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


I like putas, me, like

The Armoury

Filo and Daisy

Saturday 3 - Monday 12 August

Back at the Army guard post the new halfshaft had arrived, but it wasn't for a Defender so we spent the rest of Saturday catching up on the ihana diary entries and sorting out the mess in the landy a bit. The best offer of a night out wasnt very appealing so B crashed in a top bunk in the barracks whilst T slept in the rooftent in the driveway. On Sunday we put the diff and the right hand driveshaft back on and changed the emulsified oil in the transfer box.

Paying for the trip to Angel Falls had left us low on cash, so we caught the bus to the nearest bank, an hour away in Cuidad Piar and did some email too. Back in Paragua the Captain spoke to his landy contact who told us he thought he had a complete landy transmission in Caracas. We bled the brakes which had stopped working in the jungle whilst we waited around for the supplier to call back, but by Wednesday he still hadn't so we decided to landy off in two wheel drive to Puerto Ordaz and order a halfshaft from England.

After updating the site in a Sambil-esque shopping centre, we met the Captain who'd driven up from Paragua unexpectedly and he said we could stay at his cousin Filos' house, where we enjoyed more excellent hospitality for a couple of days. The brakes were still well spongy on the drive up so we changed the rear brake shoes for the first time on the trip, which has done the trick. Its a massive help to have stopping power again. After changing the engine and gearbox oils and stocking up the landy larders, we hit the town on Friday night. Whilst having a quick beer in Aji bar four armed policemen came in and started checking everyones ID's. When it came to our turn all we could produce was a photocopy of B's passport between us, which they weren't happy about, apparently we should carry the originals with us at all times. We were escorted outside and told we had to go to the police station in the waiting meat wagon. Deciding a pumping disco was a better idea than a couple of hours in the cop shop, we waited until no-one was looking, sauntered off up the street and escaped the long arm of the law in a taxi. Taxi drivers are a bit nervous here at the moment as eight of them have been robbed and murdered in the last ten days! The kidnapping and ransoming of a local businessman called Leo has prompted many to write 'free Leo' on their cars. Despite the mad goings on we had a great time in the city.

Leo has been taken

Jam jars make good glasses

Eiffel designed bridge

We gave Dunsfold landrovers in England a call and they very kindly said they'd send us over a halfshaft, all we had to do was pay the shipping. Thanks to our National Guard connections we arranged for it to be sent to the barracks at Santa Elena, beside the Brazilian border.

Before we get to Santa Elena there lies the Gran Sabana, one of the best parts of Venezuela, a huge expanse of national park full of tepuys and waterfalls. The main road to Brazil goes right through this area with some long dirt roads leading to the more interesting places. Taking the first of these we arrived at Iboribo, a camp beside the Rio Aponwao which falls 110m off a cliff a short boat ride downstream. After a good nights sleep with only a few puri-puris for the first hour or two after sundown we got up early and inquired about a ride down to the falls. Unfortunately the locals wanted a ridiculous $20 each for the 20 minute trip. Disappointed and annoyed we told them where to stick their canoe and headed off for the farthest point of the road, 90kms in at Karuai falls.

El Danto waterfall

On your knees and pray

Pemon Indians get a lift

The last part of the track had some fun rocky bits which our half disabled landy handled with surprising ease. We came across a group of six lads in their three Toyota Landcruisers. We stood and chatted for a couple of hours while the sun burned us and they got gradually more and more drunk on the rum they'd been drinking all morning. B couldn't drink due to his reoccuring dodgy stomach, brought on by too many beers on Friday night. We both had a quick spin in one of the Toyotas, the 4.5 litre petrol engines having way more power than the Landy, the steering and pedal feel is more akin to a Starlet than a 4x4 but they were quite impressive. The lads were, in turn, well impressed by our trip and the Landy, videoing us and it. They wanted us to travel with them on the rest of their Gran Sabana trip but they'd already seen a couple of days worth of things we hadn't so we made vague plans to meet again in Santa Elena. They'd been to the falls at Aponwao and said they were fantastic and cost $4 a ride. With this info, we resolved to return and get a trip for the right price.

Chance meeting...

...makes new friends

70 horses, you must be joking

T tests a Toyota

Long flat graded roads...

...on the way to Karuai Falls

Reaching the end of the road with the three locals we'd had bumping along on the roof of the car since Kavanayen, 20kms ago, the Karuai falls were a short walk away and worth the trip. After a quick bath in the river we left to find a camp spot in the middle of nowhere.

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