Rio Grande – Montevideo

Rio Grande – Montevideo

My plan to ride down to Chui hit into my laziness. There was 240km to the border, and having stayed until the Saturday morning cos of how lovely Duda’s family was – with my visa expiring on the Sunday – that would be doable, but with a strong headwind forecast for the whole weekend it sounded like a pretty miserable ride through flat fields with nothing to see.

We were up before 6, so they could leave early, and because the bus would leave at 7am. I’d been up trying to get

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Rio Grande

Rio Grande

I was asked when I arrived in Rio Grande how long I’d be staying, but wasn’t sure. Duda however seemed to know and told everyone that I’d stay for the whole week, until he would travel to Gramado with his aunt Silvia, uncle Eduardo and cousin Gui. That would just about work, but leave things a little tight for getting out of the country in time before my visa expired.

My main goal was to get things organised. I had a sleeping pad that had once again started leaking, too many t-shirts

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Valencia – Maracay

Valencia – Maracay

After drinking some nice rum at the house of the cousin of Ivan, my host, we picked up David, another Couchsurfer, from the bus terminal before getting to Ivan’s son’s house around 10:30. I fell into a hammock and was immediately asleep, getting a few hours before being woken up at 2:30 to head to the airport. Ivan’s son was going to Curacao for the weekend and the airport is by the coast, north of Caracas.

Even though we left at 2:30, there was some seriously ridiculous traffic

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Mérida – Acarigua

Mérida – Acarigua

I had a couple of delightful days off in Mérida with Jodi and Ebed. There was plenty of rest thrown in, including a trip to a hot spring, wandering round downtown and drinking plenty of beer. A crate of 36 222ml bottles of beer cost 200 Bolivares – less than $5 at the black market rate. As well as that, there was a visit to a gym class which involved so many squats I managed to tweak a muscle. Unfortunately one of the main attractions of Mérida has been closed for the last few years, although

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Cúcuta – Mérida

Cúcuta – Mérida

My day off was spent hanging out in the house, but in the afternoon I went to the main shopping centre – Ventura Plaza – to change the money I would need for my month or so in Venezuela. In nearly every country I’ve been to so far, I’ve not had to worry about that and just withdrawn money from the cash machines in country thanks to my N&P (now Yorkshire) debit card where they don’t charge me for international usage. That would continue in Venezuela, but for one

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