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The road to Damascus - Colombia - Episode 1

Updated: Jul 23, 2022

It's winter in Quebec, so Juliette, my pretty motorbike, is installed in my shed for the winter. Unable to regale you with my motorcycle adventures, I decided to tell you about my exploration of Cartagena de Indias, Colombia

.Finally, I'm leaving. The preparations were… arduous, the journey even more so.

I was to have only one stopover of a few hours in Miami but my carrier decided otherwise a few weeks before my departure. I ended up with an extra stopover in NYC and the requirement to spend a full day in Miami… oh the budget.

Then Colombia changed the entry rules a week before I left by suddenly requiring full vaccination and a PCR test less than 36 hours old, in addition to my antigen test for the US. Finally, the PCR test was compulsory only for the mono-vaccinated.

So I show up the morning of my departure at a private clinic and put the swab in one nostril and then the other. It’s not very pleasant. A chance that I was double vaccinated… of this vaccine which was to bring us freedom…

Three minutes later, I am confirmed that I am negative, I who am always positive, and I am promised "written proof" in 4 hours at the latest. Except… 4 hours later… no results in my mailbox. I try to reach the clinic… and I spend 20 minutes waiting before… getting hung up on me. I call back ... another fifteen minute wait ... to be answered by the technician that she is very worried and that the laboratory is very late for the transmission of results.

She is worried? Imagine my stress level… I'm leaving in a few hours…

An hour later, on the verge of fainting, I finally get the email. So I set to work to complete the three apps. My carrier's app, the app to check that I meet all the requirements, the app for my arrival in Colombia ... and add the app to have my QR code showing that I'm vaccinated. To simplify matters, the QR code for traveling is not the same as the one I use to visit my mother at the CHSLD.


It’s bad. I am unable to complete the app properly according to the requirements. The gismo offers me a list of acronyms to describe the COVID test I had, but I don't know which one to choose. After an hour of fruitless internet searches, I pick one up at random and….5 hours later the machine tells me it's not the right choice, without telling me which one is the right one. I pick another acronym and ... it's finally at the airport that the nice lady approves the document, still not having received a response from the app.

Finally, I get on the plane ... very surprised that I managed to get through the obstacles in my way.

In Miami, I settle into a beautiful hotel booked at a golden price. Small supper at a restaurant and I settle in for the night until some odd noises wake me up. Someone tried to break into my room. I call the front desk and they tell me everything is okay. What!?!? As I get dressed to make my way to the lobby for a more ... valid explanation, my night visitors try to break into my room again. This is too much. Very scantily clad, I open the door and scold them roundly ... in French. Because, this is a French couple to whom the hotel gave my key and my room. So we all end up in the lobby in front of the receptionist who has no excuse to provide other than "it's ok, there's no problem".

Fortunately, the end of the night is quieter and the next day I fly to my final destination ... Cartagena de Indias.

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