Lodzi - the great explorer
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Venezuela Trip Log
Arrival to 26/01

    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 many 'manana's.

    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 the office. 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!

Check out the Photo Album for this section of the trip.


~ Cockburn Copyright 2006 ~