On the contrary. Soo many things have happened and are happening at the same time, and sometimes it is a challenge to choose a topic to write about. In fact, I could be writing every day. Maybe I will post short daily stories on Facebook and Instagram, and reserve the blog to put it all in a summary per topic. Or make shorter blogs more frequently. Let me know what you think in the comments below.
When you want to accomplish a goal, proximity is key. When we first started our plans, we sold a lot of stuff. But still, we were surprised to see how much you still have stashed away. And it is not that we like to hoard. I think it is just easier to put stuff on a pile, thinking you will sort it out later, and later never comes. Who can relate to this? One of my goals this year is to keep it simple: decide right away what needs to be done on intuition and act on it immediately. Deciding to board the plane on the same day that we moved out of our rented apartment meant that we had to box, pack, clean, hand over keys, and fly on the same day. Sounds like a lot right? Yes, it was, but we are glad we did it that way.
But it was not easy to find caretakers in Curaçao for three mastiff-type dogs. One is a cross between a Fila and a Westpointer (the local name for the street dog of Curaçao). She is thirteen years old, and her name is Fila. The other two are Cane Corso’s brother and sister Zorro and Shadow. They are 4 years old and extremely attached to each other. The big question was: What are the Colombian requirements to bring pets into the country? Google proved to be my best friend. And the Colombian Government exceeded my expectation with the amount of documentation they put online to help you and them be more efficient with this process. The step-by-step instructions and video in this link were all I needed to follow: Requirements for importing Dogs and Cats into Colombia. I spent a couple of hours sifting through the Spanish instructions and verifying all the shots and papers that had to be prepared, completed the online form, and made the payment online.
Some shots and treatments could not be older than 60 days and others not more than 10 days from the travel date. We contacted our favorite veterinarian, Dr. Nouel at Dierenkliniek Parera. She was kind enough to come to our house and give our dogs all the required shots, she printed out the history of each, gave us the number of Mr. Monk at the Veterinaire Dienst Curaçao to arrange an appointment to sign the certification papers two days before our departure. The appointment went according to plan and the dogs were all set to go.
The only prerequisite was that we had to inform the pilot prior to the flight, so he could adjust the flying altitude to allow enough oxygen for the dogs in the cargo hold. Otherwise, the dogs could suffocate and die if they fly too high since they do not have pressure control in the cargo hold.
The ticket was affordable at USD 45,- per pet. We had to arrange IATA-approved dog benches, which in Curaçao range between USD 150 and USD 250. The only challenge was that we could only take one pet per person, two in total in our case. Since the Zorro and Shadow are inseparable, we opted to take them with us. We were truly blessed that a good friend of ours, Iris, agreed to watch over Fila for a few months and we are very happy to say that Iris and her daughter Iva took in Fila as a member of their family immediately. I call Iva the dog whisperer of Curaçao. She has a special connection with animals in general that I admire immensely. I am happy to say that Fila has more attention and love now than when she was with us. We are eternally grateful to them for all they have done and are doing for Fila.
We still had a lot of stuff to get rid of and while I was sorting out what to take and what to leave behind, one of my sisters and one of my aunties were trying to help me pack boxes and luggage, Theo transported the boxes to a small storage of 2×2 M that we rented and our help was trying to clean the apartment. Theo arranged with our friend Ismael to pick up the dogs at 10:00 AM. It was pouring. Since we never put our dogs in a crate before, I thought it would be a big challenge to keep them still. But by some miracle, Theo and Ismael were able to get the dogs in their crates, put them in the truck, and strap them in without any major issues. By some miracle, we managed to clear the apartment on time in two different cars, each with a couple of stops to make before going to the airport.
The rest of us (Ismael’s wife and daughter and my sister) took care of the 5 checked bags and 2 carry-ons. It took around 30 minutes to complete the check-in of the dogs. Happy to say that all papers were in order. We finished the check-in of the luggage, gave my sister and Ismahel and family a big hug, and rushed through the immigration and security check and to the gate. We got on the plane within minutes and off we were to our new home for the coming 5 months, with 7 pieces of luggage and 2 dogs. We were incredibly grateful that EZ Air Serves a meal aboard (sandwich, chips, soft drink, and water) since we had not been able to catch lunch before leaving. We could finally relax.
The ground personnel assured us that they were on their way and asked me to take care of the paperwork at the office of ICA (Instituto Colombiano Agropecuario) in the meanwhile. The inspector reviewed the documents, vaccination proof, and payment. At the time he finished with the paperwork, the dogs arrived in their crate unharmed and surprisingly calm. We had help from 3 bellhops, went through customs without any trouble and when we arrived outside, our drivers were there waiting for us with an SUV for us and our luggage and a pickup for the dogs. They secured the crates and we jumped in the SUV. We drove for 2 hours to El Marial and arrived just before dark at our new home.
We carried in all the luggage, thanked our drivers, and prepared for our first night in our new surroundings. It was a cold night. We allowed the dogs to stay inside but kept the front door open so they could get out at will if they needed to. We did so for 2 weeks to get them accustomed to their new surroundings. The surroundings are very peaceful and all neighbors know each other, so we never feared that anybody would jump over the fence while we were asleep. A couple of days later we bought them mattresses against the cold floor, which they destroyed after 2 months. Now they sleep outside in their crates since they are used to the surroundings and it is also a bit warmer.
I must say that the first couple of days were not easy since we did not have a car and did not know our way around. I will tell you more about our first 3 months in the next blog. I promise that I will do my best to publish them monthly again!
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