Venezuela is another one of those countries whose problems have eclipsed all it’s other positive aspects. The face it, or Chavez, shows to the world is something that would seem old fashioned 20 years ago; The reality is something quite different.
Waiting for my bike to arrive and then clear customs, I stayed just outside of Caracas- I could get to customs easily, but I wasn’t in the boonies. Despite this, I was still ‘in Caracas’ when it came to the basketball score murder rate, though I never felt worried. The locals were always making sure I was alright, telling me when I might want to stick close to home, or when problems were happening. Throughout my customs ordeal, this never changed- the people were almost oppressively concerned about me and made returning ‘home’ a treat every night.
Unfortunately, once I got the bike out, I had to ride south fairly quickly. The official exchange rate is about half the real rate, and the bank machines don’t take foreign cards; I was down to my emergency money and so, it was time to move.
The basically free fuel kept the moving cheap- filling up with 30 liters would give me change from a quarter and a dime. The decent roads kept the moving fast and fun, though both also kept lots of old fashioned American steel on the road to be driven with zeal, if not flair…
That being sad, the riding really was wonderful- almost like English back roads in places. Then it was over a wonderful set of high hills into the savanna… And views that would never be mistaken for England.
Hitting the border town of St. Elena didn’t change anything; despite having the dual curse of being on the border and having regular tourists (for the hiking), the people were still amazingly friendly.
And there were other riders!
But, after a short stay for a Brazilian visa, I was off again, always riding through the next turn of the road to see what would appear…