Start of the Andes

Trip Start Dec 12, 2007
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Venezuela  ,
Thursday, January 31, 2008

After a freezing 12 hour bus ride, we finally were entering Merida.  I actually got a bit of sleep this time which was good for once.  The hour leading up to entering Merida, the mountains just grew and grew.  The morning only was just dawning, as I gazed upon it, through the saftey of my warm blanket wrapped around me, exposing the beautiful mountains that would soon be lit up by the emerging sun.

We exited the bus station to bump into Andy, the Czech guy on a months vacation.  We bordered some strangers 4WD that offered us accomodation, but once we saw it, we definitely wanted to head else where, so she drive us to the other hostels that were pretty much small houses diveded up in small rooms for travelers such as myself.  We paid the lady 10,000 Bolivares for taking us and checked into the Posada Paty.  The door ways were really low and narrow, in the middle section the roof disapeared letting the morning sunlight shine through.  This place has alot of character.  We offloaded our backpacks and went outside to meet the other travelers.  2 guys that are living here, renting out the rooms for a couple of months that disapeared before I got their names, and Jessica from Amsterdam who is just about to head home.  It was wierd as she looks exactly like my mum did at her age, haha!

After settling in and chatting to a few people, Andy, Jess, Matty and I went out to discover the town.  We already had loved what we had seen.  The town has a couple of universities here, so lots of young people and lots of cars that come with it unfortunately, which line the narrow streets like crazy.  Merida stretches narrowly in the shadow of the mountains rising up beside it to a peak of 5,100m.  Venezuela's highest mountain.  Merida itself only sits at approx 1,300m.  However we are thinking of taking the worlds longest and highest cable car systems tomorrow, where we can hit 4,800m for our first view of the Andes mountain range.  The streets are divided up in grid like patter, unlike most other latin cities and towns that normally have streets that go in any direction.  The buildings here are colourful and the streets are clean.  We discovered an Ice Cream place that is in the guiness book of records for the most flavours.  It wasnt open but we will return later to sample the Cervaza (Beer) flavoured Ice Cream, haha!

Here the police are not corrupt like in Caracas and walking around was no issue.  Everywhere I went, I found myself constantly gazing up at the mountains, that shadow the city until the sun rises far up enough to shed light over the place.  We did food shopping after a while of walking around and bought things for desayuno and dinner.  Its so good having a kitchen we can use again!  The last month, we have had nothing but fruit, chicken and rice, which is the typical caribbean meal.  Spaghetti bolagnase tonight though - but unfortunately wont be as good as mums!

In the night, Matty, Jess, some Danish guy and myself headed back to get some Ice cream, they had the wierdest flavours you could imagine!  Hundreds to name, but we had a variety of things...  Cerveza, Rum, Sangria, Sambucca, Cheese, Shrimp (yep, you heard right), liquor de Coco, Jurrasic park (?) and red wine.  The shrimp flavour was so disgusting!!!  Who ever thought of mixing fish with ice cream??  Was funny thought because the Danish bloke had that, and he had a cold so couldnt taste it, so he ate the entire thing! haha!  We retired though to bed after a glass of red that Jess (the overbearing vegetarian, wine conesuer) picked out.

5.45am hit and the alarm bell sounded.  It was the 30th, and we were getting up to take a ride on the cable car system.  Jess, Matty and I had a quick breakfast and headed out across the road, where the start of it is.  It was opened in 1958 but then shut down because it kept breaking.  Re opened a decade ago for tourists again luckily.  We rugged up as at 5km up the air will get very thin and cold.  Alot of people get strong altitude sickness from such heights.  The cable system consisted of about 4 small stops to change carts along the way.  As we rose, the vegetation slowely changed and the towreing mountains got closer and closer as I kept gazing up!  After approximately an hour of ascending we passed the vegetation line and all that remained was the grey sharp boulders, spotted with snow.  We hit the end of the cable line and hopped off.  At this altitude, walking in a straight line is difficult enough, and makes you puff alot.  Walking up any hill is enough to sping your head out also and make you dizzy.  I climbed around outside on the mountain for a while, being careful not to exert myself and get sick, taking dozens of pictures.  However after an hour and a half stumbeling around we decided it was time to head back down as we were all getting sleepy.  We needed food! haha.  We all got very fatuiged so quickly and nearly fell asleep on the way down.  Last time I felt like this was when I ascended Jungfrau in the Swiss Alps.  However this place isnt quite as spectacular as the Alps, but still quite amazing.  This place however is alot higher and made Merida look like a mere few dots far far below.  A beautiful first view of the Andes ranges, disapearing into the distance in every direction.  By the time we were down I was nearly asleep, but boiling hot in my thermals I was wearing.

Lunch produced its ever so loving hour!  Jess being an extreme vegitarian cant even look at us eating meat, so she left and matty and myself dug into some ham and a chocolate donut!  (Jas, no chocolate donuts match Aussie ones).  A bunch of highschool kids were there that got all giddy from our presents which we couldnt stop laughing at, they couldnt of been older than 14.  Its just the fact that we look different to everyone else here.  Venezuela is full of deep fried foods, especially Caracas, that seems to have only that.  Merida thankfully has a bit more of a variety.  We all planned on drinking tonight, so we headed back to write my journal with the spare time we had.  Beers at pubs here range inbetween 1,500 Bolivares and 2,500 Bolivares.  (35c to 75c).

Friday night, Carnival starts for a week.  Everywhere in South America this week is celebrated and bullfighting is everywhere.  Im not particulary fond of it, as I disagree with putting the bulls through such agony.  Alot of anti bullfighting art is everwhere on the street.  Looking forward to some of La Fiesta's!!!

Ciao!
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Comments

19561
19561 on

Ah...South America
Great Photo's Clint-Good memory on the 26th Happy Oz Day although I dont think it should be on this date but it gave you a day to remember us back here at home downunder.
Amazing Angel Falls and surrounding Table Top mountains not sure about the matchbox plane to get there Hey! What was it like in the hammock swingin I bet! Cable Car ride looked spectacular and interesting on the altitude-
Read part of your email to Jas on Caracas, glad you both are out of there but will be be on edge if and when the border crossing comes up into Columbia. You could always fly.....just thought I'd try.
Say Hi to Matty-good travels to you both....
Love....Mamma xx

tom_chang
tom_chang on

we miss you
everything sounds and looks amazing. how exciting. MISS YOU CLINTON! love amber and tom.

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