Wednesday, 22 February 2012

MAR CARIBE











New territory at last! Since my previous post from Bolivar city Leana and I crossed the bridge over the Orinoco River on our way North towards the Caribean coast of Venezuela. After a few uneventful cycling days we reached the town of Barcelona where we spent some time working on the bikes (the rear hubs on both our bikes were giving problems, so Leana bought 2 new hubs and I did the replacement job). From Barcelona we moved in a Westward direction, and our first sighting of the Caribean wasn’t at all impressive, as I´d imagined it may be (oil terminals and tankers lurking offshore in the haze). Further West at the coastal town of Higuerote Leana´s computer was stolen from the table in front of our room, so she had to replace it at great expense. Maintenance is not a priority in this country, and even on the highways we had to dodge the roadside vegetation and the potholes = often squeezing us into the way of the traffic. Although the coastal route offered spectacular scenery at times, the hills were often incredibly steep and the road disappeared every now and then. Cars couldn´t pass that way, and we both ruined our sandals dragging the bikes through the mud – again! Our timing was also not so great, as we arrived at this popular coastal area on the Friday night of the Carnival long weekend. We managed to find an overpriced little room in Chuspa, and we were pleased to eventually find our way out to the street the following morning amongst the local revelers scoffing their breakfast beers. Venezuelans don´t seem to do much other than driving like hell, drinking as though there is no tomorrow, and making as much noise as possible. The night after Chuspa we camped at a beach amonst the locals, but we didn´t get much sleep. We found ourselves in the middle of a ´´Battle of the Bands´´ as our neighbours tested their huge sound systems against each other – and by morning there were just a bunch of ragged distorted speakers blaring in the breeze. It hadn´t been our intention to go to the capital, but we climbed the hill through several tunnels and arrived in Caracas on the Monday of Carnival weekend – the place was totally deserted as everyone was away for the festival. We´ve stayed in the city for a second day, and tomorrow we will probably have to make our way out through the traffic back to the highway out of this place. Thanks to Dave and Ralph for donations, and thanks to Martie and everyone who sent an SMS (and thanks to Olga and Leana for looking after this vagrant). Daily distances cycled since my last post from Bolivar have been:- Peaje Camp 95 km; Anaco 108 km; Barcelona 90 km; Puerto Piritu 60 km; Cupira 104 km; Cuacagua 101 km; Higuerote 46 km; Chuspa 40 km; Naiguata 64 km; Macuto 27 km; and Caracas 37 km. The total distance cycled so far in South America is 24 472 km, and the total distance cycled so far on this trip is 90 959 km.

Monday, 6 February 2012

EL RETORNO











Here I am back in Bolivar city, in the centre of Venezuela, where I was more than 6 weeks ago. In that time I have cycled 3 494 km to Manaus on the Amazon river in Brasil (and back the same way again!). In the process my odometer clicked over to 90 000 km for this trip.Leana has been with me again since Manaus, so at least things are not exactly the same as they were on the way there. On the way South I’d been camping all the time, but thanks to Leana we have now stayed in rooms quite often on the return trip. Sometimes we did camp in the same places where I’d been before, meeting “old” friends again such as Antonio with Brasilian flag (we camped at his roadside bar). I also made some new friends, like the puppy in picture at the little roadside restaurant where I´d camped before the puppy arrived (the people there gave me free supper before, and now they did it again!). I’ve also seen some things which I missed on the way South, such as the impressive Kama Falls on the Gran Sabana (where we met the only other touring cyclist on this road – Czech ¨George¨ cycling off the beaten track from Alaska to the South). Oh yes, we crossed the Equator again on our way North (the 5th time for me). The weather hasn’t been the same either, and on the return trip we’ve experienced cooler weather, often with cloud cover and light rain during the day. So far we have been fortunate with the breeze in our favour much of the time as well. We also haven’t strangled each other yet, although I did notice Leana’s hands twitching once or twice! Now we’re taking a little break at Bolivar city on the giant Orinoco river, and we’re staying in a little backpacker hotel in the historic part of town next to the Plaza Bolivar and the historic cathedral (I’d rather not mention the gradient of the little hill we had to climb up in order to get here – my poor worn-out old bike Saartjie gave a few alarming spits and gulps on the way up!). I’m looking forward to the road from here onwards, as this is where we will cross the river bridge and head into new territory for a change! Daily distances cycled since my last report from Manaus are:- Da Rey 64 km; PresidenteFiguera 68 km; Da Tia 22 km; PostoAbonari 76 km; Vila Jundia 134 km; Nova Colina 98 km; Rorainopolis 43 km; Nova Paraiso 36 km; Carracarai 127 km; Mucajai 87 km; Bao Vista 63 km; Rosa De Saron 106 km; Vila Indigeno 92 km; Santa Elena (back in Venezuela) 40 km; San Francisco De Yuruani 72 km; Salto Kama 52 km; Las Claritas 120; El Dorado 93 km; Tumeremo 69 km; Guasipati 60 km; Upata 101 km; Puerto Ordaz 107 km; and Cd Bolivar 70 km. The total distance cycled so far in South America alone is 23 699 km, and the total distance for this trip so far is 90 186 km.