approximate route: La Guajira (Punta Gallinas), to Venezuela, fast run to Ciudad Bolivar, Salto Angel (Angel Falls), Gran Sabana, Kavanayén, Brazilian border at Santa Elena, fast run back across Venezuela, Merida, border at Cucutá, Pamplona
Yesterday was lazy. I woke and got a good, though small, breakfast. Luz Mila is the name of the hospedaje and the name of the proprietor. Right when I arrived, I asked about the restaruante and she said what items where available to order and I was so tired I really didn't feel like making a choice, though I wasn't at all in a bad mood and on the contrary was very content. (Just more detail for the end of the day: I was tired as all hell (and really liked seeing the dunes on the way out of Taroa) and saw the little veer to the left that one of the local guys on the way told me about and pulled into the hospedaje and was happy to see others. I parked the bike a little ways off and started walking toward the people, which looked like many locals packed around a little locally built house with one guy in a hammock. I was very happy to have a woman, which turned out to be Luz Mila, and I asked and she told me about the room options. Maybe unusual in the culture, she approached me, which really makes you feel welcome and more comfortable. I couldn't speak much with the others, but I was able to join the circle too.) Because of that, I just said, "Necessito mucho comida," hoping that she would put out a recommendation. She said one of the fish types, paygo, or something, which I think was snapper, and I said, "muy bien." So, back to the morning, she always gives me two arepas, corn based bread patty things, for breakfast, while everyone else gets one, though for all that I know, i may pay for them. Also, after every meal, my plate in entirely cleaned which is typical for me every time that I eat, while everyone leaves at least something; I'm always hungry, tengo hambre. That's good in the morning, I ended up hanging out with the American Sussy, Canadian Gin, and German but living in Colombia Mark. I took a ride, meaning by myself, but then one of the local guys jumped on, and I went to a beach down toward the end of the point. A beautiful beach, actually sandy for as deep as I went, and nice cold, but not clear, water. There was a small cliff on the right side and rocks extending out on the left side. I went back after swimming and having a good time and hung out with my fellow English speakers. We hung out and did a bunch of talking, but then went down the cliff of the marsh and walked and swam among the inshore water and mangroves and took photos of the out of this world scenery with the desert and dunes meeting the ocean and green contrasting green mangroves. The four of us swam. We went back up and sat in the hammocks and talked, dog birth control, circumcision, and then some funny videos and I don't remember much else what, but just a funny fun conversation. "No, this spoon is still dirty." The day was just lazy other than the ride to the beach and the swim in the lagoon, which is usually not my preference, but was excellent giving the campanions and the long hard day before of riding. The girls and others were talking of some late swimming, maybe skinny dipping, but those plans didn't pan out, to my dissappointment. The day was Sussy's birthday, compleano, 28 years. The girls got real dressed up for dinner and I was just wearing my typical shorts and tshirt but nothing really took place. Another good day, happy.
Today, was good too. I was one of the first up and got my breakfast, which I cherish. I was planning to do some reading of Doctor Zhivago but the big guy that lives here, Luz Mila's brother, came here yelling, in a loud funny way as you'd expect by looking at him, that a tiburon grande was caught on the beach and we'd leave after breakfast. We all jumped in his old I think early 80s Suburban painted orange and with all of the door hinges reinforced with more welding after who knows what happend to them and we all went down the rocky bumpy road to the playa and saw a massive tiburon mantillo, hammerhead, being butchered. The fins were already caught off and were worth a load of money, even in Colombia and not in Asia. A bunch of babies were out of the shark and after butchering, a bunch more whole babies came out of the mommy shark. It was a cool experience though I didn't like the fact that it was a mommy shark. We headed back to camp and the folks that hadn't eaten yet ate and we talked more and spent far too much time figuring out what to do. I just wanted to ride my motorcycle down to the dunes and if a girl wanted to go on the back cool. After a load of time and no one with a view, Sus decided to rent a bicycle and M went along finally, though not with the best attitude. They took off on the bikes and I and G waited a bit and cleaned one of the dog's, Monyeko, ears since it was badly infected. We took off after that and the dog hated us. J loved it and yelled in excitement a few times and grabbed and pulled her arms tighter the more throttle I gave it. The sand was a bit of a chore and the bike flung between truck tracks side to side and I was dabbing my feet and dragging them to keep the bike up right. I don't think J quite knew what was going on through the sand and sometimes rearranged her position which makes it even more difficult for me. I think her reposition sliding back on the seat because she may have been worried about sliding too far forward and hurting my nuts, which P also always did. This really isn't a concern, since my arms and body strength can hold anything back if the health and comfort of my nuts are in question. We made it all the way to the big dune and climbed it and ran into the Aussie's but didn't see S and M. We were a bit worried so jumped back on the DR and headed back. We found them after M was flagging us. We gave them some water and talked and said that there was only about another 15 minutes. J and I sat and talked a bit under a tree waiting after we got to the point to branch off of the main road and the Copper Canyon was a topic. The cyclists showed up shortly and we all went up to the edge of the dune and climbed it in amazement, leaving the bikes at the bottom. We all decided to walk to the ocean, after some back and forth discussion, which was a bit of a walk and the distance was deceiving, as we figured that it would be, but we went for it anyway and loved the beach and ocean and I always love going into the ocean, the heart of the world. We went back on the beach and sat and ate, as the girls, as all girls do, packed a good lunch, and we talked a bit more. We all prepped for it and heading over the khaki, rolling dunes and through the vegetation and cactii and climbed the last huge dune. The walk was not nearly as long as I expected and not tiring at all. As the sun was now low, we made a break at the top of the dunes and took some shadow photos. The same two jumped on the bicis and J and I on the bike. We rode back to the fort, and met two young boys that were going to tend to a herd of goats and asked us for water, and got waters and waiting a bit then jumped back and headed toward the cyclists to give them water and found them much closer than expected at a neighbor's house and they had some aguardiente waiting. The guy there worked at Luz Mila and was totally trashed but was still driving that cool Toyota around. Haha. We went back to the fort for the last time. Most of us ordered tiburon, the same one that was caught and we saw butchered. It was served ground or chopped and was delicious but no one else was quite into it. I cleaned my plate and cleaned J's as well. Everybody at the table mentioned that my accent is good. They said that it may be that it matches my quiet personality well, the the three nationalities present all said that it was definitely enjoyable. There was a bit of the Southern US in it, but there was a bit more to it. After various discussions at the table after dinner and learning that Warrick (?) made a living as a writer and that that was S's dream, the two girls and myself decided to go swimming in the lagoon, as there was perported to be phosphuresence. I waited for them to get ready, as all girls take time, then we found the trail down the steep cliff, following the goat shit and some 4x4 markers to the shoreline. As soon as we first splashed our foot into the water, the water sparkled (but it did require movement). We walked deeper into the water past the deep squishy mud near the bank that squeezes between your toes, the grass in the midsection, and the sharp rocks that feel like the organic stuff that crushes under your feet along the rocks at the FT Inlet park, with some oyster shells mixed in, before getting into deep enough water and jumping in and swimming, but mostly just hovering. We were all in absolute amazment. If your movement was at the surface, the sparkling would be in a droplet flying through the air and look like many tiny fireworks. If my arm was held near the surface, then brought up above it, the sparklings would glide off my arm and fall back into the water and some would stay in my arm air for a while and I did in fact capture one on my finger. If the movement was below the surface, no sparlings were created, but instead one big glowing light was created, such as when paddling your feet or arms. This was an awesome experience for me. We all got out of the water, still in bliss and walked back to the trail up the cliff and we all went to bed, still extremely happy.
The day started slow. I did a decent bit of reading of Zhivago, then finally decided that I should ride to the western point of our peninsula and back to the large sand dunes to see if any of them met the ocean after dropping down. I still hung out at the table for a bit, sharing conversation with the three women, Y, J, and S, before finally getting up and cranking the DR.
At dinner that night, I began to loose interest in the turn of the conversation and was just finishing my beer and remembered that I'd like to go swimming still, and that maybe I'd have a good partner. I was sitting at one head of the table and outstretched my arms so that my fingers were wrapped around both long parallel edges and said with all attention, "Who wants to go swimming?" It was a good night.
We all stayed in Punta Gallinas for another very good day or two before everyone left. The girls and Austrailians left by boat, while Marco left by gasoline truck. I had to change out a flat tire the day that everyone else left, then left myself the following the day. A hell of stay in Punta Gallinas; an awesome place, but it's the people that create stong memories and an impact.
Monyecho is a dog at the hospadaje. He is proportioned quite unfortunately. He is long and low, of a decent build. He has an unusually large head given his body shape and size. He has a disproportionately large wiener. His hair is white and thin, like a poodle. He's kinda ugly. Despite all of this against him, he's a happy dog and probably the best company of all the dogs here.
2011may6 Not that the sleep was so good, but I woke up happy to be. A beautiful place, swinging in a hammock in the wind, waking up for short periods and being able to judge the time by the presense of stars in the sky, visible water on either side... Breakfast and a bit of reading of Zhivago than I got packed and headed out. While the bike was on the center stand and loaded so that the front tire floated, I felt that the head bearings are shot, as there is a bit of notch at center. Shit. I followed my way in until I rounded the first bay, hondia?, where I stayed closer to the coast all the way around Portete and was able to haul ass along the coastal flats. I probably halved the ride time from my way out. At least I maybe saw a bit more of the interior. I saw the same kid at the little tienda that I stopped at on my way in so stopped again to talk. He seemed deeply interested in my travels and really liked to talk, even though my Spanish is still pretty elementary. All the other younger kids mostly laughed at me. I headed back to the main road and continued on at Uribia but stopped at Cuatrovias as my feet were hurting because they had been completely soaked in sweat for nearly the entire ride. I put my sandals on and ate some fish, then walked over to get some Venezualan gasolina and hit the road again. The fucked steering seems even more obvious on pavement. Now that I think of it, the bike felt a little weird after getting if off the boat in Cartagena, and notchiness may well describe it. It now seems worse after getting beat up on nasty dirt roads in the Guajira, but the bike only has 14k on it, it should be fine. Damn. I drove around Maicao for a bit, thinking of how badly big cities suck after being in the beautiful wild, while looking for a hotel. Finally found one acceptable, but no internet, Hotel Avenida. Shit. Played on the internet for awhile at a cafe then got dinner, pollo, I'm a little seafooded out. I'm thinking about asking one of the many bike shops in town tomorrow morning if they have the proper bearing and if they can swap them out tomorrow. I'm due for an oil change too. I'm probably putting too much emphasis on this and will just tighten the preload tomorrow if nothing else, but I don't like having major systems not ideal. I'll just find out in the morning, damn. I've also got my atm card expiring at the end of this month. I got Marco's address in Bogota to send it to, but still a pain in the ass and something that I should have taken care of before I left, but I only looked at my cc...shit. I'm still happy, especially after the perfect time in Gallinas, I just need to work through a couple things. I'm a little worried about crossing into Venezuala, but it'll probably be nothing. I've got other stuff going through my head, but it'll wait... I got back to the hotel and the guy behind the counter was drinking rum.
viernes 2011may13from handwriting
I haven't been sleeping worth a shit in these hammocks at Posada Don Carlos, much unlike Punta Galineas. I woke up around 6 and put my crap on my bike after checking the internet one last tim, sending an email to Dad that I'd be away from puter for 2 nights in case he had any questions about sending me my debit card(and maybe other stuff, pigtail and rocker). I had the smallish breakfast of Don Carlos, but lots of weak coffee, before waiting on Paul or awhile, who then said that he was waiting on me. Shit. He drove me to the Ciudad Bolivar airport. He's Belgian, and I asked him when I met him how he ended up in Ciudad Bolivar.
"I was a pilot for Air France. I was in Venezuela from a flight and decided to go to Canaima on a tour to see it. We went on a small 4 seat Cessna, and on that plane was a beautiful woman. Now she is my wife." A cool story I thought. On the way to the airport we talked about the town and other things. I like Paul, good guy to talk with. "These men in CB, are only good at 3 things: slieeping, drinking, and fucking. They'll wake up in the morning and try to decide what they'll do that day. By the time they make any progress, it's already too late, so they decide to wait until the next day, and start the process all over. At work, they mihgt do decient work until lunch. It's way downhill after that. They'll get pissed off if you ask anything after 3. The women are just used to the culture and give out sex..."
domingo 2011may15from handwriting
I only woke up once last night, but it was at 4 something, but I probably went to bed around 9p. As I lay in the hammock, listening to rain tap against the metal roof and the leaves around and drop down to the forest floor, and watch a second of light flash out int he forest, by a fire fly, I didn't think that I was mistaken hearing water lap against a shore not far from my feel. When I fisrt went to bed, I couldn't hear water nor see it. I got up to get my flashlight and water had indeed risen several horiz feet up to the edge of the structure. Dang. I lay back down. I got my phone and played tetris to entertain my mind, but that bore me after only two minutes. I thought, tryuing to entertain my mind. I thought about how good Puntas Gallinas was and the people there. I though about the guy running my tour isnt' the best. Just business, which I can like, but absolutely no tlaking otherwise, doesn't seem like he's having fun. I don't know his circumstances and he doesn't know mine. His name is Tony. I also tried to thing about what I'm going to do, but as usual that went nowhere. Tony came around and said that coffee swas ready. Ate crackers, coffee, coke and water, then in the boat. We bumped throught rapids and went places that I'd never expect a boat to go. Usu othboards and boats in general are run for long periods at constand speed, but these engines are run all over the place, from idle to wfo and in bt all varying loads. The driver will vary, depending on if he knows the water is shallow, or has obstructions, and often, the rought water is so turbulent that the prop doesn't know what to do and will strat cavitating. Whenever I get around these smaall boat w tiller outboards, I get a tenical interest again. No idea why. I should really do the v6 ob mc and 1000cc v2 cr500 barelled bike. Lots of splashing and absolutely constant rain made for not the best and a somewhat cold trip. On the hand, the amt of water was quite amazing. The trees adn branches in the water would hit their nat greq in the current and would sway to and fro really fast and would get the water dstrirring more and the branches and tree and leaves all voer the place. The forest was an amazing green with sometimes a unique tree much taller than the rest standing otu and above, like the poor kid in school getting singled out for being different. Water spills off teh top of the tepuis liek they are a gutter with the outlet clogged w leaves and so the water spills out over the top edge. Coulds mist everything with the tops fo the tepuis only rarely visilble, instead covered in a mystifying and beaut mist. Back to camp, Canaima, and the rain cont. Wait, and write.
Although I don't like to admit it, I think my perception of a place is heavily influenced by the people that I'm around when I'm there. PG had a striking landscape no doubt, but I think bc of the good travel companions there, that place was amazing to me and unforgettable, maybe never to be matched. The phos, dunes, lagoon, and sea were candy for the eye, but I hugely enjoyed my financial talks w Mark, travel stories w all, and .... I will remember that place as much for it's features as much as the people i met there. Canaima i sprobably as spectacular a place, no shortage of water. I know mistshrouded shear cliffs, making for waterfalls. However, I had no meaningful talks or relationships whiel there. That makes the exp feel empty, like I saw and that was all. I like the idea of solitude and independence and this doens't destroy that notion, but it does make those arguments weaker, as I do enjoy social interaction more than I once thought. I hold solitude as good and special, but, maybe it's not as much as I thought. To be fair, this trip was also run with a schedule, while in PG I hardly even knew what month it was.
I woke up real early and started by looking around for gas. After asking some people, I found a place down the hill away from most of the town that had many 50gal barrels marked 'inflammible', but no one was around to ask and a few kids went running off when I came around. I told Guadalupe 830a for breakfast and the time was nearing so I went back up there and had a good breakfast, likely the best since Mexico. It was a good size plate with eggs and these bread things, plus lots of real good coffee, unlike most of what I've had around here, and lots of juice too. After that, I went back down the hill and a guy was working on his truck close to the cans so I asked him but he said the closest gas was at the airport at the beginning of the dirt road. Shit, that won't work; my plan was, if I could get fuel, to stay another night and go to the falls up a jeep trail. If I couldn't get fuel, I was going to head back to the main road as I think my amount of fuel is cutting it pretty close. I will for sure get a larger fuel tank for the next time that I do this. A DR again, but with one of those huge Aqualine tanks. I figured it wouldn't hurt to walk around a little more and I wanted to see the signs leaving town for distances, and when I did, at the main corner at probably 930a, some guys called me over for coffee. I said "No, gracias" and kept walking ahead. When I came back by, they asked for me to go over so I did and had some coffee and saw that they had a 24 pack of Polar Light and were a good way through it. I sat with them for just a little while and this is what I wanted: I know people have fuel around here, and I don't need that much, I just need to find someone willing to give me a bit. I asked and one guy offered and went to his house and came back with around a gallon, awesome. I got my bike and came back and filled up. We sat around for quite awhile, until noon I think, drinking beer. That stuff is only 3.5% alc, so you can drink bunches of them and never get past buzzed. The only theme that I remember is that Carlos, Charlie, had a distaste for Chavez. I finally got ready to go the falls, Salto Karauy(?), and Carlos went with and we headed down the very rough trail there. Cool stuff. A family was living there to help run a campimento I guess. As we came back and started nearing town, rain was failing like a son of a bitch, of course. Not much else to note for the day. I did go back to the same house for some real good dinner.
I may focus too much on taking photographs of everything. Sometimes, I may not even enjoy what I'm looking at because I'm too concerned about getting a photo. I've been making sure to enjoy the scenery before, after, or during photos, to make sure that I'm not missing out. I'm not sure if I wanted to say anything difinite good or bad by saying this, just wanted to make note.
Oh yeah, I've hit the second bird of the trip (unless maybe I've forgotten one...) while riding, the first being a black one around Acapulco. It was a little yellow bird and hit me in the left leg just above my boot. The hit didn't really hurt, since he's got so much feathers, probably better than a big bug. I'm pretty sure he was a goner after the collision, as I saw him briefly fluttering around on the asphalt in my rear view mirror.
random writing The head US army guy that was kicked out a while ago had a funny quote about having to go to some sort of formal get together: "I'd rather have you guys kick my ass than have to go to this ball. Too bad none of you could do it."
When I woke up, I strongly remembered a dream, it seems that I had late in sleep, while I was drifting between the dark of eyelids and the light of day, where a pretty girl was blocking a doorway and I reached my arm around her and grabbed her waist, just above the hip. I'm not sure I did or not, but I at least was about to say, "Excuse me," before I woke up. I'm not sure why this struck so strongly with me, and I felt like the girl was someone I know, but I can't figure out who. I did some internet browsing and research and bought a new travel insurance policy. I left and walked around the city at about 10a. I walked to the Plaza de Las Heroinas, and down the stairs that appeared to descend all the way to the river below and past the place where all the guys work out. I went back to Plaza Bolivar and sat there for a long time, with a wondering mind, feeling a little sad, and watching the pretty girls walk by. A guy probably about my age, who I think had some mental retardation, sat in front of me for awhile. One of his legs was longer than the other so his stride was not graceful. He seemed to wave to people randomly. He had short brown hair, was skinny, and probably about 5'8". Lots of other people, though older, also passed by with ungraceful strides. I sat there for a long time. I got up and walked back up hill and far west to Av7 and C 16 or so, then crossed back to my place. I walked near the cable car, which is still/always closed, and saw a picture of a pretty place and it looked like it had a picture of a beautiful place in Merida state with a road going to it in the background. May head up there, Merida ain't doing it for me.
"It is always the dissatisfied who triumph."
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