June 10, 2006 GMT
Rampaging flowers broke my screen

The Old Dear has lost weight as well. She weighed in at 292kg on the warehouse scales in Bogotá, bless her.

The whole shipping procedure is completely different every time one does it. The Bogotá-Panamá procedure is as follows:

1. Arrive at the cargo terminal at 9am.
2. Get the chaps to find a couple of pallets because the two sets of steps up to the warehouse floor are really too steep otherwise.
3. Pretend I'm an ace motocrosser, and get a round of applause when I manage it without falling off or hitting anything.
4. Ride her on to the scales.
5. Ride out on to airside, negotiate around the nosewheel of an inconveniently-parked 747, and into the bonded warehouse.
6. Disconnect battery and drain tank; move mirrors and screen out of harm's way.
7. Have a cig and a breather; wash hands (again).
8. Clutching airwaybill, import documents, passport and any other bits of paper which come to hand, trek across the bog between the two access road carriageways to the customs office.
9. Return across bog with nice young man from customs to check the frame number and receive sundry signatures and stamps on various bits of paper.
10. Trek in the other direction to the Police with ditto bits of paper for more stamps.
11. Trek back to bonded warehouse for antinarcotics inspection.
12. Unload all three boxes completely.
13. Reload all three boxes and manage to fit everything back in again (always a miracle).
14. Receive yet more stamps and signatures.
15. Proudly present all stamped and signed bits of paper to Carolina, who in turn presents me with the invoice - $351.26, which seems a bargain.
16. Get taxi to air terminal and chill out in the VIP lounge for a couple of hours with free beer.
17. Fly to Panamá.

Yesterday morning I went to the cargo terminal at Tocumen airport here in Panamá to do the entire procedure in reverse. Except that there was a quarantine inspection instead of antinarcotics. But, like Bogotá, everyone was incredibly friendly and helpful. They get three or four bikes through a week so are used to it - this is more or less the only sensible way to jump the Colombia-Panamá border unless you want to be shot or kidnapped.

When I got to the lounge in the airport I even had to remove all the armour from my riding jacket for inspection. They weren't very sure about the helmet but it was in a zipped bag so that satisfied them, more or less. I did at least remember to put the Swiss Army knife in my tankbag as it was checked baggage.

Oh, and the screen got broken, which is odd as the only cargo the plane was carrying other than The Old Dear was flowers. And remind me to tell you all about Alfredo the gay Nicaraguan - such a nice boy.

Posted by Cynthia Milton at June 10, 2006 08:40 PM GMT
 


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