Total so far: 9,050 miles (14,565 km)
After a torturous flight with far too many stops from Costa Rica I've finally wound up in Caracas, Venezuela. My first task is to change some money and this I'm able to do at the airport in a dark corner away from prying eyes. Now why would I do this you ask? Well, the government exchange rate is 6.3 Bolivars to the dollar, the street value is around 650 Bolivars. Your choice is for it to be either the most expensive country in the world or the cheapest one you have ever visited, I chose the latter. An example, a bottle of beer costs about 5p or 7 US cents. While on the road the locals keep telling me how dangerous the country is, but the reality is far different. I feel perfectly safe, and everyone that I meet is lovely. It is hot, and I'm so glad when I start climbing up into the mountains and the temperature drops. My highest pass is just over 11,000ft and I'm glad to have a great downhill into Merida soon after. Merida is the adventure capital of the country, but there are no tourists other than one Frenchman I meet in the hostel. Not a pretty town but the setting in its valley is wonderful. When I come to move on I start to hear rumours about the border being closed with Colombia. Nobody can give me a definitive answer, so I just have to push on. When I get to the border in San Antonio I'm told that its closed and I can't cross. Helpfully the soldiers say the Northern border crossing is open and I should go there. Unfortunately, it's a 10-day ride through the hottest, steamiest part of the country, and all in the wrong direction. After sweating it out for 10days, the military checkpoints start coming thick and fast. Each one becomes harder to get through as I get closer to the border. Finally, Colombia is only 400yds away, but between my goal and I stand a row of serious looking soldiers. Carefully riding up so as not to startle them they indicate that it would be best for my health if I get off the bike. No amount of negotiation on my part will make them to budge, the whole border is now closed. It is now time to fall back on my cunning plan. This mainly entails riding back up the road and diving into the bush where the soldiers can't see me. Another half a mile in, then turn back towards Colombia, simple. This all go's swimmingly until a border patrol catches me, oops. They do get a bit shouty, and pointy with their guns at this stage before marching me back under arrest to the road. They put me in a room and do a bit of pointing with fingers, and talking at me with loud serious voices over the next hour or so. Finally, they give up as they decide that I am more of an inconvenience if they keep me, so they sent me on my way with a very large flea in my ear. Now it's time to invoke my even more cunning Plan, a giant catapult! No, not really, it involves getting on a plane... BORING!
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