Yesterday we picked up Panda in the harbor of Baltimore. We presented ourselves at 8.00 am at the office of Pride International, the forwarder of the ship with which Panda crossed the big pond. The papers were all ready, emailed by Seabridge last week and prepared by Pride. Within ten minutes we were back outside.
We then had to report ourselves to an escort security service who would come with us in the harbor to pick up Panda. Since 2009 people are no longer allowed inside the harbor without an escort. We contacted one service upfront, but he was on holiday and said that Pride would be able to arrange that for us. Pride sent us to American security escort services who had someone available. For future overlanders arriving in Baltimore, I would advice to contact them about a week before you arrive, just to make sure someone is available for you.
When we arrived at the office of American escort service we learned that they were about to take their lunch break for the next 1,5 hour and we would have to wait until after their lunch before they would drive us into the harbor.
At 1.00 pm we could finally go. According to the escort it would take maximum one hour because all the documents were ok and ready. All we needed to do was identify the car, check if everything was in one piece and have the documents signed off.
Michel got to the office, identified the car, checked if everything was in one piece (which it was) and then… waited for almost three hours next to the car for someone to come and sign off the papers.
By 5.30 pm we were at the airport to hand in the rental vehicle. Then searched for each other for about 45 minutes because Michel could not follow me to the rental car office with Panda and of course we got lost.
At 6.30pm we found a parking spot at a nearby Wallmart where we spent the night. We slept very well with our own bedding and pillows.
Today we have to drive south as much as possible because a lot of snow is expected this evening. People are talking about a big storm coming this evening. We’ll see what a big storm means to people around here. I am sure Panda will get us through whatever happens.