Thursday, 26 September 2013

When arriving to Columbia, have an address for your accommodation

We left Buenos Aires in the wee hours of the morning, arrived at the airport to have the taxi driver tell us the  fare was A$220, not A$95 as quoted by the hostel, after a bit of arguing in Spanish (Angel surprised himself!) we gave him the benefit of the doubt, as it was only £10 then emailed the hostel to check and the apologised, the driver was right, the person at the hostel had quoted us wrong. Drama one dealt with.
We queued at the flight check in for about an hour for 'bag drop' as we had checked in online and printed boarding cards, and I think due to the long delay at check in they delayed the flight. (Nothing in South America happens when it is supposed to we have discovered).
The flight was ok, a bit rocky on landing, probably due to the mountains surrounding Bogota. 
We disembarked the flight, walked the long walk to passport control, stood in line, our turn;

Immigration official: Buenos dias, are you here on holiday?
Us: Yes we are.
How long are you here?
12 days.
What is the address of your hotel in Bogota?
We don't have one, we are staying with our spanish teacher's aunt (yes, this sounded very dodgy to us too).
What is her address?
We don't have it, she is meeting us here at the airport.
What is her phone number?
Sorry, we don't have that either, she is meeting us.
Where else are you going?
Cartagena, on Sunday
What is your address there?
We haven't booked it yet.
So you have no hotel here in Columbia?

So we got taken into one of the interview offices in the back of immigration, we were pretty nervous by this point - will they let us in? The interviewer asked us the same questions, Angel showed him all the onward flights we have, he asked if we have cash we said yes and he wanted to see it (luckily we have $US500 emergency cash on us as we had no Columbian money yet - we use ATM's). He seemed be be ok with this and was very interested in the colourful plastic Australian money we had on us. He told us he would take us back out and said to us 'your hotel in Cartegena is called Sol de Caribbean, remember that' which we guessed was how he was going to get us in, he left us with the immigration clerk and said 'Welcome to Columbia'. Phew, we were in.
Shaken, we went downstairs, picked up our bags which were now off the belt on the floor and went outside, where the lovely Diosa was waiting for us with a sign with our names. Needless to say we went to bed early that night. 

In hindsight this was stupid of us to have not insisted on having an address for Diosa, we were told by our teacher ' Don't worry, it will be fine, she will be waiting for you', but I suppose as a Columbian national you are not asked this stuff so you would not know. It's the only place we had not booked accommodation for our arrival.

No doubt, more adventures in Columbia to come....

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