Sunday, May 30, 2010

Dance with Dengue

So Dengue Fever is what I self diagnosed myself with after matching my symptoms to a list of possible diseases or ailments. I had text book Dengue Fever signature, Headache, muscle stiffness, pain behind the eyes, extreme fatigue, a bright red rash that initially develops on the abdomen and lower back and on the lower extremities. Some people call the disease "bonecrusher disease"...but I didn't feel that bad. Besides I've broken my leg, arm, foot, dislocated my shoulder and bodyslammed myself multiple times snowboarding that I'm sure the muscular pain was no comparison. Dengue Fever is a virus that is spread by mosquito's. As the mosquito is an organism that carries the virus but is not affected by the virus it is referred to as a vector for the disease. The WHO estimates that 2.5 billion people are at risk of becoming infected ever year and annually 50 million cases are reported.

The classic dengue fever lasts for 2- 7 days with a small fever peak at the end of the disease known as a "bi-phasic pattern" Typically the patients platelet count will continue dropping until the fever/ temperature returns to normal. I guess this is why some people die from this.

In the end the patient is left with little red dots under the skin where the old blood is pooled. In some cases the disease progresses to Dengue Shock Syndrome (DSS) where the risk of mortality is significantly higher. Thankfully I was healthy enough avoid this stage of the disease.

Cartegena, Turbo, Colombia.

How convienient it is, not only can you nip out and get your fresh fish from the street and select your cuts, but also, you can choose which new shoes you'll be wearing out to the next Cartegena Ball.
Old town Cartegena, a sold door leading into a grand old church.

Manicured tourist area of Cartegena

A Patrol tower on a corner of the wall around Cartegena which was originally built in the 17th century funded by the Spanish Crown to ward off invasion from pirating ships that several times invaded the city and stole spains gold and silver reserves. The wall was constructed using European Military Engineers over the course of 208 years. In 1756 defenses were compled and considered impregnable with more than 11km of wall surrounding the city.

Over looking the city from atop the wall.

The slopeing wall was an effective deterrant to the would be theifs.

A Large bore cannon answered the call of any midnight knockers.

Some how on my way to Cartegena I managed to follow a few signs and ask a couple of the right people for directions and I ended up near enough to the Centro Nautico that I spotted the masts of several large yachts. I pulled a U-turn after riding across a small bridge that dropped me into old Cartegena and proceeded back across the same bridge and toward the port side where the sailboats were berthed. I was specifically looking for a 45 foot Catamaran with a blue and green boom bag. Somehow in the mirad of boats I saw a Catamaran, and then another, and then this was going to be easy. I continued motorcycling slowly along the street that paralled the port dock. Loathe and behold, I see this guy waiving to me from a Catamaran, I thought "cool", and immediately afterward I saw another Canadian motorcyclist Grant Else walking along the dock. Apparently we both had just arrived at the same time and the captain would be arriving any minute.
I chatted to Grant and moments later after a phone call the Captain "JP" showed up, explained a few things, accepted our deposit and stated our departure date for thursday morning. It was all so fluid that it just could not have been arranged. As this was tuesday night Grant and I had a few days to kill.
I was suprized to find several of the backpacker/traveller folks that I met in Taganga wandering the streets of Cartegena. It was kind of fun to run into a few people that I met in a completely different city. I must mention that it was odd that a simple change in my surroundings made it difficult to place some of the people immediately.
Wednesday night rolls around and Grant and I phone "JP" to verify loading of the bikes in the morning. I was trying to understand "JP" with his strong accent and could not quite make out what he was saying other than, he was going to give us a refund, he was arrested, problem with immigrations, must leave the country ASAP. Grant and I immediately went back to the dock and there he was. "JP" was a very honest man and despite being ordered to leave the country that morning he waited all day until 8pm for us to call so that he could give us back our 400 USD.
Together the 3 of us looked at the map and devised a plan that we'd meet the captain near the Darrien gap, he'd cross the border into Panama and we'd hop into a "launcher" (a 20 foot long and 6-8 feet wide boat) and zoom out to his anchor'd yacht. At this point the plan was to use the boom and its series of pullies to hoist the bikes into the deck and thus get to Panama with no lost time. Grant and I agreed with the Captain that this was the plan and the next morning we headed toward the town of Turbo some 300km southwest of Cartegena as the crow flies. The ride there took 7 hours and involved cruising through heavey traffic and some of the bumpiest dirt road sections that I've ridden for a while.
Alas, we arrived in Turbo. It became immediately apparent that Turbo was the true definition of a back water town (apparently a great town to get robbed, kidnapped by the FARC, shot, killed, Die from Dengue, Etc.) . Grant decided that he'd go for a scouting walk to look for accomidation rather than ride around in the chaotic moras and I'd keep an eye on the bikes. Three young fellows befriended me immediately and I was happy to talk to them. This conversation was different and it wasn't the usual questions about the bike and where I was from. Unfortunately these little boys were soliciting themselves as child prostitutes. It was terrible and I repeately told them to go away which made no difference. It was a really sad thing to see and experience and to know that someone out there is taking advantage of this.
Grant and I checked into the "Hotel Caribe" and planned to look for launchers in the morning. That evening we walked through the slummy neighborhoods along a river that was so heavily polluted with human waste that it was cholking to breathe. Everyone in their homes greeted us with "buenas" or "hola" as we walked through and not once did we feel threatened. This was where families lived and everyone looked after everyones kids. Infact there were kids running around everywhere in the dark and life seemed more safe and normal in this part in comparison to the central part of the town of Turbo.
I did not sleep well the night before because I was freezing and had nightmares all night. When I woke up at 6 am for the ride and felt groggy and hungover, I blamed it on the heat and insomnia. The problem reared it head that night in Turbo when I pulled off my t-shirt and revealed a spotty puffy rash that covered my abdomen and back which was not present that morning. I thought "damn, I'm not getting on any boat until I see where this goes".
All night I froze and tossed and turned. Once morning rolled around I drug myself out of bed and saw that Grant had already went out to check internet regarding the captains plans. I inspected the rash and it had progressed from 30% coverage to more than 80% coverage and I was feeling weak and nervous. I decided to bolt to a Clinic that was located in a garage nearby that had one doctor and a labratory that could do analysis for blood platelets. I was entering a small pannick phase knowing that sepsis can spread fast and not long afterward coma followed by death. I didn't want to be tossed into the stinky river so I B-lined it for the hotel as fast as my staggering exhausted gate could propell me. I managed to meet Grant on the street and when he saw me he literally laughed at my state. I was covered in puffy red bumps, my hair was sticking up all over the place, my eyes looked like two yellow holes in the snow, and I was covered in sweat. He asked how I was feeling and when I replied that I was feeling scared he apologised for laughing. I calmed down now that someone was there to help me if something bad was to happen in the next hours.
Grant and I notified the Captain that I was very ill and that we would not be making the journey out to his boat and that he need not wait for us. I needed to sleep and pretty much slept all day and all night. In the morning after the second night in Turbo my condition had worsened. All I could think about was getting trapped in this small backwater and having no immediate medical attention. I was certain that I had Denge fever but my platelets were still within the normal range but more on the "low"normal range according to the blood test results.
I popped 1000mg of acetominophen (tylenol) layed down for an hour and a half and then summoned all the deepest inner strength possible to get dressed and get on my motorcycle to get the hell out of Turbo. I had a fever of 38.8 according to the disposable thermometer and I was extremely fatigued to the point I was worried about falling asleep on the bike. Thankfully the breeze provided by the highway speeds and the overcast day made for ideal conditions and the 1000mg dose of Tylenol made the difference. Despite feeling the equivalent of being mildly intoxicated (similar to 4-5 beers) I was able to handle the bike like second nature. I guess riding 8-10 hours a day for 7 months makes the machine an attachment. However, I did missjudge a corner and leaned the bike over far enough to burn the edge of my boot on the asphalt...on a dirtbike that's way leaned over!
Grant lead the way for most of the ride and I was happy to mindlessly follow occasionally drifting off to other thoughts and not paying any attention at all. Thankfully we made it back to Cartegena and had a good meal before crashing for the night. I popped 1000mg more tylenol and in the middle of the night I awoke to use the bathroom and realized that I was completely covered in sweat and the blurry outline of my body was stained dark in the light green sheets of the bed. Apparently the fever had broke and I was already feeling a little better. When I had gone to bed I was 95% covered in red, by morning the red was all but gone and only dark purple dots remained near my ankles where the blood had pooled under the skin.
Grant and I are currently looking for new boats and hanging out in Cartegena until one shows up.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Park Tyrona, Colombia

Peering out from the jungle towards the beach
View from atop a small hill overlooking a sheltered bay

Christmas tree worms living on a brain corral.

Another type of tube worm that was quite common and colorful.

Taganga & Parque Tyrona, Colombia

Snorkling at a small reef inside Parque National Tyrona, With new friends, Michelle, Maurice and Matt.
The last beach that we encounted on our trek through Tyrona

The town of Taganga from a trail that makes its way to Playa Grande.

Local fish for sale. This kettle of fish was in a wheel burrow being walked to different restaurants that buy the fish as they come in from the sea.

As I rolled into Taganga, Colombia I spotted a couple of folks of the caucasion persuasion standing in front of a dive shop. I stopped and inquired about accomidations and also what the diving course was all about. In the minutes that followed I had a place to stay and a spot booked on a boat for the morning out to a dive location with a diving instructor named Chopper.
I checked into Villa Esther which was run by an 81 year old man that looked like he was pushing 65 at the maximum. Although he was kind of slow when making his way around the hostal guest house he was definately fast at adding charges to my daily bill. Unknown to me there was an Israile hostal right next door that pumped techno music all night beginning at 11pm and playing well into the wee hours of the morning.
I had booked my SCUBA diving instruction through Aquantis, a reputable dive shop in the centre of town. I was pretty excited to recieve instruction and get into the deep blue sea. Chopper began with several basic SCUBA diving exercises at a beach some 15 minutes boat ride into Parque Nacional Tyrona. Several exercises were given which included mask clearing and what to do when running out of air for example. Anyhow, I seemed to really enjoy the diving experience, so much so, that I proceeded to dive 30 times in a row and attain a level of Rescue Diver which complements my EMT training.
The under water environment was a laugh and a half. Actually in my advanced diver course my instructor brough me and my dive buddy Eric from Sweden down to 30 meters where nitrogen narcosis becomes apparent in most people. Eric and I were given simple math problems and also asked to spell the USA presidents name backwards. I forgot to multiply when asked to multiply and Eric amazingly was able to spell George Washington backwards. Unfortunately Obama was the name that we were looking for and we all had a good laugh at 4 Atm pressure 30 meters below the sea. We ascended up to 20 meters where the nitrogen narcosis wore off and I reflected at how dangerous Nitrogen Narcosis really could be and how it alters your state of consiousness. In some people the Narcosis causes feelings of contentment and a disregard for safety. Some people have taken their dive gear off and drown as they were completely intoxicated and happy. Infact I read that the effects of Nitrogen Narcosis is also described as the "martini effect". Meaning that at 12 meters one is influenced similarily to intoxicating effect of one martini, at 30 meters its equivalent to 3 martini's and so on.

After finishing my Open Water, Advance Diver, and then my Rescue Diver I almost considered continuing on to become a Dive Master. I considered scrapping my plans to ride through Central America and just stay in Taganga for another month and a half to complete the apprenticeship and complete 40- 60 further dives. Alas, with much contemplating I barely made the decision to continue on and perhaps do the Dive masters in another year.

On my last 2 day's in Taganga I met 3 American folks that convinced me to accompany them on a hike into the Parque Nacional Tyrona. I was hesitant but I was easily convinced since I heard alot of positive feed back from other folks that went into the park. I was in the company of Michelle from Florida, Maurice from NY and Matt from Hawaii. Together we hopped into a cab and proceeded to the park gate. From here it was an easy hike through the jungle for about 1.5 hours until we came across the first of several beaches that had accomidations that ranged from tents, hammocks, to lockable rooms. Most people opted for the hammocks to take advantage of the sea breeze, but the trade off was the carniverous mosquito population that gorged themselves on the unsuspecting sleepers.

The first beach that we encounted was stunning. The Caribbean Sea was a colorful splash of aqua green and aqua blue with foamy white waves rolling into soft light brown sandy beaches held in place by towering palm trees. As we contined walking I kept thinking how surreal the surroundings were and how I would'nt appreciate this environment until sometime later. We eventually made our way to the last beach in the park that had a great area for swimming behind a corral reef. We all chilled out at this beach for a couple of hours before making our way back out. On returning to the exit we stopped in at one last beach which was one of the most stunning places I've ever been. Here I rented a mask and snorkle from a woman standing under a palm tree. The reef was shallow and had a variety of fish inhabitants and a decient array of corrals. I managed to pop a few under water pics of some interesting christmas tree worms and one of a sea snail common to this region.

The time had come to leave and we headed back to the park gate to rendevous our cab which were arranged prior to pick us up. That evening after hiking we decided to head into Santa Marta and cap the day off with dinner and a few drinks. Here, Maurice befriended a 15 year old kid who looked 10 years old because he was stunted in his grown from huffing gasoline and being malnurished. Maurice brought the young fellow to a grocery store and bought him some juice and a few other items that the young fellow wanted. We thought of giving the kid a ride back to his shanty town but the grocery store owner strongly persuaded us not to go there after dark. We said good bye to the happy young lad and he took off into the night. I mentioned to Maurice that he had a big heart and was very generous. It is hard to imagine what it must be like for a person that is born into a cycle of povery and has limited chance for success.

We all returned back to Taganga and capped the night off with relaxing around Maurice and Matt's pool at their hostal. The evening was great and I was counting my blessings to be so fortunate.
In the morning I open up my e-mail to find a note from a captain regarding a boat to Panama. Apparently there wouldn't be another boat for a while that could accomidate a motorcycle so in a split decision I weighed the pro's and con's and decided that I'd finish what I started and continue on with my Moto to Cartegena and load my bike onto a 45 foot catamiran and sail north ward along the Caribbean Coast to Panama.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

MIA Taganga, Colombia

Beach front at Tanganga
Roberto atop his GS1200

I was warned about kite strings hanging down from powerlines that could potentially slice your neck off, hence Brasillians ride with kite cutters attached to their bikes. Here, however, there were kite strings caught up in the high tension power transmission lines. I wonder how many fried carcasses there were below the lines?

Just before Tanganga there was a hint of the ocean and the beaches ahead. The road from the Venezuela / Colombia border was the most beautiful road. I liked the ocean vistas and riding along the ocean cliffs. Occasionally the road veered inland a bit and I rode through a tunnel like canopy with huge trees towering over the roadway.

As some may have speculated I have been missing in action and enjoying the atmosphere and beach town life of a small Colombian destination named Taganga. I rolled out of Adicora and began to make my way to Maracaibo just 170km from the Colombian border. I decided to spend the night in a hotel that was suggested by the guide book called "Hotel Nuevo Montevideo". Despite its catchy name I believe that it was a love motel that the guide book advertized as an "Old rambling mansion, a tranquil place with high celings and AC" As usual I arrived just before dark and had little option but to check in and accept the dank stale cigarette smoke tinted air and the more than adequate ventilation provided by the multiple cigarette burns present in the bed sheets.
Before this point I had only heard about scheduled power black-outs in Venezuela. I had to wait until 700pm until the power was turned on in this region before I could turn on any lights and log onto the internet to determine currency exchange etc. To find internet on a sunday night I had to go to a five star hotel located on the waterfront. It was here while waiting in a dark lobby for the power to come on that I heard the english accent of a woman say "Grassyas" instead of gracias. I piped up and said hello in english and the woman in her late 40's turned her attention to me. Straight away she introduced herself. When I asked what had brought her to this part of the world she replied she was simpliy following God's orders as she was the chosen one. She began to explain to me that she was a messiah and that she was sent her by God to save the people. She was all over the map and it was very difficult to follow the conversation. At one point she mentioned that her feeling's about human Pride and Ego were self served indulgences and very evil. I decided to add that they were'nt evil but most likely an evolutionary behaviorial trait that somewhere in our ancestorial lineage had been a beneficial mechanism for sucessful reproduction and survial and when used as a tool, pride and ego can be beneficial.
At this remark the woman stood up and began pointing in my face and explaining that she was a doctor and that I was making no sense. I asked "what kind of doctor"? and she replied she was a doctor of everything and that she had a PhD..... in "Computers, Science, "N'other stuff" . The topic took a swing immediately to sexual exploitation of women across the world and how men made all the decisions and have exploited women all across the world. She explained that her own family had turned her back on her and had admitted her to a psychiatric hostital for treatment. She told me that she had spent 3 weeks strapped to a chair with nurses coming in and jabbing needles and drugs into her. Her emotions began to flare and she was beginning to go through cycles of extreme happiness immediately followed by rage.
All of a sudden it tured 700pm and the lights came on in the lobby and I saw that the woman was decked out in jewelery and dressed very finely. Her eyes were wide and scanning me and the room. She was obviously a nut case and I was getting kind of nervous and I was calmly talking this woman down so she didn't explode. As it was mothers day I asked if she had any kids, this bought me the precious time to say that I needed to be excused to call my mom and end the conversation all together. To make a long dramatic story short I did what I needed to do and returned to my flea bag hotel to the freezing air conditioned room in anticipation of crossing into Colombia the next morning.
I was up at the crack of dawn and pulled my cigarette burned sheets away from my body and sat on the edge of my bed. For a minute I began to read the names of all the people that have apparently felt it was of utmost importance to etch their names in the head board of the bed. For a second I thought about photographing the bed graffiti but decided against it as I really didn't want to remember this place.
I rolled up to the border between Venezuela and Colombia and within 18km of Colombia I used my last coins to fill my tank, costing no more than 16 cents. I was really nervous about crossing out of Venezuela but it was the easiest of all crossings thus far. Also I was worried about getting into Columbia, but, this too proved to be a slice of pie. In total I believe that the entire process took no more than 45 minutes ...the fastest border crossing yet!
The road into Columbia quicky entered the mountains and with the change in topography the landscape morphed into lush green fields and canopy covered roads I finally arrived in Santa Marta where I grabbed a bite to eat. I decided that I'd spend the night in Taganga and headed in that direction toward a small fishing village that has become a tourist haven that offers great SCUBA diving and a relaxing atmosphere...erik sweezy sent me here!!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Adicora, Venezuela

Roberto Sr, and Roberto Jr. Who I befriended at the beach and stayed at their beach house which they generously opened up to me as their guest.
Although the beach had soft sand, you had to becareful of bottle caps and other dangers that you might step on.

Adicora's beautiful waterfront and lighthouse.

Kitesurfers get ready for the starters pistol before embarking on a long distance kitesurf to another town.

I was treated to a typical Venezuelan lunch and came face to face with the fact that I really am a seafood lover afterall.
I rolled out of the historical center of Coro with plans on arriving in the town of Adicora to soak up some sun and try either kitesurfing or windsurfing. The road out to Adicora was a wind swept highway that had blowing sand and salt spray which coated my visor in a white mist. I had to stop a couple of times to clean the visor so that I'd be able to keep a keen eye open for the multiple herds of goats, cows and wild donkeys roaming the shoulders of the road.
I finally arrived in Adicora just before noon and decided to ride onto the compacted beach along with several cars that were already parked there. Apparently there was a long distance kitesurfing competition going on and competitors from all over drove to Adicora to partake in the event.
I was just idleing along in first gear when a white truck pulled up along side of me and a guy named Roberto Andara rolled down his window and introduced himself. Roberto has done several long distance rides on his BMW GS 1200 and is the owner of several motorcycles. As well he is a former enduro racer with many titles and championships. He was hanging out on the beach taking in the kite race when he happened to sight me. Roberto explained that he knew the ropes of travelling and that he was offering to host me for a few days so that I could get a real Venezuelan beach life experience. I scanned Roberto for 2 seconds and decided that he was a legit dude and I followed him to his lovely beach house where I got to meet his father Roberto Senior.
For 3 nights and 2 days I was fortunate enough to be in the company of these two interesting individuals. Roberto Sr. is a retired General from the Armed Forces and served as a military Atache Diplomat. He had several interesting facts and information that he shared about Venezuela that I was completely oblivious about. Roberto Jr. is an active business man that is involved in selling and distributing good to the government. Both of these fine fellows spoke english very well and this made conversation quite easy, although, I really should have been practicing my spanish.
I decided to head out into the little town of Adicora to have a bite to eat on my own one afternoon while the fella's were kite surfing. I tried to strike up a conversation with on eof the locals while buying a beer. Apparently my Spanish is so badly mixed up with Portugese and French that the poor fellow who was mychosen listening victim asked if I was Portugese. I explained to him that I was Canadian and that I was talking Spanish. He simply shrugged his shoulders and stated that he didn't understand.
Roberto Jr. suggested that I try and take an 8 hr kitesurf lesson and become certified with IKO (International Kitesurf Organization). I decided that this was probably a good idea and found a fellow named Christian who was willing to teach me. Christian was a very good instructor, however, he had alot of problems with punctuality. I calculated that I stood on the beach waiting for this guy for more than 5 hours over the two days because when he said that he'd meet me at 10am he showed up at 12pm, when he said that we'd do a couple of hours that evening he didn't even show up. The next day he was supposed to show up at 930 and I stood on the beach until 1pm. There was alot going on around the beach to occupy me but I was kind of excited to kitesurf and this gave me the feeling of anxiousness rather than relaxation. Anyhow, I managed to get 6 hours of instruction out of him but no certification as of yet.
Roberto suggested that I accompany him to Caracas and get to see the infamous city that everyone that I spoke to told me was a nightmare of muggers and theifs. I decided that I really needed chain and sprockets, brakes bled, rear mono shock repaired, oil changed and air filter cleaned as well as battery fluid topped up. I agreed that going to Caracas was a good idea so I back tracked 525km to Caracas following Roberto in his truck to get the much needed work done on the bike. I performed all the work myself with the help of Roberto in the parking lot of his condo complex. As for the mono shock, Roberto has dozens of connections and had a friend repair the shock for less than $50 USD. Infact Roberto is such a good negotiator that when we got pulled over by the police at an intersection, while in Roberto's truck, he managed to talk the police into letting him off of a fine well over a 100 dollars for cell phone use and agreed to hook the cop up with a clothes iron and a microwave. Roberto said that this was just part of living in Venezuela and the next time that he needs a police inspection done on his motorcycle in preparation for a big trip he'll call this policeman and avoid standing in a huge line up at the government office for hours.
I'm currently staying at Roberto's beautiful condo with his wife Erica and 11 year old daughter Marianna who attends school here in Caracas and is quite creative with art. Each day Roberto wife cooks some sort of typical Venezuelan dish and I have encouraged her to come to Canada and open a restaurant. Roberto has gone well out of his way to ensure that I attain everything that I require for the rest of my trip. He has also toured me around the city and introduced me to many people. I think I may have managed to talk him into doing a motorcycle / kitesurfing trip around New Brunswick as we have found out that Shippigan is one of the best kite surfing destinations in Canada.
With all the bike maintenance complete Roberto is going to ride the 525km back to Adicora with me on his BMW GS 1200 so that we can go kitesurfing one more time. We'll stay at his beach house for 2 nights and then I'm off towards Columbia. I'll most likely spend the night in Maracaibo and make my way to the boder town of Paraguachon and cross into Columbia heading towards Santa Marta. I'm still trying to decide whether or not I can swing riding back up through Central America to home and complete the trip. I will look into a boat to Panama and what my time frame will allow.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Puerto Colombia

I rolled out of Cuidad Boliviar and headed north west towards Maracay which is only a couple of hours from Caracas. The highway there was either really good or really bad with many large potholes waiting to taco my wheels. The traffic became increasingly dense and I passed a few accidents, one involving a flipped over transport truck. The traffic was lined up for kilometers and luckily I knew better than to wait. I Ziged & Zagged my way past hundreds of cars and made it to the accident site where there was a piece of equipment trying to right the upside down truck.

Entering Maracay the traffic was grid lock and I began spliting up through and in between the maze of stationary cars. After about an hour of zooming between cars I was becoming quite proficient at weaving ....that is, until, I accidently misjudged the size of the gap between the next few cars. Unfortunately for them I tore their mirrors off in the process of getting through traffic. I heard the plactic mirrors crack and then bounce along the asphalt behind me. Oops!, I laughed at how bad that was of me.

I decided to spend the night in Maracay in a hotel that isn't worth mentioning within the city centre. I awoke in the morning and decided that I'd try and find a map. This was a lost cause and within an hour I was back at the hotel and loading the bike for the departure to Puerto Colombia. Puerto Columbia is a Colonial smallish town located on the other side of a mountain range on the coast via a 55km road that passes through Henri Pitter National Park. I had to ascend up a single lane asphalt road to an Elevation of 1200m that had several pull-off for those that needed to pass on coming traffic. Along the way I almost got T-boned several times as the drivers on this road have no conscience and drove at dangerous speeds around completely blind corners.

I arrived in Puerto Columbia and checked into Hostal Colonial as suggested by the guide book. It was a nice little hostal with good motorcycle parking and a big open yard and shaded seating. I decided that I'd lather up in sunscreen and hit the tropical beach (Playa Grande) with its orange fluffy sand and clear blue water. The sand was soft and the water warm. The waves crashed on the beach in a white frothy foam that contrasted the orange sand and blue water. The over hanging Palm trees provided shade from the relentless sun and best of all there was virtually nobody in sight. I went swimming for my token 15 minutes and then retreated to the salvation of my t-shirt and broad brimmed hat before becoming crispy and red.

I returned to the Hostal to chill out before embarking on a little stroll around Puerto Columbia. I decided to climb a little hill that had Jesus at the top. Along the way there were crabs scurrying away from me and crawling under rocks or down holes that they excavated in the ground along the side of the trail. The view from atop Jesus mountain was nice and I took a few minutes to sit down and watch the sunset. Returning down the trail it was dark and the really big crabs were out on the trail. It was like a scene out of Harry Potter where by large crabs would slowly retreat down a hole or behing a large tree just out of focus in the distant darkness. There were hundreds of crabs mostly the size of a tea saucers that would start moving toward their hollows. I could only make out their sillouette and it was kind of interesting but also kind of erie.

At the hostal I met quite a few other tourists, Two fellows named Neil and Shaun from England that are travelling around the world and a couple of girls travelling together from Switzerland. I also met a man from Switzerland travelling around with his wife who is native to Venezuela. They were both artists and host events and attend meetings all over the world and are quite active in the art community.

In the morning I decided that I'd head to Coro, a colonial town with a very attractive historical centre. In 1993, Coro was listed as a Unesco World heritage site and attracts visitors from all over the world wishing to stroll its streets and absorb its romantic feel. The streets are cobble and the building's are short and colorful with beautiful wooden doors. I checked into Hostal Gallo owned by Eric and his wife. Eric is originally from France and I believe that his wife is native to Venezuela. Their young son is loads of entertainment and very energetic running around all day in his tighty whitey's believing that he is either Bat Man Or Spider man....who knows.

Last night a group of other tourists from France invited me to see the nearby sand dunes. I decided to hop on a bus with them and head over to the dunes park. As it was a National Park I was suprized that there were so many 4x4's dune buggys and ATV's burning around amung the people that trekked into the park to see the sunset. National Parks here have a slighty different meaning to what I'm used to I guess.

Today I'm heading to the Paraguana Peninsula, its touted as one of the countries windsurfing and kite surfing capitals. I figure that I might partake in a lesson or two and exhaust myself trying to learn a new sport while I'm here.