After leaving the hotel in Puerto La Cruz, Jeanne and I got our tires rotated at a Goodyear Tire Center in town. We then drove south on highway 16 towards El Tigre. Our goal for the day was Ciudad Bolivar.
Along the way, I stopped at the city of Anaco to take photos of a wall alongside the road that I liked. Tyler, Jeanne, and Shay told me they were going to a McDonald’s in town, and I agreed to meet them there.
The McDonald’s was 4km off of the highway, and I arrived while the others were still standing in line ordering. The McDonald’s was the same as any other McDonald’s in the world, except the air conditioning was turned up to the point where icicles were forming on the windows.
I don’t believe in air conditioning. It’s fine if you’re sick or unwell and your body cannot cool itself, but otherwise I think it keeps you from adapting to the natural climate of wherever you are. As I sit here in my car, the sun is shining outside, but there’s a cool breeze. It’s hot, but bearable. The other three people on the trip drive with the air conditioning on, and then complain about the heat. I find the temperature to be what I’d expect from a equatorial country. I’d much rather be cool, but if I am going to drive through the equator, I don’t want to sit in an air-conditioned car and watch the tropics projected on my windscreen. I want to feel it, smell it, and taste it.
As I write this, I’ve been sitting in the parking lot of the McDonald’s for 1 1/2 hours. It’s not the most scenic place to park… under a tree in a forest would be preferable. I’m hoping that the others finish whatever they’re doing soon, so that we can find a reasonable camping spot tonight.
Tyler, Shay, and Jeanne returned, bearing a gift of Tanqueray and olives. We mounted up and hit the road again, stopping only once on the drive south to get gas.
The drive south from Puerto La Cruz to Ciudad Bolivar is across mostly flat countryside covered with low trees. It reminded me of the rolling plains of Minnesota, except with much less open water. Several storms rolled through while we were driving, cooling the air considerably.
We stopped at the roadside restaurant ‘El Carreta’ just before the fork in the road that goes to Soledad. We ate dinner and asked them if we could spend the night. They seemed delighted to have us, and asked us to come into the fenced compound, where they felt we would be safer. I gave their little boy a Grannie Smith apple which I bought in Anaco, and he looked like I’d given him a wonderful treasure. He smiled wickedly and scurried away holding it in both hands.
Right now we’re all lined up in the back of their yard, and everyone is working on their vans. I think we’re all looking forward to spending the first night in the van since first arriving in South America.
We’re about 20-30 kms north of Ciudad Bolivar. Tommorrow we’ll drive through Ciudad Bolivar and continue south. Since we went to Canaima earlier, this will advance us two days on the schedule, and we’ll only be 7 days behind.