Well we have already been in Venezuela for almost 2 weeks
and it feels like we have just got here. We arrived in Caracas at 10pm Saturday
and were picked up by an arranged taxi, which was reassuring. We then spent 2 nights
in Caracas with a beautiful view over the city. We did not do much exploring as the
long trip from Australia took its toll and we basically slept the jet lag off.
Caracas is a sprawling city in a valley but extremely picturesque. The highlight was
a pair of Macaws flying over the city centre. Amazing.
Monday morning saw us picked up by taxi and taken to Puerto Cabello
to try free Lodzi. USD130 later we had checked into a Posada recommended by Mr and
Mrs Baller, a wonderful choice. After checking into a fanned room, we made our way
to the clearing agent who was expecting us!! They could not help us enough.
They had already started the paperwork as the ship had come in a week early and
after handing over the necessaries we prepared ourselves for a long wait and
A lot of backwards and forwards, Kerry and I resting by the
Posada plunge pool and playing pool we felt we were making progress and may get the
car by Thursday morning. On Thursday morning we prepared our day sack with the keys
and money. I then left to just check what was happening. After and hour I was
bundled into a car with 3 non English speaking people and driven 16k's away to the
Naval Port. I panicked a little as I tried to tell them I had no money or keys but
the guy sort of ignored my pleas. On arrival Robert jumped out the car with a set
of Bolt cutters and proceeded to cut the lock off the container. I confirmed this was
my car and they all signalled for me to open the vehicle.
Mmm - problem 1. After a heated
international exchange of sign language we all jumped back in the car to return to
What James didn't know was that person number 3 in the vehicle
was the customs officer!! She then wouldn't be ready till 3pm to return to do the check.
On returning with all the necessary keys etc, we offloaded a
very wet and musty Lodzi. She was checked over, very casually, by the customs officer
who then told us to load her back in the container and return to Customs.
"Tomorrow" we were told all we had to do was pay and the vehicle was free.
In the morning we paid up - a little more than we had expected as Customs had revalued
our car from USD 3,000 to USD10,000.
There was only one more issue - Customs were insisting
that they did not have to complete the carnet! An extremely well timed e-mail from friends
of ours Mr and Mrs Baller, who had been the Guinea Pigs 3 months earlier, insisting that
we needed the Carnet completed, saw Senor Hector getting the carnet completed within 2 hours.
After an afternoon of Customs threatening not to release the vehicle, at 5.20 pm
Friday evening we drove Lodzi out of the officials possession and straight to a
garage and filled up with diesel - £1.50 and we had a 110 litres.
The next day we drove about a 100km east and spent 2 days in the Henri Pittier
rainforest National Park, the first night camping in Vivi's back yard.
(an English speaking local into birds.) The second at Rancho Grande a incomplete 1930's
hotel now running as a very basic biological centre with hostel rooms.
We saw flocks of up to 80 Orange winged Amazon parrots and numerous other wonderful
birds, and a group of Howler monkeys. The park was beautiful, but the winding roads
were pretty scary!
James also had the first car accident. While reversing, this stupid
tree came roaring round the corner and hit the back of the vehicle. A cracked fibreglass
truckman, but not serious. Lesson learnt.
We then drove 400km east along the north coast and spent two
nights camped on a paradise beach, Playa Vellocito. Check the room with a view in gallery.
We took some time out, played some beach baseball, no bat required, with the locals and
did some snorkelling around the local Islands.
Wednesday we left the North Coast and drove 300km south,
over the Orinoco river and into Ciudad Bolivar. While waiting at the Airport for a guide
to direct us to the posada, we decided we needed something to keep us occupied. We had
picked up a coconut at the beach so James got the leatherman knife (thanks Gerry and Lucius
and proceeded to dig the flesh out.
Well as you can imagine, an accident waiting to happen! The
knife slipped and went straight into the flesh of my thumb - quite deep and long.
Kerry's first aid training already put to good use. Three stitches later in the local
A&E (seen immediately and very clean!) and Kerry had first taste of driving to get to
a beautiful, German owned tour company Posada, where we are now camped up waiting to
go on a rainforest hike to Angel Falls.
We are doing a 3 day, 2 night tour into Canaima
as you can only fly in and then boat up to the falls, so Lodzi will have a good rest.
We will be blowing our budget but it is "Angel Falls"!
The people here have been exceedingly friendly and we are
having an awesome time. The scenery is breathtaking and always changing. We have
found the roads in general very good although have dodged a few pot holes where you
could lose a vehicle.The place is also very clean on the whole, a pleasant surprise.
We have not experienced Venezuelan cuisine much yet as we have been using our camping
facilities. This 3 day trip should rectify that!