Searching for the right car has been a very time consuming process for us. We starting looking at cars online in the beginning of the summer trying to find the perfect car. At first we wanted to get an older Jeep or other 4 wheel drive vehicle, but after more research we decided to focus on vans mainly because they would offer more space which meant we would be able to live out of one more easily.
One website called Drive the Americas provides a forum for people who are buying or selling cars around North and South America. Most of them are already set up with a bed, storage, kitchen, and lots of the essentials like pots, plates, and linens. We started looking at that site almost daily and saw a couple that seemed like great options. In both cases, the owners were going to be finishing their trips in Colombia around the same time that we were planning on flying down. Both cars, however, were registered in different countries, which we first thought would be something that we would be able to remedy fairly easily. Andrés started calling various transportation entities in Colombia to find out what the process is for a foreign car to be bought and registered in Colombia. After lots of searching online, we discovered it is essentially impossible to import a car with more than 0 miles on it into Colombia. This was really disappointing to learn because both cars we were really great. It appears there are a couple different ways people get around this. One option is for the car’s owner to write up a notarized letter giving the buyer permission to use the car. This is called a “poder.” This optioned seems harmless enough, but what happens when the new owner, who doesn’t have legal ownership of the car, wants to sell it to the next person? This is where the other option comes in: photoshopping paperwork. It seemed way too risky to do either of these options because if we ran into any problems with police or border control officers “no entiendo” was not going to work since Andrés is clearly a Spanish speaker. The last option (at least in the case of one of the cars we were considering), was to fly to British Colombia to get the proper paperwork for the car before flying down to Colombia. In this case we would have legal ownership of the car, but how hard would it be for us to sell the car in the end if we had to get the potential buyer to do the same thing?
In the end, we decided it would be easier if we bought a Colombian car in Colombia and set it up for the trip. We figured it would be fun to set it up how we wanted and we would probably be able to get the car converted into a camper for cheap. After looking online at other people who have converted a van into a camper, it seemed totally doable in a relatively small amount of time. So that’s the plan right now.