Live the adventures of Dan Walker's travels through reading his travel journal. The travel journals are listed below in descending order of date. To search the travel journals, use the keyword search at the bottom of the page.
|Sunday, May 15, 2011 05:48:02|
Rolls Alaska to Argentina & back: 31 Valle de Pascua to San Cristobal, Venezuela
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Miles for the day: 252 (406 km) Miles to date: 17,106 (27,529 km)
When we went to leave town in the morning there was a lineup of stopped traffic over two blocks long on the main highway. I noticed a rough dirt area to the left of the road with haphazardly parked vehicles, so slowly snaked my way through them until I arrived at the intersection where the accident took place. Old cars has been pushed end to end to close both sides of the cross street and on the highway/on both sides of the accident. A traffic accident is a very big deal, and this wasn't even that serious of an accident! I stopped the Rolls in front of the accident beside a police car - my route had us inside the barricades..
A lot of people looking at the accident came over to see the car, so we enquired as to other possible routes, and were told there were none that were feasible. After we had talked to a number of people including a plain cloths policeman he motioned us to get into the car. He had people push one of the cars out of the way and motioned us through onto the hightway out of town, closing the gap again behind us. Once again the Rolls worked her magic and got us through where no one else could! The line of traffic trying to come into town went for blocks.
The roads were a little better today, but still well laced with potholes. Part of the trip was on four lane divided highway, but even this had pot holes.
If you every wonder where the huge old gas guzzling cars from the 1960s, 70s & 80s went, they are in Venezuela. The roads are full of them, mostly in horrible condition, but in use as taxis and for general transport. As gas is next to free, no one cares about consumption.
Two lane roads have no shoulder, and visibility is resricted by bushes growing out into each lane. On one long stretch of bad road there were a tremendous number of dump trucks and construction camps. The Chinese are building two huge projects within a few miles of each other, one a railway and we are not sure what the other was. There is also a major canal being built by the Venezuelan government. Mega projects abound, but no one fixes the roads!
We arrived in the city San Carlos, but couldn't find a decent hotel. Marilynn took a look at what people agreed was the best in town and stated categorically, "I'm not staying there!". I was tired and would have stayed anywhere, but fortunately it was 4 lane highway for the 96 km (60 mile) run to the next major city, Acarigua. Right off the highway we saw a delux resort, so went in to find the price was double anything we had paid to date in Venezuela. We asked if they knew a money changer, and were told someone would come in half an hour so had a couple of drinks while waiting. We had decided we didn't want to stay there - all indoor areas were freezing cold. When the money man came he thought we wanted to buy dollars, so couldn't help us.
Marilynn took a look at another hotel in a shopping mall, but rejected it. We finally settled for Hotel la Colina, which was the one I noted on the map before leaving! It was good so we decided to spend two nights and get caught up.
There was supposed to be a money changer available in the morning, but he didn't show. Then a not bright reception employee said we couldn't get laundry done in a day so we gave notice that we would be moving on. I was able to use Skype in the lobby to get a start on shipping arrangements from Cartagena to Panama, and to order some car parts to be sent to Costa Rica.
After breakfast some intelligent employees showed up who quickly arranged for laundry to be done and money to be exchanged, so we stayed after all. We mostly caught up on computers and had a lunch visit to a large upscale shoppping mall - a quiet day for which I was more than ready. Everyone in Venezuela seems to be tracked. It is necessary to present passports for hotel registration, and even to purchase items at the supermarket for cash. At supermarkets everything in the basket is checked against a paid invoice when leaving.
Thursday, May 12, 2011
Miles for the day: 279 (449 km) Miles to date: 17,385 (27,979 km)
Today we had freeway with less potholes than normal for the first couple of hours, then two lane road through town after town, each with half a dozen to a dozen speed bumps. Very slow going.
We eventually arrived at the City of San Cristobal in not a great frame of mind. Marilynn looked at a hotel that was recommended to us, but rejected it so we hired a taxi to take us to the Lidotel. It was an expensive five star place but many things did not work - it really was not good value. Tomorrow we leave for Columbia.