Day 292 – Ciudad Bolivar to Piritu, Venezuela

Day 292 – Ciudad Bolivar to Piritu, Venezuela       06/09/11       Mileage: 201

Had I known I would be hit by a truck later today, I would have elected to just stay in bed. But, lacking that foreknowledge, Ian and I wandered out for breakfast at a street vender stand we found around the corner from the hotel. The vender ended up being a real nice guy, and being from Guyana he spoke English as well. We chatted for a bit while Ian and woofed down 2 hotdogs and some bad bubblegum flavor soda…not exactly the breakfast of champions, but it will do.

Once packed we split for the road to Caracas. The riding was hot and boring but we were making good time.

Getting low on fuel we stopped for gas, had some lunch and lingered in the restaurants A/C for a while. It’s at this point that my day went pear shaped. The highway was a 4 lane dived highway (2 lanes in either direction) with u-turns crossing the dividing median. We had stopped on the east bound side, but had to cross the highway to continue on the westbound side to Caracas. There was no entrance ramp per say, just a paved section connecting the service road and the highway. I was in front and as I pulled close to the highway I looked to my left and saw a truck in the right lane and another truck a little farther back in the left lane, so I turned onto the highway and accelerated toward the u-turn in the median. Having crossed both lanes I was slowing down and just about to turn onto the center median when the truck in the left lane slammed into me from behind. The bike went down on the right side along with me and luckily we both tumbled off onto the median clear of the path of the skidding truck. Ouch, that’s gonna leave a mark…and leave several marks it did. Fortunately though, none of them were that serious, except for my severely bruised ego. You see, the difficult thing to admit is that I was at fault. I put myself in front of that speeding truck, not the other way around…so ultimately I have no one to blame but myself. Was the truck speeding…pretty clearly it was, but that is moot and nothing new for Venezuelan roads.

The good news is that I got up and walked away…and miraculously the KLR was able to ride away. My armored Aerostitch Darien jacket and pants paid for themselves many times over.

The KLR took a pretty good beating to the rear factory cargo rack, the side cases and rack and the right side engine guard, but she will live to fight another day. For now though, Ian and I decided to stay put in Piritu so I can get my shit together and tend to the bike. After filling out some paperwork at the town highway patrol office, we got a room and then set out to try and get my side cases beat back into shape.

We found a repair shop /metal shop a few blocks away and the guys there set about making my side cases into boxes again.

The guys did such a good job on the side cases, I went and bought a case of beer to say thanks which started things down a slippery slope….and in fact after several more cases of beer it turned into a party of sorts!

This guy really though I would trade my Arai XD3 for the salad bowl and shoe lace he calls a helmet. Given todays incident, I think I’ll stick with my Arai….but thanks!  lol

In the middle of this a barber showed up and gave a few guys haircuts…including Ian…you just can’t make this shit up.

 

I nearly bought the farm a few hours ago, now I’m half drunk off my ass partying with a bunch of Venezuelan metal shop guys getting haircuts. Life is weird..and good…

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Day 291 Santa Elena to Ciudad Bolivar, Venezuela

Day 291 Santa Elena to Ciudad Bolivar, Venezuela       06/08/11       Mileage: 442

John was up and out the door shortly after 5am this morning as he wanted to get to Ciudad Bolivar to get some local info on visiting Angel Falls before the business day ended. Ian and I had already pretty much written of going to the falls so we left at a more leisurely 8am. Our first stop was to get gas on the way out of town. Now, I had heard of the cheap gas here in Venezuela, but even I was taken aback by just how cheap….we’re talking 4.5 CENTS per gallon! Yep, you read that right…we filled up our motorcycles for under 25 cents….and that was for premium! Regular unleaded was only 3.5 cents per gallon!

After filling up the pump read 1.45 Bolivars……there are 8 Bolivars to 1 US dollar! 

That was a refreshing change after Brazil where gas is at least double of what it costs in the US. With our tanks filled for mere pennies we headed north into the Gran Sabana which is a beautiful place and a joy to ride through.

The Gran Sabana is particularly famous for its many waterfalls, so we took some time to visit a few.

After leaving the Gran Sabana there was nothing really of note…just laying down miles down long, hot, sweaty roads.

Some roadside art…

“I want to look in your bags.” Dude, you got the AK-47, you can look wherever you like!  😉

We arrived in Ciudad Bolivar right at dusk and found a hotel. We got in touch with John who had found a hotel nearby so we met for dinner. He found a flight the next morning out to the camp near Angel Falls, but was still not sure if he would get to see them. Ian and I were going to continue on to Caracas, so after we dinner I bid farewell to John. It has been almost 3 weeks we’ve been traveling together and it has been great fun. I hope we get to ride together again in some other far flung corner of the globe…

Day 290 Santa Elena, Venezuela

Day 290 Santa Elena, Venezuela       06/07/11       Mileage: Local miles

We were up pretty early and after drying out our camping gear, we went straight over to the insurance broker.

It took $%#&$% ages to process and there seemed to be a lot of trouble with mine in particular, so Ian and John left and went to get started at the border.

Meanwhile the agent said their system wouldn’t take my license plate number, and after several calls to the main office, it still was not resolved. This being Latin America, now of course it was siesta time, so they said to come back after 2pm. You’re f—king joking, right? So I left and went to the border and found John and Ian waiting to process their paperwork…why…siesta of course!

 Luckily by now we only had to wait about half an hour, but I still had no insurance. Undeterred, I decided to just try and pass off my NJ insurance as international insurance and hope they buy it, because I sure as shit ain’t going back to that insurance broker to watch the grass grow. So when the customs staff returned from siesta, they called us to the window and we bombarded them with our paperwork, which I think helped hide the fact that I didn’t have the insurance document that John and Ian had. But when she did directly asked me about insurance, I said that my insurance was good in every country in South America …and she bought it. Nice!

Hugo Chavez says welcome!

Border formalities complete, Ian and John had to return to town to send a few emails related to shipping their bikes home, and unfortunately by the time that was done it was too late in the day to even ride, so we ended up back in the same exact hotel room we left this morning. Oh well, that’s just the way it happens sometimes…