Published: October 28th 2006October 21st 2006
From Caracas I took the over night bus (only 10 hours or so) down to Cuidad Bolivar. After almost no sleep I was supposed to go on the tour to Canaima. I was pretty tired, and asked the people who picked me up if I could go the next day instead. No no, don't worry, it won't be hard. Only resting today. Tomorrow hiking. I guess there was no way out and as I was just waking up (it was still like 6 am I think) I was not in an arguing mode. So I was taken straight to the aiport where the little Cessna would take me and a bunch of people out to Canaima national park. That was not a big plane. But awesome!!! After dozing off a few times, I defenitely woke up when the pilot asked if we wanted to see the falls closer by, and suddenly dived down 2000 m to have a closer look. My heart stopped up there and I could only take another breath after a few minutes.. It was the best part of the 3 day trip already...
Spent a few days with very nice people, a great mix of spanish,
swiss, venezuelan, french and israeli. Not bad at all!! Thanks guys for good times and great company!! And I can tell you I was confused with the languages, don't know how many I tried to speak those days!! We saw the stunning Angel Falls, and walked behind another fall, went swimming and slept in hammocks. Awesome times. There are a lot of natural wonders in this area..
After we got out from Canaima I continued by bus to the south of Venezuela, to Santa Elena de Uairen. Another 12 hours by bus but I think I got used to sleeping on buses already, this time was not as bad. Very funny when the military ask all passengers to open up the bags in the road check. That was at about 5 am and I basicly did it in my sleep. I've learnt the best way is by embarrasing the guards (who are always men, of course) by showing them the bag with underwear first, then you usually don't have to empty your whole bag. If they still want you to dig deeper, then you show the condoms too, they get chocked and don't know what to say. Ok, enough..
Maybe they just don't want to see more and you get away. Ah, so good being liberated european.
I thought I would continue straight from Santa Elena but found there was so much to see in this part. The Gran Savana is just there, and it's a tiny, chilled out town. From there you can do day tours and it doesn't have to get that expensive. As I was stressing out to get to Brazil and I didn't have much time left to travel, I jumped on a tour the same day and saw lots of beautiful places. It was me and a Finnish couple! We went around the area by jeep, and hiked and visited waterfalls and more. One cool place we went to was Quebrada de Jaspe, awesome stone colors, made me think of the moon!!
What I really wanted to do was a hike through a part of the savana, visiting an indian woman on the way. The guide didn't want to do that trip the day I came, only with one person, but the next day he would leave with one person only anyway.. I don't know what, but I really wanted to go,
so the next day I went with them on a hike.. Came to Balbinas place, so wonerful to see.. The first thing me and the other girl did was to go for a bath in the natural pool. I have been to many amazing places and seen many beautiful things, but this was just incredible. It's like a pool in the river, in between the rocks. Natural aloe vera shampoo was prepared for us, and the little fall was the shower. Just amazing. None of us had words, we just shook our heads, and enjoyed every moment of this natural wonder. What a spot. For lunch we had the typical food that Balbina had prepared for us. Fish from the river, roots and leafs like spinach from the plants outside. With that the typical cassava bread. The soup is pretty spicy (made spicier with a termite sauce...), so after you eat grilled plantain (like banana) to even out the flavours. Yummy.. Oh, not to forget - the juices.. Mmmmm.... One like passion fruit. Another one of guyava. Wow...
The others went on and I stayed with Balbina. She told me to have a rest in the hammock. Si senora!!
I wasn't tired but somehow I slept for some hours anyway.. How did she know? Later on we went for a little walk, she showed me plants, fruits, some medicinal plants and I found lots of orchids! Everywhere we went her 24 dogs (no, only like 5 or so) came with us. When we were back at the camp we had dinner and continued talking a lot. I had so many questions and she has such an interesting life. Later on she brought out her instruments and we sang (mostly her of course, better). The songs were about the butterfly, the tapir (inviting it to come and dance with us), about the romantic parrots and asking the spritis of the tepuis (table mountains) to take care of the poeple. Before going to sleep the dogs didn't stop barking, and we figured there was something nearby bothering them. Finally Balbina saw a snake very close to the camp. It was dark and she couldn't see if it was poisonous or not, and decided to kill it to be on the safe saide. Good desicion, I thought. So she killed it with a long stick, while I was just watching with my
mouth wide open... After that everything was very calm, and I had such a good nights sleep, like a baby. Basicly sleeping outdoors in a hammock.. Can't be better. Early in the morning we went for a long hike and saw more interesting plants and I heard more about pamon indians and Balbinas life. We got to a spot where you could see the tepuis, for example Roraima which is the famous one that all tourists want to climb. Looks crazy to me.. Apparently there are many untouched tepuis that you can climb, and they are just as nice. Well, not for me, anyway. Hiking straight up for three days and then straight down.. I'm not that crazy.. ; )
I left Balbina and the Gran Savana but I felt I could have stayed on for at least a few more days. I would have loved to learn more about the way of living, the idea of living with the nature. My feeling is the indians have a very healthy way of life and way of looking at nature and I am overwhelmed.
I had to get back to town to continue down to Brazil. Santa Elena is
just on the border and I wanted to cross that same day. Me and Balbina walked back out to the road and got a ride back to town. Once I got back I rushed to the border to make it in time. I crossed the border and from now on I wouldn't understand a word people were saying.. Who said portugese was similar to spanish??? It's like thinking a foreigner who knows a bit of swedish will understand danish.. Not that it sounds like portugese speak with a potato in their mouth, but to me it sounds like it has something from russian, japanese and finnish.. Not a good combo, really... Well well, they seem to understand my spanish a little bit at least..
From the border I shared a taxi with some other people and went down to Boa Vista. The bus takes 3 hours, this guy, driving in average in 160 km/h made it in less than 2 hours. I was happy we made it at all. They are good drivers though, you think you will die but they drive like that's all they've done since they were born. So shouldn't worry really...
In Boa Vista
I had just enough time to get a bus ticket for another lovely night on the bus.. Got the cheaper one, whatever, a yuky sandwich for dinner.. Have a feeling it will be hard to be vegetarian here, hasn't been a problem so far. We'll see, maybe it's just the language, all I know in portugese that's vegge so far is cheese and vegetables, so that's what I eat..
Man, this blog is getting far too long.. Will never fit in all the pics!! Will continue in a new blog insted! Hold on!
There are more photos below