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The Day we were reunited with Dougal

Finally at midday, we got the van back from the port. We immediately started the epic drive to the border (at Macaio), as our tour in Venezuela starts at 8am tomorrow. The journey takes 7 hours to reach the border, then it's another 7 hours from there to where the tour starts. In typical Dougal style, as we were 20km from the border, we get a flat tyre. The roads are paved and issue free, so we don't know how it happened. Gwyn, fearing it was intentionally caused by people who want to rob us as the vehicle stops, asks me to guard him with the machete as he changes the tyre. It was pitch black by this point and not a car in sight. We were fine though, maybe because I decided to swing the machete around, Bruce Lee style, as a deterrence (but more likely not). Gwyn changed it and we got on our way.

The border crossing from Colombia to Venezuela via Macaio, would've been one of our most fastest and easiest, but of course, things never go to plan with independent over-landing. See, Venezuela for how this panned out.

We have every intention of coming back to Colombia in the near future for a month and to do it properly, so check back then to see how we get on..

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The Day it kicked off over a refund

Gwyn went down to the port to start the process with getting Dougal out. 

In the meantime, I did some research, then we went to see Stuart at Mamallena hostel, regarding the San Blas trip. Other people in the group also expressed their disappointment in the trip, not only at the food, but the attitude of the first mate (Ricardo) that was rude and sexist throughout.  Speaking on behalf of the group, to get some refund (ie last 2 days=$115usd per person per day), Stuart advised I go see Jules (the captain) in person after he spoke to him on the phone.  If you want more information on the San Blas trip as a whole, then read this article

When Gwyn came back, we got a taxi to Jules and Ricardo. The 'discussion' didn't exactly go according to plan. We explained the situation with the food, that not only was it horrendous after day 3, but we paid for breakfast, lunch and dinner and that is not what we got. We also explained, we upgraded to a cabin with an en-suite. It was broken. 3 out of the 4 bathrooms were broken on the boat actually. Jules stated: "It's a 3 day San Blas trip, so you pay for that." The trip was advertised as 5 days in duration and again stated in the agreement. Plus other passengers on other boats had not received the same treatment. He also said he couldn't be bothered running after everyone and it was not his problem. We explained that we had paid $575usd pp. and it was simply not good enough. Ricardo then shouted: "You're not going to get any money from us you f**king b****t". Up until this point, we had not sworn or raised our voices. I put my hand in front of Ricardo's face and said: "I don't want to speak to you." He grabbed my wrist tightly. Naturally, I kicked him so he would get off me…in the balls.  I actually didn't mean to aim there, but it just happened so quick.  Our taxi driver, who had witnessed everything advised us to get in the taxi and also suggested we press for charges for assault with the police. My wrist later bruised. 

We came back to the hotel and put a complaint in with Mamallena hostel. Whether it'll amount to a refund, we don't know. We didn't go to the police, as we leaving tomorrow and it's not worth the grief as we have the van to sort out still. Not the greatest starts to this continent.  This is one of the problems of issues arising in countries like this.  You're kinda fighting a losing battle with refunds and complaints.

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The Day we arrived in Colombia

 

Yeah, Colombia. South America journey starts. As soon as we got off the lancha everyone went their separate ways and no one spoke to each other, apart from the American couple and us. Says it all really. 

We got a taxi to take us to the other side of town, where our fellow container shipping buddies had pre-booked an apartment for us all. We found they'd bailed moments before we got there, as we hadn't made an appearance the night before, so they couldn't risk being stuck with an expensive apartment if we didn't turn up. Shame, but understandable. They'd emailed telling us where they were now staying, so we headed there, as it would be easier in the morning regarding all the container business. For $50usd per night, it was the backpacker budget steep-side, but as hostel dorm beds were around $20usd, it made sense. NB Peak season is December and January, so prices are usually double the price, which is unfortunate for us given it's the 29th January!

That evening, we got our passports back from Mamallena hostel (conveniently on the same street as our hotel ie Media Luna) and went out drinking with friends. Can't tell you how much we needed it.  It was good to bond over travel stories with other couples and talk about how stressful travelling be on a relationship.  

Yeah, Colombia. South America journey starts. As soon as we got off the lancha everyone went their separate ways and no one spoke to each other, apart from the American couple and us. Says it all really. 

We got a taxi to take us to the other side of town, where our fellow container shipping buddies had pre-booked an apartment for us all. We found they'd bailed moments before we got there, as we hadn't made an appearance the night before, so they couldn't risk being stuck with an expensive apartment if we didn't turn up. Shame, but understandable. They'd emailed telling us where they were now staying, so we headed there, as it would be easier in the morning regarding all the container business. For $50usd per night, it was the backpacker budget steep-side, but as hostel dorm beds were around $20usd, it made sense. NB Peak season is December and January, so prices are usually double the price, which is unfortunate for us given it's the 29th January!

That evening, we got our passports back from Mamallena hostel (conveniently on the same street as our hotel ie Media Luna) and went out drinking with friends. Can't tell you how much we needed it.  It was good to bond over travel stories with other couples and talk about how stressful travelling be on a relationship.  

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