September 13, 2006 GMT
(3) Venezuela: Moving West with Black Ice

In Barcelona 5 roads merged into 1...10 lanes into 2. The traffic snarled. The temperature rose to 40C and with it the tempers. The bike baked and so did I.

I split laned my way through the maze to keep from melting. Then I saw the problem. The problem wasn´t only the merging of the roads. That happened with reasonable Latin efficiency. The problem was there was a Police Check-Point just downstream. Those STUPID F**king Bastards! They created the traffic jam. They created the mayhem. What ignorance. What stupidity. I should have brought my gun...but NO! On second thought what good would it do? There weren´t enough bullets. I would need several million to solve the problem.

With that stupidity behind me I moved northwest towards the coast. I stopped to wash the bike. It looked good...for exactly 2 minutes. A passing shower made short work of the shiny job.

One of several shallow passes separated me from my destination. I moved on enjoying the road and the scenery. Another shower passed before me as I climbed. The road arced to the right and the surface tilted to the center of the curve. The bike broke loose and slipped sideways. I kicked it back into line. It slipped again. I pulled it back. Again it slipped and squirmed. What was wrong? Did I have a flat? It felt like it.

The slope of the road pulled me towards the edge. I tried to move out towards the center but I slipped again. A pullout appeared just ahead and I eased the bike towards the road and onto the dirt. I looked down to check the tires. They were fine! I walked out onto the road. I could barely stand it was so slippery. BLACK ICE at 33C.

A semi-trailer truck pulled up the hill. The slope of the road pulled him to the edge. He stopped next to me, out of road. The semi behind him jack-knifed and then straightened before coming to rest on the edge of the road.

We three held a conference in the middle of the road, pressing on its slick surface with our boots. A light drizzle prevailed. The road texture, the rain, the rubber on the surface, the all contributed to the extremely slick surface. An hour passed. Just when the road surface looked like it might dry another shower returned. The road steamed in protest. In my waterproof jacket I was as wet inside from perspiration as outside from the rain.

We continued to pace the road. A Honda 90 riding double came down the hill at 5 mph. They skidded sideways in front of us but did not fall. It was worse up the hill they said, where the higher elevation produced more rain. It would be 7-10 kms to cross the pass. It was 3:30 PM now and two hours more to the nearest town with possible accomodation. I had spotted a $100 hotel as I exited Barcelona early in the afternoon. It was looking pretty nice about now.

Barcelona was an hour away at least. Yesterday I had come into town after dark because the ferry was an hour late. I was hoping to NOT repeat that experience again today. The truckers held a conference. They would turn around. I did the same.

The one foot apron of the road had more grip. It was not polished was not provided a margin of safety for me. Down the hill the surface became dry. I moved off of the edge and geared up. Ten minutes later, the rain started again. I thought originally that just the hill was slippery, but NO. This lower, level section was too. I could feel the bike slip.

We moved along at 60 kmph. A long line formed with me somewhere in the middle. Ahead the traffic snarled. A truck had spun out on a curve and was upside down in the ditch. An ambulance fought its way through the Ignorant Traffic. What people are these that will not even give-way to an Ambulance? They have no respect for anything...the living...the dead...the injured...What an ignorant f---ing society.

A mile further down another truck was in the ditch...wheels down this time. The driver was circling his precarious vehicle, canted at 40 degrees in the sharp ditch. Further on the road dried and the pace picked up. It had been 2 hours to Barcelona not 1.

The Hotel was like a mirage in the desert. With a swimming pool as big as a football field, shaped like a big 'S', a fine dining area, internet, cable TV...the works. Home never looked so good.

Posted by Robert Bielesch at September 13, 2006 02:18 AM GMT

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