Six O´clock this morning found me in the back lot of my hotel helping a Venezuelean man push a large truck in an attempt to start it. Quickly realizing that I could not push it alone, I went out on the road stopping people on their way to...to seek help. I must have seemed strange to the folks in this lonely outpost on the edge of the Amazon. Eventually we got the truck started and I chalked that up to my exercise for the morning.
Santa Elena de Uairen, bounded on one side by the Amazon and on the other by the Gran Sabana. Ah the Gran Sabana, beautiful, stark, green at times and rocky at times. Immense with few people inhabiting this unique territory. Literally thousands of square miles of beautiful undulating grasslands, scores of unique flat topped mountains called tepuis and some 300 small thatched villages housing the 15,000 indengenous people who make their home here. And today, they allowed the Goose and me to join them for much of the day.
Five hours of riding rapidly through the Gran Sabana and I was finally in the low but challenging mountains that surround the Sabana. Curvy and fast roads, beautiful forests, water falls....remember this is the home of Angel Falls, the highest and steepest dropping water fall in the world.
And then out of this natural beauty and suddenly into small towns, throbbing with noise, smoke, grease on the streets and trucks and cars belching smoke and fumes. Military checkpoints were frequent today. I must have passed a dozen but was only actually stopped three times. And the young soldiers were entirely professional and friendly, quickly checking my documents, wishing me well and sending me on my way.
Venezuela is a major oil producer and the Venezuelean people have benefited from that. Gasoline is almost free. It cost me less than 50 cents to fill up my tank. In Brazil it had cost in the area of thirty dollars. However the filling stations are very basic, even crude and are far apart. I suspect it will be difficult to find gas for the next three days as the people celebrate Carnaval.
Riding 432 miles today, I have stopped for the evening. And with the night comes a need to make a decision. Do I proceed onward to Caracas where I am now led to believe shipping the motorcycle will be challenging and expensive or do I simply turn west and head for Bogota, Colombia, where they have much experience in shipping motorcycles both to Panama and to Miami. By morning, I have to decide.