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


Petrol station in Santa Elena

Salto Catedral

El Abismo

Friday 16 - Saturday 17 August

Next was a quick visit to Quebrada de Jaspe waterfall, where a guy who failed to get up a steepish slope in his Suzuki Vitara told his wife that it could only be done in a proper four wheel drive, pointing at the two wheel drive landy easily cresting the rise. The falls were not too impressive so early in the morning, they are at their best at midday when the light shines on the red rocks, so we thought to come back later. We were stopped at the military checkpoint nearby, the squaddie carefully checking our documents. He wasn't too happy about us overstaying our visa, but some fast talking convinced him to let us go, but he told us we'd get a fine at La Linea, the Brazilian frontier.

Arriving in the last town in Venezuela, Santa Elena de Uairen, we filled up with diesel, triple the price of the rest of the country for foreigners (but still cheaper than in Brazil, hence long queues of lorrys), and went to find the Guardia base after some breakfast. The Captain was out playing baseball, the preferred 'sport' here, so we headed to the ground to see what the story was. Predictably, the halfshaft hadn't arrived yet, so after managing to do a couple of emails before the dead slow connection soon disappeared altogether, we drove the 90kms west to the hippie settlement of El Pauji, stopping on the way at Salto Cathedral.

You looking at me?

Quality service

Landy gets its first two punctures...

...and the damaged bumperettes fixed

After a close encounter with a large green and black snake, first one seen in Venezuela, the evening passed chatting to a Brazilian guy and his Belgian doris who travel around on the proceeds of selling their homemade jewelry. This was our first real exposure to Brazilian Portuguese... err, what did he say, again? In the morning we woke to find the spare we put on the day before was flat, our second puncture of the trip. It was a slow leak so after re-inflating it we walked up the nearby Woipan tepuy to El Abismo and admired the views across the 300 metre drop into thick Brazilian rainforest before returning to Santa Elena. The halfshaft wasn't there but a quick phone call to Dunsfold confirmed it was actually coming, however it wouldn't arrive until next week now.

On the way to...

...some chilling...

...with a pot of gold

A visit to a cauchera got the tubes replaced in the two flats, plus the bumperettes damaged by all the jacking up in the jungle were bent back and welded along with the exhaust end pipe, broken off when T reversed into a tree at Copan 6 months ago. Stocking up with a few supplies we headed off to camp in the savannah. Saturday was chance to top up the transfer box oil, clean out the air filter and take the horn to bits which had also ceased to function since its Canaima jungle experience. It turned out to be beyond repair so we zoomed back to Santa Elena to get a replacement but the shops were closing when we got there.

The annual fair is on for a month in the town at the moment, so as it is T's birthday tomorrow we went to check out the action. The evening show was provided by an awesome troupe of Brazilian dancers dressed as indian squaws. Unfortunately we didn't have the camera with us but suffice to say we're very much looking forward to Brazil now.

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