Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Day 8: Border closure

It was cold when we left Popayán Colombia this morning but as the day progressed it warmed up. The roads were not good and Jordan was constantly dodging potholes. We were held up several times by road construction crews (so the roads should be improved in the future). At one spot, the road work on a narrow mountainous section held up traffic for about 45 minutes. In the line-up and at the front (that's where motorcycles go to), we saw nervous military soldiers keeping a keen eye on things and casting apprehensive glances up in the jungles overhead.

Later, Jordan was reading in the Latin American section of the BBC news that there had been a surprise rebel attack on a military contingent not far from this point and where a dozen FARC guerrillas and 2 soldiers were killed.

Ruby's rear brakes pads were getting down to nothing and the front ones were also showing wear. Time for new ones but brake shoes for this brand of moto won't be available until we reach Ecuador. So Jordan was babying the rear brakes to preserve them.

Riding past steep cliffs on winding roads

We reached the border crossing and exited Colombia with no problem. And we also had a pleasant visit with 14 Chinese folks on an 80-day trip while we waited in line for our exit stamp. They were fascinated with the GoPro camera attached to Jordan's helmet and everyone wanted their picture taken with Jordan wearing his helmet. Cameras were clicking non-stop even though they had been told earlier to not take pictures in the Migration building!

We exited the Columbia Immigration, drove over the bridge, and were in Ecuador and at their Immigration. It was almost full! We were pointed to the end of the line. We noticed the line wasn't moving and the lone officer behind the window wasn't processing anyone. Shortly after we arrived, they were not letting anyone else inside. We were told that their computers were not working and it was the third time this month. Everything was at a standstill. No one could be processed either for exiting or entry to Ecuador.

Finally after about 4 hours, the officials stated if they were presented with photocopies of specific pages of passports, they could issue temporary entrance into or exit from Ecuador, and in which case people would have to return the next morning to be entered into the computer. So there was a mad dash for the door to get to nearby copiers!

With our required copies, we got our temporary stamp and in the dark headed up the road to a nearby motel. What a day after 321 km from Popayán Colombia to nearby Tulcán Ecuador!

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