Well, where to begin.
Following the last exciting installment we have done a lot. We drove with Francisco to his sister´s house in a town called Nirgua. The house is an old one which has been remodelled to Francisco´s design. It incorporates a central courtyard where several very noisy parrot type birds and a very energetic dog live. Whilst taking time out for recharging batteries we were woken early and tired out! Go figure. We spent Saturday and Sunday nights here.
Next it was Monday and off to the coastal town of Chichiriviche where we planned to spend a bit of beach time. We found a Posada which was within our price range and set about having us some relaxation. Unfortunately, with all the rain that Venezuela has been having the beautiful coastline with clear blue waters that was shown in all the pictures has been turned into a brown sludge. The only clear water being off the coast around the islands. We found this out by latching onto a group of Germans who were staying in the same Posada as us. One of them spoke fluent Spanish so we joined up with them and let them negotiate the throng of tour boat pilots to get us out to Cayo de Sombrero (Sombrero Island) for the day. Another boat trip on the Tuesday to Varadero Beach and a night out to a pizza restaurant and that was the end of Chichiriviche.
Wednesday we caught a bus to Coro which is a the old capital city of venezuela and is famous for it´s sand dunes. We strolled the city that evening and Thursday morning and then took a bus ride out to the Dunes on Thursday afternoon. these were magnificent and I cannot do justice to them with words so look at the pictures!
We got a night bus to Merida arriving 11 hours after we set off at 5.30 or so on the Friday morning. Merida is awesome in that is is sufficiently high in the Andes that the mossies don´t live here, and the temperature and humidity are sufficiently low that it is very pleasant. Friday afternoon saw us strolling the town while we contemplated the 4 day / 3 night adventure tour to the Los Llanos grassland savannah that we were booked onto the following day.
Saturday morning we were up, fed and watered in time for the 8.00 arrival of our tour guide, Al. He was (and probably still is) a sound guy who acted as driver, David Attenborough, Bill Odie, Steve Irwin (the ghost of) and translator for the next 4 days. Our group was an ecclectic 8 person mix of English (us), Swiss and French and we all got on very well. The drive there and back was a full day in each direction so our 4 days was actually 2 but they neglected to mention that when they sold us the tour! We arrived late Saturday night and were given dinner and shown to our hammocks. On the way we stopped at a bbq restaurant where you buy meat by the kilo and it was the best restaurant I have ever been to. We ate like kings for the equivalent of 5 quid each!
Rather than a complete run down of our activities here is an overview:
Sunday morning - searched for an Anaconda. We found a 3m long youngish female and took the obligatory pictures. We also held an Iguana and saw a multitude of birds, caymen, capybara, etc.
Sunday afternoon was horse riding. All I have to say about this is they have no steering, throttle, brakes and I can´t ride them!
Monday morning - river boat trip. We swam with fresh water dolphins (and piranahs as well we were told afterwards). The guides caught piranahs which we later ate but fed some to caymen and a nearby eagle of some sort. We also found a prehistoric turtle which looks like nothing else I have ever seen.
Monday afternoon - safari to the local university grounds where we saw more fantastic scenery and birds/animals in their hundreds. It was amazing. More piranah fishing on the way home (the guides caught all the fish with the exception of 2 by a Swiss dude and 1 by the Frenchman). Piranah for tea and then hammock for bed.
Tuesday was a long drive home in the Landcruiser and sleep in a real flat bed with a mattress - heaven.
The next exciting installment will be with you in a week or so but in the meantime we have walking, hot springs and canyoning to keep us occupied.
Off now into the afternoon sunshine. Hope you are all well - because Zoe and I certainly are.