June 18, 2003 GMT
Venezuela, Land of Milk, Honey and...

...Cheap Petrol.

Yes folks I have reached that oasis of good fuel that only costs 4 cents a litre, and once more Thelma is purring away - the fuel in Brazil was not good to her.

Caracas is like Dodge City without the Sheriff, I saw an argument taking place yesterday and after noticing one of the guys (who resembled the plump sergeant from the Zorro TV series) tuck a gun into his shorts I made a hasty exit - not sure if my medical insurance covers me for getting shot - even by a stray bullet.

Ray left his bike in the Harley workshop for the day and so was a pillion passenger for several hours -the Tiff & Thelma White Knuckle Ride as it is known in various corners of the world. It was quite a learning experience for him, he has never been a passenger on a woman's bike before and he also added to his knowledge of colloquial English as I "communicated" my displeasure with some of the cars around us that were not showing sufficient respect.
Much of the Caracas traffic is in a permanent gridlock - an enjoyable challenge for me to weave in and out between the various vehicles- with the metal pyramid-shaped man hole covers adding to the excitement.

Posted by tiffanycoates at 01:06 AM GMT
June 11, 2003 GMT
Leaving Brazil

I set off from Manaus, after five days on the boat, riding with Ray (from Mexico) on his Harley Davidson - yes, it did look an odd combination, a BMW and a Harley travelling on the road north through the jungle. We crossed the Equator (my fourth time by bike) and stopped for a photo session - I am now officially back in the northern hemisphere, though the humid jungle around me didn't feel much like the northern hemisphere that I know.
There was a lot of wildlfe to be seen - some of which I couldn't even begin to identify- I would pull up on Thelma and charge off into the undergrowth to get a closer look, but then Ray would turn up and I could see every creature within earshot looking round with a "What's that???" expession on their faces as the engine thundered loudly before they then disappeared as fast as they could - so, a tip for any of you budding naturalists out there - don't take a Harley Davidson on nature watching trips.
I was pleased to get close to a large hairy anteater - but then it looked round at me with a nasty expression and I turned and fled - I have to confess I am not one to take risks with unknown animals. Other animal subjects were some of the road-kills we saw- one of the plus points about biking in the Tropics is the range of exotic wildlife that is dead in the road - I think Ray was finding my interest in these dead animals a bit morbid as I stopped to take pictures of dead alligators and something that looked like it was off the Clangers (a British TV programme).

We reached Venezuela at last (I had been in Brazil for three months) and we suddenly found ourselves travelling at an altitude of 1000 metres and for the first time since February I was feeeling cold - very cold as the rain started.
We didn't hang around and headed down to the Orinocco River and then to Angel Falls - this involved leaving the bikes in Ciudad Bolivar and flying across the jungle in a light aircraft to a remote settlement then heading up-river, trekking and by boat, spending two night sleeping in the jungle in hammocks and listening to the noises around us while fending off an over curious monkey. It was definitely worth it to see this spectacular waterfall, the highest in the world - almost a kilometre-high sheer fall of water.

Posted by tiffanycoates at 10:47 PM GMT

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