I mean, Colombia. Long story, don’t ask.
It only took about fifteen days to do what would be about 400 miles if they had a road from Panama to Cartagena.
Then we went through a myriad of inspections, checks of numbers, photocopies. I came to believe that some people experience pleasure in paperwork. And I wonder where all those photocopies we made are now. Probably in some file, forgotten and waiting for the next fire or flood.
Then we waited because Copa airlines doesn’t transport animals between July 16th and August 16th. They don’t transport animals on days when there’s a holiday in Colombia either, but they wait until five minutes before you get on the plane to tell you. Via email. We were lucky I checked my email and we didn’t board the plane, otherwise, we would have been in a different country than Milo, with him at the mercy of the least nice people we’ve met in this trip: Panamanians.
Then followed three solid days of paperwork. The first to get Milo back, the other two to get the van.
Finally we are in South America. We like Cartagena a lot, but we are itching for some altitude, so we are going to head to the mountains tomorrow, to see if we can find some cooler weather.
Also, Colombia: what a pleasant contrast! Lately we had been remembering Mexico very fondly. Mexicans are extremely nice. We got used to saying “buen provecho” when entering or leaving a restaurant. Everybody seems happy to help, if you are stranded in the road someone always stops. Other countries, like Guatemala, Nicaragua and Costa Rica also have their big share of extremely nice people. Our experience was really bad in this regard in Panama. Maybe we spent too much time in the city, and that’s how people in big cities are, but I got tired of the rudeness. Cutting in line, grunting at you instead of speaking. At the end I would just tell people things like “please use words if there’s something you’d like to communicate to me” and “I’m glad to let you cut in line, I’d just like you to admit you are doing this”. Oh, and “I will pay the fare you mentioned, but only if you admit you are in fact robbing me because I’m a tourist.” Yep, that was Panama for me. We did meet a couple of nice people (and if you are reading this you know who you are), but overall, Panamanians are not doing much to make us want to go back.
Now, as soon as we arrived in Colombia, it was like night and day. People here smile! The first day of paperwork was actually not that bad, because of how nice the people at customs were. Amazing how far a smile and a “buenas tardes” can go.