Wednesday, 22 February 2012
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.