it took us forever and we certainly were irritated at some point we are thankful for all the help we got and the experience that came with it. It was an extraordinary situation that the people in Maicao don't have to deal with on a daily basis. It just took them some time to figure things out and get us back on the road. And back on the road we were!

[​IMG] Bike paperwork sorted and both bikes ready to hit the road. Time to make use of the Black Dog farkle :1drink

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