Archive for the ‘Venezuela’ Category

The AmericasI have travelled the length and bredth of the Americas since I started this trip back in December, but the time has come for me to move on.

It also means that I will no longer need to keep butchering the Spanish language that I have learned to some degree as I have moved south from the USA.

There have certainly been plenty of highs as well as a few lows to keep me grounded on the road, but as ever it is time to move on because the planet has so many more waves on offer for me to enjoy along the rest of this trip.

Las OlasRather fittingly I saw this road sign next to the pizza place on my last night in Chile.

It translates to The Waves, which is an odd name for a road if you ask me, but the sign was pointing westward towards the east and that is exactly where I am going.

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the-andesFlying from Brazil to my next stop in Peru I have to cross the longest mountain range in the world, the Andes. 

They are over 4,000 miles long and extend through seven South American countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela.

The Andes range is the world’s highest mountain range outside of Asia and I have learnt that the peak of Chimborazo in the Ecuadorean Andes is actually farther from centre of the Earth than any other location on the planet’s surface, due to the equatorial bulge resulting from its rotation.

AliveIn October 1972 a plane carrying a rugby team from Uruguay to Chile crashed in the Andes. The survivors had to fend for themselves amidst the freezing weather at altitude with a very limited supply of food, after the search and rescue operation for them was called off. Only16 of the 45 on board actually survived, and they had to resort to eating the flesh of their team mates who had died to do so.

It is common knowledge that rugby clubs foreign tours can get a little out of hand, but this took things to a whole new level!

The movie Alive told the story of these events, but I am hoping not to have anything similar happen on my own flight. The plane seems to be full of Japanese tourists, most of whom are pensioners. I doubt they would feed a big lump like myself for long! 

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Corredor SurIt is great to be mobile again. Today I invited a Venezuelan biology teacher called Jenny to join me in the little green surf machine for the day. Jenny’s English is as good as my Spanish, but the two of us enjoyed a lovely day getting out of the city.

We took the Corredor Sur which is the road going across the sea that you can see here, built because they had run out of land in the city! However we stayed on it far too long and then had a bit of a shocker trying to get to our destination mostly because I had failed to notice the car was running on empty when we had started. Thankfully though my green friend did not let me down when I had company.

panama_la_viejaWe were trying to find the ruins of the original city called Panama Viejo (or Old Panama in English), at least what was left of them after Henry Morgan and his shipmates went on the rampage through here in 1670. The picture here is what is left today of the original cathedral, which was the first one to be built in the Americas in the early sixteenth century. Epic work by the man from South Wales. I may have to burn down the hostel in his honour later this evening!

It was all quite impressive but having grown up just down the road from Conwy’s castle and walled town, which dates back to the thirteenth century I can freely admit to being more interested in the waves on the horizon that were breaking underneath the Corredor Sur.

Corredor Sur Surf 2Even though the water quality is appalling here I almost needed holding back. The opportunity to be the first person ever to surf under a motorway was rather tempting, especially so because I have not had a wave in weeks! It does mean there is swell about though, so maybe tomorrow. 😀

Tour GuideWe strolled around for a bit and enjoyed all the remnants of Spanish architecture, including the convent you see in the background here. It wasn’t actually ruined by the Welsh pirate, it just was never finished after he had trashed the rest of the old town. After the attack it was decided to abandon this area and simply move the entire city westwards a few miles because it could be better defended there.

We also walked through a local artisans market, where every trader tried unsuccessfully to talk me into selling my soul for a brightly coloured beer can holder or equivalent. However after a few hours we had spent enough time in the area.

We weren’t rushing back to the hostel though and stopped for a drink or two on the way home. A top day.

NapoleonBy the way if like me you have ever wondered why Spanish influence in this region faded from near omnipotence across two continents to nothing bar the language being spoken, think Napoleon. I have been looking into it and as best as I can make out there had been revolutions and declarations of independence throughout the world in the late eighteenth century, and the feelings in Central and South America were no different at the time. The Spaniards kept a lid on it at first but when Napoleon invaded and conquered Spain a short while afterwards, also I believe putting his own family on the throne, it gave the locals the excuse they needed to throw off European shackles and stand on their own. I believe that to be true for all the Spanish speaking countries from Mexico to Chile, but please could anybody correct me if I am wrong?

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