August 2002 - big trip - diary - venezuela - august 2002


El Capitan

Welding a plate onto the axle

Finally removed, the damage is clear

Wednesday 31 July - Thursday 1 August

We took the first ferry across the river with the Toyotas that were stranded with us, the drivers having taken a small boat home the night before and returning in the morning. With it being so early we had to wait around before phoning Caracas for a new axle. Still totally knackered and covered in mud after our 5 day ordeal, we stopped opposite the hospital to enjoy some breakfast when a Range Rover turned up driven by the captain of the local National Guard. A quick chat with him and we were whisked to the barracks where his mechanic whipped off the stub axles and diff and, after an incredibly difficult extraction which took most of the afternoon, he got the broken axle out. We were given the run of the place, food, drinks, whatever we wanted while a car was sent to Caracas to get hold of a new axle. B was also packed off to the hospital after 6 days of tummy troubles, where some suitable drugs were provided, all courtesy of the good Captain Sanchez. While we were waiting we decided to take the easy way to Canaima - in a plane.

Our airport chauffeur

Beside the plane

Winding up the spring

Cockpit, all in Polish

First class

Good views through the broken window

Thanks to our new friends we got a flight on a cargo plane, an old looking '98 Antonov that hasn't changed its design for 50 years, a bit like the landy! Everything is written in Polish, stuff like WYWOLAINE ZALOGI, but the pilot seemed to know what he was doing. Sharing the space with boxes of outboard motor oil, tomatos, food, beer and three giant fish was fine as we admired the stunning views during the half hour flight. Looking down on the jungle broccoli below, we were glad not to be still in it.

Views of giant tepuys...

...getting nearer... Canaima

Our pilot happened to be the husband of the doris who owns the poshest place in Canaima, Waku Lodge, and despite our moans of being poor and wanting to sleep in our hammocks he gave us two nights in the luxurious rooms, food included and the trip to Angel falls for $150 each. One night in the place costs $100 normally. He told the manager to give us a good price, 'they're friends of El Capitan in Paragua', wicked! Maybe there is something in this Ying/Yang stuff.


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