Today we need to go to the consulate.
As we arrive at the embassy all the doors are closed and nobody seems to be there. Suddenly a little boy appears in the garden and obviously takes over the diplomatic affairs. So I find myself standing in front of a closed gate negotiating my Venezuelan visa with a little boy. These things make travelling the adventure it is!
In the end we get our visa and are free to drive to the border.
As we arrive there in the late afternoon
the formalties are straight forward. Minutes later we
find ourselves in
After having done nearly 6000 kilometers in
As we then drive to the petrol sation to fill up, we donít trust our eyes! For 70 litres of premium fuel the bill says 4000 Bolivares!! At an exchange rate of 3600 Bolivares for one Dollar the fuel price is down at an unbelievable 0,016 US Dollars per litre!
As an oil producing country,
At the moment I carry over a million Bolivares in my pocket which is worth about 200 Euros.
Chris and Lori are staying in Santa Elena a little longer while Iíll continue my journey up north. The landscape is absolutely breathtaking and the road leads over an altiplano sprinkled with green hills.
Beside its biker friendly fuel prices,
Taking a picture is always worth to remember. When ever I stop friendly locals surround me and want to be on the picture as well!
Today I arrive at the city of
The passage takes about half an hour. Naturally, my bike is the main attraction on board and people surround me with interest.
Today, Iím heading towards Guiria. The small
The mountain range in the background is constantly hidden in fog and its vegetation is also called Cloud Forest. Due to its constant humidity the Ącloud forest ď represents a unique ecological system.
In Guiria I find a nice camp site where I place my tent under a solid roof. The rainfalls† can be so violent that they would easily wash me away.
In the morning Iím heading downtown to
buy a ticket to
Iím told that Windward Lines are no longer operating their car ferry and that there is only a passenger boat now.
This ferry doesnít transport any vehicles and for my motorcycle I would have to find a cargo ship with a captain prepared to take the bike.
As another inconvenience,
Altough the state did sign the international treaty regulating temporary imports of vehicles in 1954, they do insists on a cash deposit of the vehicleís value and besides that, the motorbike must get registered in Trinidad and fitted with a national numberplate.
For one week of stay in
I will go to
Which of course is going to be anything else than simple.
The Venezuelan customs stamped the details of the motorbike into my passport and† Iím not allowed to leave the country without it. Neither by land nor by sea.
The only chance I see is to contact the
Venezuelan AA, the TACV (Venezuelani automobile club)
Usually the permission should be granted, considering my case.
At the customs office Iím told, that I must officially park the motorbike in Guiria and produce a confimation that says so.
However, finding someone in
Especially when I come around with a letter showing the seal of the customs and tax office.
At first Iím welcomed with Hola Amigo but as soon as they see the threatening stamp, it is over with friendship and nice words. Nobody wants to have anything to do with it.
It feels like Iím out to do shopping at the blackmarket and asking for a receit showing the VAT.
After a while I find a hotel with an
owner ready to write me the desired paper and confirm that I park the bike
within his premisis. With that confirmation I get my
permit from the customs and am allowed to leave
If I decided not to come back, the motorbike would belong to the customs Iím told.
After having travelled through the
I am only happy that I can help myself with the language. Without Spanish one would be completely lost.
Today I spend making last preparations
for my motorcycle-free stay in
Today I take the ferry to
According to the legend, it was here
The threatening clouds in the background
represent the predecessors of hurricane Dean. The storm is still moving with
approximately 160 km/h over the cold
During the rainy season the coasts and
islands of the
Fortunately the sunshine comes back in the afternoon and the planned HIV Awareness walk can be done as expected.
The national Kricket and Soccer teams come together with hundreds of children and we all walk around the around the city park to point out the dangers of HIV and AIDS.
The event is brodcasted by the media and in an interview I speak about my journey around the world and the importance of the work of UNICEF world wide.
The atmosphere is great and the sportsmen untiringly write autographs on the childrenís T-shirts.
Particularly in the english
Next to where the participants walk, a
truck carries some of the best known Djs from the
One doesnít have to obsere the children and young people for long to realize that they find the serious messages absolutely cool, as they enthusiastically sing along and repeat the lines.
Events like this are the best way to
deliver messages and reach young people in such an extroverted and
party-oriented culture as in
UNICEF constantly strives to organize similar events with local partner organizations involving as many youths as possible.
Today I will participate in a training for information and prevention of HIV.
One of the topics shows the proper use of a condom and I have the pleasure to demonstrate the application procedure myself.
Of course, not without causing a certain amusement within the audience, but therein does exactly lie the point!
By removing the taboo off the topic, talking about sexuality will become more accepted within society and dangerous practices can effectively be avoided
In the afternoon I visit Childline. Childline is a telefonhotline for children that† can be† reached in any kind of emergencies.
When talking to the operators, Iím told about a shocking and current case. A 17 year old girl has been abused by her father and the new boyfriend of her mother since her 12th birthday and doesnít want to talk to the police.††
Which is a big problem, because without her pointing out the rapists, the police canít arrest the criminals. Now psychological advisors from Childline are bussy to convince her about the importance of such a step.
Like many other victims of domestic violence, she believes it has all been her fault and as a matter of fact, she feels ashamed and remains quiet.
Childline represents an inestimably important mechanism providing free psychological consultation and the guaranty of absolute anonymity. For many children, Childline is often the only possible way to find councelling and assistance.
Today I have a look around beautiful
In the center
Tonight a loud bang wakes me up. It must have been around and as I get up to see what is going on, I see that a car has just crashed into the neighbours wall. Obviously the driver went to fast and came off the road!†
In the next morning, when the car is getting towed, the unfortunate driver shows up again. Slightly sobered up by now, he is heavily complaining that some gangsters stole his car radio. Yep, thatís what counts. The car is totally messed up, he is alive but the radio is the thing.
Today a Duathlon
is held in
The ambitious athletes are using top material and I admire their heat resistance. The course leads through the superhot downtown streets, there is hardly any wind and the race is started at !
In the cooler evening I go running as well and enjoy the fresh air in the city park.
Today I fly to
Compared to modern and buzzing
A small mountain road leads around the island and winds over green hills past narrow bays and fantastic beaches.
After only 20 minutes of flying time the
plane lands in
In former times Speyside was a fishing village that today naturally lives from tourism.
Here I meet a man called Cesar Vilar.
Cesar is a charismatic man and inspires the young people. The spanish lawyer with the special field of childrenís rights has already been working for UNICEF for 9 years and is now setting up a pilot project for children and young people in small municipalities.
By organising sport and culture events as well as implementing educational programs he is creating new possibilites for young people so they can see themselves as an important part of their community.
As Cesar introduces me to the youths, they are sceptical at first and donít know what the strange white man is doing in their village.†
I must earn my respect first and participate in a shoot out with the sling shot.
Due to the fact that I spent half of my childhood with such a thing in my pocket I still can do it and hit the small bottle at the 3rd† attempt. All congratulate me and Iím† accepted into their community.
The children take me to their favourite hill and show me the beautiful view over the island and the sea.
Afterwards we all sit together and I show them pictures of my journey.
In the evening I watch a Capoeira demonstration. This martial arts style incorporates
strong elements of dance and was originally created by the african
The young people enthusiastically join the classes and the show is most impressive.
Today, I will participate in a joint trainingexercise of the Red Cross of Trinidad and
To be able to organize help and emergency
assistance in a case of desaster, the participants
are instructed in the correct use of handheld radios. In the remote villages of
Together with the children, we form small groups and learn how to operate the radio. Soon everyone can do it.
Later the learned skills are tested in the field. We split up into small groups and walk over the entire village going from house to house.
Naturally, instead of having to judge the extent of a natural catastrophe we ask the people where in their opinion improvements in the village community seem to be necessary and where in particular they would like to help.†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† This great combination of a disaster relief exercise and a need analysis succeeds to† involve the entire village community and everyone takes over an important task!
In the evening I have to leave my new friends again and drive back to the airport.
Unfortunately, tomorrow I must take the
ferry back to
The ferry to
As we go past a small island, we even happen to see a genuine smuggler boat. The vessel is overloaded hopelessly and the crew, consisting of Chinese sailors, swims around the boat hastily scraping off the shipís name replacing it by a new one.
Apparently they did not expect the weekly ferry. In any case, our captain radios the coast guard to take care of them.
As we reach Guiria, my friends from the Venezuelan customs already welcome me. As they inquire whether I plan to continue my journey on the motorbike, I jokefully answer that I will sell it illegaly. Whereupon we all laugh together.
I leave the
The coastal road leads past fantastic bays and strongly reminds me of my childhood.
As a small boy, I was intrigued by the
legends of pirates and hidden treasures of the
Well, today I am here on the motorcycle.
Instead of a sextant I have a GPS unit and instead of canon rounds viciously
fired from pirates sloops, the only thing I have to
dodge is the overland bus to
Today I leave the coastal road and cross the Guatopo national park.
The road over the mountains is very
interesting and less strongly travelled than the main highway to
The daily rainfalls are strong and
automatically bring up the fog. Within the remote mountain ranges of
Today, I will ride one of the most
spectacular roads of the country. From the small city of
The road starts nice and as it leads through the Henry Pitter national park, it deteriorates into a slippery single-lane concrete path, leading into the Cordillera.
When it rains, extreme caution is
required on the roads of
As fuel and engine oil are cheap and most people drive old cars with broken seals, the roads are covered with a thin layer of oil and grease.
Several times I just manage to prevent the bike from slipping away in the corners.
Down by the coast I reach the small town
As I ride along the coastal road, I discover some beautiful beaches and stop for a short break.
It is just terrible to see that people
chuck their waste everywhere. The beaches of
Today I visit
I find a pleasant lodge and decide to stay for a couple of days.
Today I visit the sand dunes of
Today I do some regular maintenance at the bike. In the evening I go for a run in the dunes, enjoying a spectacular sunset.
The vegetation of the
Fiday, 31. August 2007
Today we will hike across the Sierra San Luis via the "Camino de los Espanoles", an old colonial trail. The path leads through dense jungle and past some long caves.
Compared to the tropical heat of the rainforest, they are a welcome place to rest.
Saturday, 1. September und Sunday, 2. September 2007
The following two days I spend in the lodge resting and getting ready to continue my trip.
Monday, 3. September 2007
Today I leave the tropical coastal areas and ride along Lago Maracaibo. In the afternoon I approach the mountains and the heat becomes bearable.
Tuesday, 4. September 2007
Today I will drive over the Pico de Aquila. This mountain pass is at 4000 meters of elevation
and represents the highest roadpass in
The road is excellent and the bike works well, even above 3500 meters!
At 4021m the temperature is down at 7
degrees. I take out my winter stuff and enjoy the quality of decent clothes.
Unfortunately the view is obscured by a lot of fog, and
In the afternoon I reach
Thursday, 6. September 2007
Today is my 30th birthday and we celebrate that day on the bike. The weather is great and the temperatures above 3000 meters are nice and cool.
As we make good progress, we reach the Colombian border and will cross it tomorrow.
Friday, 7 September 2007
Today we will cross the border to
Those occupations are certainly most lucrative. As the production of Colombian cocaine solely provides approximately 80% of the world market the annual incomes of this illegal business are etimated to be around 4 billion Euros!
The people of
Crossing the border runs fast and smoothly.† The soldiers are so amazed by us and our motorbikes that they donít let us pass without a picture of all being taken.