April 16,1988: 4 PM Avianca Airlines JFK Airport New York City:

The rather diverse race crowd gathers. Loud, heavyset Bostonians with racing helmets under their arms and beer on their breath. Chic Argentines, gadget laden Japanese, Midwestern motorheads, and assorted press. Nonracers were mainly Colombians on their way home from short business trips.

Rumor had it that the fraudulent Exploration Society had already run out of money and that the autos had been shipped from New Orleans to Cartagena and were sitting in the impoundment lots due to nonpayment of port taxes.

After a slight delay we were on the gangway getting on to the plane. Due to the usual political problems, US citizens were being actively discouraged by their own government from visiting the beautiful vibrant land of Colombia. A bunch of thuggish looking DEA agents dressed in jeans, boots and sunglasses scrutinized everyone going on the plane. Passengers had to line up for Polaroid mugshots before boarding. Darker skinned folks were forced to open their wallets to see if there weren't too many C-Notes packed inside.

About 6 PM we roared off into the wild blue yonder. Cartagena is a straight four hour run down from New York. I was off to the end of the Earth, Patagonia, so far to the south that the snow would be falling all over again. The great sandy curve of the American East Coast gave way to the green Everglades and the microscopic Florida Keys. Adios America! Minutes later the DC-10 passed over Pinar del Rio,Cuba . Beyond, the blue green Caribbean shimmered in the orange sunset, looking quite inviting for a dip.

A blast of swampy 90 degree air fogged my cameras as I attempted to take a picture while climbing down the staircase onto the Cartagena runway. The airport consisted of old Quonset huts under the palms. Inside we waited in long lines at the customs checkpoint, under slowly turning fans and flickering light bulbs. A multitude of forms had to be filled out for our various journalist and racing equipment. The line barely moved. A well placed ten dollar bill hastened the process considerably.