Saturday, November 9, 2013

Car is sold, now traveling by bus in Colombia

Now that I have sold my car in Panama City, Panama, I am on foot here in Colombia and getting used to traveling by bus and moto taxi (1st I've seen of this on my travels).  I'm in the small town of Taganga in the northeast of Colombia on the Caribbean coast.  I'll be heading to Minca, Parque Tayrona, Playa CosteƱo & La Guajira before crossing over into Venezuela.

I have no time frame for Venezuela, but will be traveling there for at least a month before crossing into Brazil and taking a boat down the Amazon back to Leticia, Colombia, which is right on the border of Colombia, Peru & Brazil.  From Leticia, I will fly to Bogota and purchase a bicycle to continue the Pan-American down to Argentina.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Selling a Vehicle with USA Plates in Panama

I've successfully driven all the way from Napa Valley, CA to Panama City, Panama.  Though my original plan was to ship my car to Cartagena, Colombia, I decided instead to sell my car in Panama City and buy a bicycle or motorcycle in Colombia.

It took me 8 days to sell my 1999 Toyota 4Runner in Panama City.  I posted it on the following websites:

The third one (below) is very popular in central/south america (the site is in Spanish) and costs $14.98 to list you car for 60 days with 18 photos & a video.  All the emails I received from this site were in Spanish so speaking some Spanish is very helpful.

I ended up selling it on Craigslist to a Costa Rican guy who lives in Panama City, Panama and buys/sells cars for a living.  I was originally asking $4500 but soon lowered it once I learned how high the import taxes are for foreign cars, which you can see here:

Panama Vehicle Import Taxes

For example, the import taxes for selling a $3,000 car would be around $1,700...a lot.  I did sell my car for $3,000 cash and the process was quite easy.  I gave the buyer 4 copies of my passport photo page & 4 copies of the page with my entry stamp into Panama.  The buyer also took all of my paperwork (Panama vehicle import paperwork, Panama insurance and original California title, which I signed over to him) and gave me a stack of cash...transaction completed.  I didn't have to go to any office or do any paperwork.

So, what do you do with a big chunk of cash while in Panama City?  Get it into a bank as fast as possible!   I went to Western Union the next day (yes, walking through Panama City with $3K in my backpack made me a little nervous), gave them all the cash, and they transferred the money into my AmEx savings account.  I just needed the account # and a photo ID (license or passport).  The transfer is supposed to take only one day and it cost $16.05 for the transfer.

Now I am car-less and even more free.  Off to Colombia via the San Blas islands...

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Receiving and paying for a speeding ticket with foreign plates in Panama

I was able go to through the exciting process receiving and paying for a speeding ticket in Panama with a foreign license (US driver's license) and US plates.

Beware Panama is the only country in all of central america where I have seen police with radar guns.  I received a speeding ticket about 20 minutes over the border, clocked at 94 km/h in an 80 km/h zone.  If you have driven in Panama, you probably noticed the speed limit often changes from 80 km/h to 100 km/h and back, not necessarily with signs telling you.  Regardless...

If you are stopped for speeding in Panama, BRIBE THE POLICE, again, try to pay the officer off.  It will be cheaper and save you several hours of time.  $20 appears to be the going rate to pay an officer if you are a gringo, but you should try $10 first to see if they'll take it.  I personally did not bribe the officer because I had no intention of paying the ticket anyway.  The problem, known after the fact, is that they do a police check on your car if you are shipping your vehicle to Colombia.


So, I finally decided to pay the ticket (you have 30 days) while I was in Panama City.  On the back of the ticket it lists a few places you can pay...I went to Los Pueblos which is a commercial shopping area with many, many stores, a cinema and a mall (I believe) on your way out going towards the airport in Panama City.  The office of Autoridad del Transito y Transporte Terrestre is also here.  

The office is located at GPS coordinates 9.047201,-79.451306 on Google Maps (across the street from a Rodelag)

This office is across the street from Rodelag and directly behind a large store named Campeon, which is next to another large store clothing/households store, named Conway.  You can park in the parking lot here because it is a huge shopping area.  When you go around the back of Campeon, you will see red signs for a Claro store.  The ticket office is to the right of this Claro store when you are facing it.

You will need only 1) your speeding ticket and 2) a copy of your passport to complete the process and there is an office to make copies for $0.15 each two stores down to the left if you are standing in front of the transportation office.

Enter the office of Autoridad del Transito and go to your right, to the last window on the left labeled "Departamento de Infracciones Menores".  Give the lady your ticket and passport copy.  She will process it then hand the paperwork to another woman behind her and ask you to wait.  When the other lady feels like finishing your process, she will print out a piece of paper for you to bring to the "Caja" to pay your fine.  $50 for my ticket (mier

You walk to the other side of the office where there will be a line of people waiting to pay.  Wait your turn, then hand the lady the new printed piece of paper you were given and the money.  She will print you a receipt and you are on your way.  Have fun trying to beat the traffic in Panama City.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Hanging out in Panama City, Panama and working on the blog

I am currently in Panama City, Panama, selling my car so that I can finish the Pan-American, Colombia to Argentina by bicycle.  Panama has very high import taxes for vehicles so it's generally cheaper to buy vehicles already registered in Panama.  My fingers are crossed.  Once I get a buyer, I will book a sailboat to Cartagena, Colombia, with a 3 day stop in the San Blas Islands.  The cycling culture appears to be much stronger in Colombia so will purchase a bike in Bogota.

Check out my latest travel update: Costa Rica:

Thursday, August 1, 2013

It's 8/1/13 and I have been back on the road for about 3 weeks.  I'm currently volunteering at a tree house hostel just outside of Granada, Nicaragua.  Check out my latest entry about my last days in Guatemala:

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Back on the Road

I will be flying into Guatemala City from San Francisco on July 8th and continuing on my Pan-American adventure.  The next stop is Honduras so please check back in mid-July to see what's next.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Hangin' in Guatemala for a while

If you would like to see the entire route I took down from Napa Valley, CA to Quetzaltenango, Gautemala, here is a link below to Google Maps with all that business:

Click Here to See My Entire Route Thus Far on Google Maps

I've been in the city of Quetzaltenango, Guatemala for almost 1 month now and will be here until May 7th, when I have to fly back to the U.S. for 2 weddings - my brother's in Boston, MA & my friends' in Napa, CA.  After the weddings (sometime in June), I will fly back to Guatemala, get my truck, and continue the drive southward to Tierra del Fuego.

Please click on the Guatemala link above to see what is going on