May 2002 - big trip - diary - venezuela - may 2002


View from the apartment

Street chess

Plaza Altamira, click for the full effect

Tuesday 21 May - Wednesday 29 May

During the week we visited the Panteon Nacional, the resting place of Simon Bolivar and his left hand man, an irish geezer called Daniel O'Leary. The president opens the casket every 25 years to make sure the body is still inside but we weren't even allowed to mount the rostrum to take a decent photo, so sorry Rog - obviously they didn't realize who we are.

Caracas is a busy place, the main motorway through the middle of it is almost always jammed with cars. Fortunately there is a good metro system but it doesn't stretch much outside the main spine of the city. As in all big latin american cities, a large amount of leisure time is spent prancing about in big shopping centres, a good place to check out the talent. Otherwise theres not much to do, as we weren't really enthused by the available art galleries and exhibitions, until the weekend when we dragged ourselves out on the town again and B managed to get an oil change.

Disco midgets...



...and babes on bikes

Monday was high time to be on the road again, so we headed east along the coast towards the ferry port at Puerto Cruz, with the idea of spending some time on the caribbean Isla Margarita. Due to a lot of dilling about we only made it about half way there so we camped on the beach at Rio Chico which was cool. Next day we passed a large expanse of water with tons of flamingoes in it. B was highly amused as T attempted to get a close-up picture by sneaking along the beach crouched over double in an SAS style stealth approach, spotted about 3 miles away by the birds who strolled arrogantly off in the other direction.

Beach camp at Rio Chico

Pro-Chavez slogans

Lots of pink bird things

Hector with his wickedly coloured car

Later we arrived at the ferry port and got some tickets, $35, for the 7am sailing the next morning. Not looking forward to the early start we went for an explore along the coast, finding some great beaches and a large cement factory. Looking for a place to camp as evening fell we arrived in Los Altos and were treated to a fantastic view, plus had the luck to find Hector Perez's hacienda who caters for tourists with a campground in his garden. We were the only visitors and were treated to some arepas and home-grown coffee while swapping travellers tales. We caught a few hours sleep until 5:30am had the merry group ferrybound, camping cost for the night was a union jack sticker. The drive there was interesting, as the rain began to fall the landy was merrily sliding about under braking on the steep descents, a distinct lack of control or stopping power! This was our second high jinx as the previous day we had to use a ditch to stop the landy sliding backwards down a mega-steep climb. Time to invest in some new rubber as 40,000kms has put paid to our Michelins, the compound has lost all its grip.



El ferry

Old ferry

Fortunately we got there alive and in time but discovered an extra payment of $15 was required because the landy is above standard car height, a right rip off as the ferry only has one car deck which caters for all vehicles, including lorries. Transit time is 4 hours, which was smooth and passed quickly with a few games of scrabble in spanish.

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