This gringo has decided to escape to the mountains- faced with at least a day of nothing but unforgiving autopista ahead, before descending yet further on the carretera .. I decided to get away from the smoke and grit a little, and get the overnight bus to Mérida. It’s cheating a little, but I think I’ve cycled enough of these roads to have some idea of what lies ahead- it seems there are places not best explored by velocipede.
That said, I’m very taken by the energy of this place. Amidst all the madness of it, people are very friendly – and tolerant of the gringo’s shaky spanish and eccentricity. (Actually, ‘gringo’ is a word I haven’t heard since Caracas).

This has been a holiday weekend in venezuela, which probably accounts for why none of the cashpoints have any money on them. Just use plastic, you’d think- they don’t take visa debit or mastercard in most places though.. so a good part of an afternoon was spent touring cashpoints. Eventually, some kind security guards let me in to a closed shopping centre which yielded one. An avoidable problem – I should have known better.
I also should have brought a huge horn for my bike- I have a whistle, but that just isn’t right. Exploring Valencia a little today was good fun- weaving in and out of the spaces. Everyone just goes where they’ll fit. Sometimes the buses misjudge this, though usually there is enough room for two wheels to fit through.

I often have conversations along the lines of where have I come from today/where am I going/on a bicycle! Someone even asked if everything had been stolen yet- how much stuff he must have thought I started with..
Earlier today (sunday) a guy expressed amazement to his wife that I had cycled from Caracas, and now I’m cycling to Mérida! ‘We are in the bus station..’ She points out – all eyes turn back to me.
Well, yes.
I will wait a little longer to earn my cycling-up-massive-mountain points.

I wasn’t overly impressed by the cold water pipe masquerading as a shower this morning, but it would be pretty inviting right about now. Also interesting is the volume of liquid I consume every day and how infrequently .. maybe that’s too much.
No tea yet either- I’m not sure when I’ll get to camp, but I’ll make some by the side of the road soon enough, either way.