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February 15th 2007
Published: February 16th 2007
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Tayrona, Columbia to Merida, Venzeuela

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National Flower
Hey Everyone,

We arrived in the town of Merida, Venezuela on Friday February 8th. During the previous 24 hrs of traveling we had: one bus breakdown, 8 military check stops and a scenic detour though the slums of Venezuela´s second largest city (still can´t figure out why). The check stops were surprisingly easy for us although one elderly lady on the bus was bribing every officer as she had no ID. One glance at the cover of our Canadain passport was all they needed for us!

A highlight was acending the Teleferico cable car in Merida. It is the worlds longest (7.76 miles) and highest (15,622 ft). We definetly felt the effects of high alitude. We staggered over to a statue of Simon Bolivar(the founder of independance for VZ) and found it weird to hike a couple of steps before being out of breath and dizzy... We then decended 3000´ and hiked over a mountain pass to a quaint little village called Los Nevados. It was a 7km hike that was 95% down hill (5000´+)... our legs were pretty tired after 4 hours. The scenery more than made up for it and was a great way to experience the
Lovin the Muscle CarsLovin the Muscle CarsLovin the Muscle Cars

When gas prices don´t matter, who doesn´t love these old beauties (they make sweet taxis)
Andes firsthand. Our trip out of Los Novados was an adventure too - on the sketchest road we have ever been on. It was a narrow track with no guard rail, with hundreds of switch backs and only enough room for one vehicle - thousands of feet straight down to the valley floor below...Ben´s comment about not bothering to wear seatbelts due to fact that if we lost it we were goners regardless, was very discerning, but HEY we´re still writing! Chalk it up to those good ´ol reliable 4X4 Toyota Landcrusiers (the EXCLUSIVE vehicle in the VZ mountains) and some extremely skilled operaters who make this their living.

We also went on a canyoning tour. This consisted of negotiating down a steep river canyon by any means possible - sliding down waterfalls, jumping into pools and repelling down large cliffs/waterfalls. The first repel was underneath a 12m waterfall. The second repel was actually IN the waterfall (25m) which turned out to be not too graceful for everyone including the guides, Nastassia lost her contacts in her eyes due to so much water crashing down on top of her... haha not really so much repelling as surviving the waterfall.
Cheaper than a coke!Cheaper than a coke!Cheaper than a coke!

3300 Pesos to a Dollar is the exchange rate... not even a dollar to fill up your tank!!!
The last repel was beside a 35m waterfall. An exciting, if different way to experience what the mountains have to offer.

So with just a week in VZ, we stayed pretty close to the City of Merida, I like to descibe it as a Whistler on steriods, minus the skiing. Some interesting things we noticed about VZ:
- Although you hear much about the anti-American sentiment of Venezuela as-told-by the North American media, in contrast Venezuelan people seem to have embraced the American dream, right down to fast food, muscle cars and superficial beauty.
-Gas is REALLY cheap (2 cents/L for diesel and 3 cents/L for Regular).
-Bring American $$$ as blackmarket exchange for cash dollars is almost 2X better than the official rate due to restrictions of locals obtaining bank accounts in foreign currencies.

So with our introduction into the Andes complete, we begin our long journey down this mountain range. Back to Colombia we go!

Bye for now, Ben y Nastassia

Additional photos below
Photos: 14, Displayed: 14


Ben testing his lungs at high altitude, 15,622ftBen testing his lungs at high altitude, 15,622ft
Ben testing his lungs at high altitude, 15,622ft

In the background you can see the Simon Bolivar statue that we hiked to.
Post card worthy picture.Post card worthy picture.
Post card worthy picture.

We actually found this as a post card later in our stay, but the street is now coble stone and the landcruser in the back ground is a truck not a jeep style!
Our road home.Our road home.
Our road home.

This road was mearly a ribbon on the side of a steep mountainous valley! Our big question was what do you do if someone is coming the other way, there is no room to pass... The answer: some one has to back up a couple km to a big enought space to pass. SKETCHY!!
Gas station on the BorderGas station on the Border
Gas station on the Border

Gas vendor, on the Colombian side of the boarder...

17th February 2007

from sand and surf
Those mountain roads looks sketch! Good to see you've made it through and are still trekkin. Rob and I are in Huacachina, Peru trying to convert our snowboarding skills to the mountainous sand dunes here. Don't miss it! Once you're in Ecuador, be sure to check out Baños. It's a great little spot. If you drop me an email ( I can give you more advice. Keep dreamin big!
19th February 2007

Take it easy on the Americanos
Ben and Nas, Were not all fake and i dont even eat fast food although i guess my cars are pretty superficial. Nice to see you guys doing well. I enjoy every week checking in on you guys and following your journey. Take care, Oh by the way what's the score of the South American crib. Championship? Later, Dave
22nd February 2007

Your a tough guy dave, you can handle it!
I am down by 3 games... sniff sniff, but i can feel a comeback!! -Nas PS good to hear you have something to read at work! Oh and ben is going a little crazy now that he can´t surf every day...
24th February 2007

Just a few lines
Wow, and I thought Gas was cheap over here in Malaysia at around 1.8 ringgit per litre (60 cents CAN). The view from 5000m plus must have been incredible. Jordan and I are missing the surf now as well. Nice pics also
1st March 2007

Jordan - Back at the Ocean
What up you two crazies! Things look pretty good for you two! The view looks amazing from your pics. Nice hiking pose Ben-jamin! Im back at the ocean but not surfing..not much surf here in Thailand. Thought Corey and I are kicking off Thailand with the Full Moon Party! Supposed to be 20,000ppl here! Looking forward to the next post! Your Guide Jordan

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