Sunday, October 11, 2015

Back to Civilization

(That is if you call army guarded gas stations with 100+ cars and trucks lined up in front of it civilized...)
The problem with being in the far corner of a country is that you have to go all the way back over the same road. The same towns, the same checkpoints. But after all of yesterday's adventures it is nice to ride back through the "known".

[​IMG] Glad to be back on tarmac, cruising through the seemingly never ending Sabanas.
However, the known also means I have to find gas again in places where it was already hard to come by. Last time I bypassed "El Dorado". It's name seems to be a nice cover up for the mafia that run the place, according to the army check point. "If you don't need gas, don't go there". I do need gas so there I go. Motorcycle taxi's are everywhere. It's busy and filthy. Half way into town a long line of cars are almost blocking the road. As I ride by them and get closer to the only gas station in town I realize that they are lined up for gas. The army has locked off the station with chains and only a hand full of people are allowed in. Trucks with empty barrels are everywhere. This might become a problem... I am not allowed in. I ride to the other side and try to get a feel for the situation. I chat with a few guys and they signal an armed guard. The guy comes towards us. The way he carries his shotgun tells me he is not to be messed with. With a serious look on his face he asks how much gas I need and lifts the chain so I can ride under. I'm being taken to the front of the line and get a full tank. A payment is not accepted. This country just will not cease to surprise me. :gun1

A strange urge makes me ride through town a bit to get a better idea of what all the fuss is about. I end up on a dead end street and conclude that it was a stupid idea. Riding by once on a big packed up bike will only make people stop and stare but if you give a possibly bad guy a second chance... No bueno! :stupid I ride back a bit faster. A lady figures I am lost and offers help but I'm going too fast and do not intend to stop. FEAR??? Missed opportunity to get to know the real story? I think so. The army guys give me a thumbs up when I ride back through.

[​IMG] Callao, known for it's folklore festival... and easy, safe gas fill-ups :)
Another hour down the road there are two massive, colorful statues of two dancing native people. I get of the main road and ride through the town of Callao where a big folklore festival has just taken place. That would have been nice. The gas station here seems to have plenty of gas and I fill up again to avoid situations like the one I encountered earlier.

Ciudad Guayana is a big city on the Orinoco River. There are a lot of businesses but there is not much activity there. It is something that comes with Venezuela. It is so rich in natural resources and beautiful people but the government makes it impossible for people to make a living. Just to give an example: Every car dealer is completely empty. There is not one new car in the showrooms.

A new showroom but nothing to show. Every showroom in the country looks like this.
I'm on my way to the Northern coast to relax a bit and check out some dive sites. To get there I have to take another ferry. It is strange that there is no bridge connecting the biggest city in the area with the other side. Lots of small boat businesses are thriving because of it. The ferry does not make it all the way to the shore and lets off the vehicles and the people in the water. A young guy is a real gentleman and carries some women to the shore. Western world, come and learn!

[​IMG] An example to many. The young man, not the Ferry.
The land on the other side is as flat as The Netherlands and it's all agricultural land. I blast through it but I won't make it to my planned destination. In the city of Maturin I call it a day. Time to find some WIFI and hopefully another Love hotel. Maturin turns out to be a very modern and clean city. What a contrast with Guayana. How is it possible!?! A Papa Johns Pizza place catches my eye. I pull over at the fanciest "Papa" I have ever seen. The prices are American as well but I treat myself and after a couple of days it is time to send Azure a sign of life. I spend some time on the internet and in the meantime I try to get directions to a love hotel from the staff. It is like they don't understand what I am looking for. They keep recommending expensive hotels but I want my Love hotel room with my bike in the garage right next to me! After some attempts to explain I learn that it is not something that they openly talk about. One of the staff comes over and sits next to me ad explains where I can find one of these "No tell Motels" while the rest of them is just standing there looking at me and smiling. It makes me laugh. I had a good time there and a delicious pizza. They advise me to ride through town and check out the church. I am glad I did. It was a very nice town and it felt really safe to be there.

[​IMG] The beautifully lit church of Maturin, surrounded by parks and art gardens.
I found the Love hotel and rode into my garage. I closed the garage door and tried to get into my room. Locked. A few minutes later I hear a voice through a little slot in the wall. We talk about the price for the night. All is good but she needs something from me that I do not understand. She seems not to be able to let me in until she has what I don't know what it is. It gets annoying and I tell her I will find another hotel. She makes me wait for a minute and then lets me in. It seems the problem has evaporated. While I am unpacking the bike I see another slot in the wall at the level where one would normally see the license plate of the car. That must have been the problem! There is no plate on the front of the bike! Duhh! Note to self: Learn Spanish man!

[​IMG] A typical Love Hotel garage box. Not the cleanest but definitely safe to park the bike... and make a cup of tea. The slot on the bottom is how they would check your license number.
The room is something different. There is a nice round bed and a Jacuzzi (with cold water) and there is a piece of furniture of which I don't understand the purpose. A certain part of it I understand but I can not imagine it being comfortable. It won't let me go and I spend a bit trying to figure out how it should be used. I was excited to see the walls covered in a layer of cork so at least I was in for a quiet night!

[​IMG] A nice round bed, a cork wall, a jacuzzi in the background and a device to... air my KLiM Jacket.
[​IMG] Ergonomically this can't be right.
[​IMG] Well protected I go about trying different positions...
[​IMG] Definitely not comfortable!
Exhausted! How else to entertain yourself when you are alone in a Love Hotel! :)

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