There is no other way but to write a blog entry about the colombian police. We just have to share our police adventures with you.
All started (at least so we think) with Marja and Richie (our Bucaramanga friend from Colombia paragliding) writing an information letter about the project and the planned route and depositing it at the police station in Bucaramanga. Just an official thing to do - so we thought.
But the phone suddenly wouldn’t stop ringing. Police from all over Colombia called and asked when we planned on passing through their city/departamento and that we should call before we arrive so they can help. So nice!
Then we got robbed in SanGil, we spent a lot of time at the police station, filling in a bunch of documents, telling them about the project and the trouble we were facing now without our equipment. We left our new number and suddenly police from the towns we travelled through started calling and asking where we were and if everything was fine. The next step were sudden appearances like in Socorro, where they actually assisted the dog-bite story, took Leo to the hospital, waited for three hours and took him back to the farm where we were staying. Or in Guadelupe, where we were taking a dip in a river when they showed up and absolutely needed to take a picture of us to show their commandante that they saw us.
But we never expected what came next. Bodyguards.
Just before San Benito they came to meet us on a motorbike and told us they were going to accompany us. They seriously ended up spending the entire day with us, until they were replaced by the next town’s police, again on a motorbike.
This continued for two days, we were always followed by at least two policemen on a motorbike, they were there to assist workshops, lunch breaks, they found us places to stay, helped us saddle, brought drinks, entertained us with discussions and even got off to walk (and chat) with us when we had to lead the horses. One actually called our phone to ask Marja who was riding her horse just 3 meters in front of his motorbike if she was married. :D :D
To our questions why they were there they said that the commandante in Bogotá had given the order that we had to be protected at all time. We insisted that they didn’t have to, thinking that they probably had more important things to do (find our stolen stuff for example :D).
But there was no discussion.
The third day they picked us up in a huge police car - we called it the party car. For the simple reason that they kept driving really close to the horses, talked to us over the loudspeaker and even put on colombian music. On speaker. While drinking beer. We guess they were enjoying a great out of office day. Luckily our horses are really, really calm.
However, the car police was really different to what we had gotten used to from the motorbike police.
But their stopping to follow us was not an option - order from Bogotá. What’s funny actually, before meeting us most of them actually thought we would be two rich ladies in their fifties who are good friends with the commandante. :D :D
Police protection sure is very, very helpful and reassuring, but the project is supposed to be a travel using sustainable transport (horse and paraglider). A car or motorbike escort is not really what you’d consider sustainable transport. Therefore, after 5 days of protection we agreed on continuing alone and informing the police in the towns we pass through of our arrival.
To the countless policemen who followed us on motorbike, in car or on foot, thank you so much for your assistance and support!! Thank you for the great time, discussions and friendship.
Thank you commandante in Bogotá whose name we actually don’t even know!
Needless to say that it really is a unique experience to enjoy colombian police protection.
Thank you to the police of Colombia for taking such an interest in this project, for your protection and help!