It was 36C. The humidity was 3 times that but it didn't rain. How could that be? I don't know...maybe my calculation was wrong. I felt like I was standing in a rainstorm. I looked like I was standing in a rainstorm, but the sky was blue...cloudless...full sun.
Trinidad was only 7 hours away. I was in Guiri, Venezuela, the furthest east you could go by road. From here I would have to take the boat, if I went further east.
What a beautiful ride from Caripe to Guiri. There was hardly a straight section of road. Perhaps that explains why it took more than 6 hours to go less than 300 km. The road spiraled up and down, folded back on itself, and then in a reverse Archimede's spiral wound itself back down to sea level. That was where the heat built up...became intense...drove me to exhaustion.
By early afternoon I had found the perfect place to stay. As part of a government funded project it provided accomodation, sightseeing, a water buffalo preserve and much more.
But government means rules...too many rules. You could only stay if you had an advance reservation. I didnīt have a reservation but I was physically present. I was also their only guest. I didnīt care about the tour or anything else...just the room, the location and the water buffalo stew that was cooking. It was not to be. They did not have a phone and I would have to drive to the nearest town to make the reservation. One hour there and one hour back just did not make sense. That was when I decided to go to Guiri.
By the time I got to Guiri I was demoralized, tired, hungry, thirsty and heat exhausted. I walked across the street to the Hotel Vista Mar. I walked into the restaurant. An Arctic blast hit me squarely. I moved deeper into the refrigerated environ. Hotel California by the Eagles pounded through the speakers. An easy relaxed feeling replaced the tiredness I had carried with me. Suddenly everything looked just fine.
I settled into a "boy" sized cerveza. They served these little 222 ml beers here for 75 cents...two swallows and you were looking for another. One guy like me can keep a waitress occupied full time.
As the Eagles faded into the background Simon and Garfunkel with Sounds of Silence moved to the fore. Hit after hit pounded through the speakers as I time travelled to another place and another time.
With sustenance and nourishment behind me I moved out onto he street to look around. Guiri didn't look like much but 25,000 people and one white guy called it home.
Later that evening I met Jimmy. He was from Guyana. He was manning an elaborate stainless steel barbeque setup. He was cooking up some Franks and I fancied one. His perfect English startled me in this far eastern reach of Venezuela. "We speak English in Guyana", he said "and one of our special characteristics is that we can mimmick any accent readily." "Guyanese English is a broken English where words are chopped into a sing songy rythm", he carried on. He spun a line for me. I could grasp it but I had to listen carefully, almost like some of the jargon blacks from the deep south US speak.
He kept busy cooking franks and we talked. Two hours went by in an instant. He had moved to Guiri, with his family, five years ago to make a better life and it was working. He liked the town and business was good. He had carved out a little niche for himself. "Will he go back?" "Only if the politics in Guyana improved so that he would be allowed to make a good living." We parted company. It was getting late. He had work to do and so did I.
These Venezuelan drivers are just plain STUPID. They make the Brasilians look normal and that's going some. They pass right into you like you weren't even there. See a pothole in your lane...don't worry the other lane is OK. Don't slow down. Swerve out to go around it. Who cares if someone else is there in the other lane. Perhaps he will get out of the way...perhaps he won't....
See your friend while driving downtown. STOP!!! Beckon to him to come over and say hello. Shake his hand. Never mind the 2 miles of traffic stacked up behind you.
Spot something you want at the corner Kiosk. STOP...call the lady over. Tell her what you want. Send her back. When she returns tell her you want the other one, not the one she brought. AARGH!!!
RED LIGHTS. What are they? Not for them. Slow down maybe, but mostly keep going. If there is a lot of cross traffic passing on their green light, simply nudge your way into it until it finally stops so you can proceed. If you stop for a red light you run the risk of being rear ended. If you proceed through the red light you run the risk of being broad sided. Both times you loose.
Gas is so cheap they just drive around to go nowhere....round and round to see how many people they know that they can stop and talk to. Mostly they just drive old beaters...Indian Cars...from the 70's and 80's. There isn't a straight piece of sheet metal between the roof and the wheels. Alot of them burn more oil than gas. I have seen a car stop and leak a quart of oil in the time it took to complete a transaction.
And then out of the blue haze drives a 1982 Mercury Grand Marquis, simply shimmering in its sandy bronze color with contrasting dark chocolate vinyl roof. It looks like it was built yesterday but it wasnīt. It was built 24 years ago. It wasnīt restored. It is an original!
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