Up till now we haven’t had the problem of buying insurance on arrival in a new country because we had one policy, purchased in Buenos Aires at the start of the trip, that covered all the Mercator countries (Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Paraguay, Peru). In Ecuador we didn’t need any insurance at all because they are in the middle of changing systems so there’s a 6 month amnesty. However arriving in Columbia (& for each country from now on) we knew we’d need to get some, it’s called SOAT; how difficult could it be we thought.
Start at the border crossing by asking the guy at customs where to buy it. He writes down Almacen, Alkosto, El Centro de Ipiales (Ipiales is nearest town to border). We also know from our Footprint Guide you can buy this SOAT at ‘The Plaza’. Get to hotel, get changed and head out. Ask hotel reception where it is. There are 2 or 3 Plazas in the town so we head off to the Gran Plaza to start our quest.
Arrive at Gran Plaza find nice shopping mall. Forget all about SOAT for a while and go for coffee and a burger instead. After a while wander round mall gazing at designer outlets and find a hypermarket, go in for look round. Leave hypermarket, ask a taxi driver to take us to other plaza as we cannot see any obvious insurance type office at Gran Plaza. $2 ride and loads of traffic later arrive at next Plaza and taxi driver indicates a hypermarket called Alkosto. Strange we think, this is a giant supermarket just like the one we’ve just come from, surely you don’t buy insurance in a supermarket. Yes you do! Go in, go to back of shop and lo and behold find a SOAT desk. Just started patting ourselves on the back when he says the system/computer is down, you can’t have any SOAT here. Nice man draws map of how to get to Centro Commercial just round corner to get SOAT. We misunderstand with our limited Spanish because he was actually telling us where to go to get a bus to the next SOAT desk. However another nice man shoves us onto a Collectivo (town bus) which takes us all the way back to main Gran Plaza where we started! This looks familiar we say.
So arriving back at Gran Plaza half an hour later, we go back into first hypermarket and there it is, another SOAT desk. We walked right it by whilst still digesting our burgers and looking at all the goodies for sale earlier in the afternoon. Do some paperwork, pay $14 for one months bike insurance, job done.
PLEASE DON’T FORGET WE’RE ALSO TRYING TO RAISE MONEY FOR SHELTERBOX ON THIS TRIP – AN AMAZING CHARITY. JUST CLICK AND MAKE A REAL DIFFERENCE TO PEOPLES LIVES. A DOLLAR OR FIVE, EVERY LITTLE HELPS SO SKIP THE EXPENSIVE COFFEE JUST ONCE AND DONATE – THANK YOU. https://www.justgiving.com/James-Mitchell15/