The urban sprawl of Panama City soon fades as we rise higher and higher into the clouds. Miles of housing developments, sky-scrapers, and asphalt soon give way to lush virgin jungle. We were flying over the Darien Gap. From the looks of it I think the 4Runner coulda made it… Of course its easy to talk crap from 30,000Ft.
After a quick flight our plane descends into the chilly mountain city of Bogota. A welcome change from the sweltering temps of Panama City. We were shivering as we climbed the steps onto the tarmac to head for our connecting flight to Cartagena.
Everything is running smoothly, We grab our packs, rush through customs and head to the connecting gate.
Our luck ran out when the “Shipping process Gods” realized it had been over an hour since our last grand disaster. We suddenly realize there is a sheep missing from our overlanding flock. 3 Americans and only 1 Australian stand at the flight gate.
“Where the hell is Daniel?”
2 of us run back to the customs, No sign. We check the bathrooms. No sign.
I speak with the customs agent, wondering if Daniel had been captured, his long run as a secret Australian drug runner finally catching up to him in Colombia. WAS HIS NAME EVEN DANIEL!?? I wonder.
Nope, replies the custom guy. No white guys today.
We finally find him, outside of the damn airport wandering confusedly around the Taxis. He mistakenly walked out the front glass sliding doors of the airport instead of swinging a right to the connecting flights gate. An easy mistake to make but unfortunately security would not let him re-enter the building. We discuss his options as the automatic sliding glass door continuously opens and shuts in our faces. Well, we sure as hell weren’t coming out there! He would have to make his way all the way around the entire airport, go back through security and meet us on the other side at the connecting flight. He had 30 minutes before the plane left.
We wished him good luck and jumped on the bus which then took us 3/4 of a mile across the airport to our connecting flight which was located in an entirely different section of the airport in a brand-new concourse under construction.
Daniel was equipped with his only ticket and a spanish-phrase book. Chances of him finding the new concourse, clearing security, and then finding the gate in only 30 mins looked dim.
We all anxiously paced around the gate as they announced boarding. No sign of Daniel.
We had no phone or internet to communicate with him. I gave Lauren my bag and waited at security. Kevin gave me all his electronics and headed out of security in a last ditch effort to track him down. After 10 minutes of searching, we heard them announcing final boarding.
With no sign of Daniel, Kevin gave up and came back through security as we headed towards the plane.
Our buddy was lost somewhere in Colombia but we got planes to catch. Good luck Daniel!
As we board the plane and hand over our tickets we hear someone yell “WELL WHAT ARE YA WAITING FOR, WE GOT PLACES TO BE!”
We swing around to see Daniel, cheery as a chipmunk, walking up with ticket in hand.
Apparently he had been sitting at the wrong damn terminal the entire time thinking smugly he had beat us to the plane. Only realizing at the last minute that the “helpful” airport employee had mis-read the ticket and sent him to the wrong gate.
We were all relieved to see him, called him a damn bastard, and got on the plane.
We soon landed in Cartagena, found a taxi, and after a quick head count, made our way to a hotel.
Welcome to Colombia!