Tuesday, 13 December 2011
From Puerto Carreno in Columbia I had to cross the mouth of the Rio Meta in a small boat to Puerto Paez in Venezuela, and then I had to take the car ferry across the mighty Orinoco river. From there I could take the road East towards Bolivar city and central Venezuela. I stamped out of Columbia at the local immigration office in town, where I was informed that there was indeed a Venezuelan passport control point in Puerto Paez. Unfortunately there was no such thing, and I had to cycle 100 km South up the Orinoco river (and back) to Puerto Ayacucho where I could officially be stamped into Venezuela. (Finding the immigration office was a mission in itself, as the place was in a shed in the industrial area way out of town). Further, I was reliably informed that the road through this part of Venezuela was really good all the way to Bolivar city. On the contrary, the very rutted and poorly constructed tarred road comes and goes - with the unpaved sections easier to cycle on. Of course, in isolated areas there are usually lots of interesting people, and this area has been no exception. I´ve camped at farms, roadside bars, cock-fighting clubs, and in mud huts in small communities. One day I spotted a water tap at a bodega, and when I stopped there to fill up I met the 3 stooges in picture (they were working their way through a case of beer which they´d bought there, and insisted that I help them with the task). This route roughly followed the huge Orinoco river, and every day I crossed tributaries which are big rivers on their own. There are also some indigenous tribes living in the area, and one day I came across a group of men on bicycles, wearing their traditional g-strings (they wouldn´t let me take a picture of them). There´s not much in the line of road signs indicating distances, and the few such signs have been comically incorrect (one needs a sense of humour when distances indicated to the next town are 40 or 60 km short). However, without too much ado I´ve managed to reach Bolivar city, and soon I´ll start cycling in a Southerly direction. Daily distances cycled since I crossed the river from Columbia into Venezuela have been:- Pavoni 39 km; Puerto Ayacucho 76 km; Pavoni (return) 65 km; Tirital 80 km; Bicochuelo 94 km; Caicara 113 km; Maripa 103 km; Santa Jose Pao 104 km; Curiapo 104 km; Cd Bolivar 110. The total distance cycled so far in South America is 20 205 km, and the total for this trip is 86 692 km.