Friday, October 19, 2012

Maracaibo Shuffle

Demetri needed a Yamaha mechanic, so we went in search of a Yamaha dealer. There are several kinds of Yamaha dealers, generators, boats and motorcycle. A motorcycle dealer was located after some riding around, but they didn’t service bikes. They kindly let me use their Internet connection and took us a few blocks away to a mechanic. The guy in the red shirt is from the Yamaha dealership. Demetri is discussing the work that is needed.


In the courtyard behind the mechanic is a space filled with all manner of machines in various state of repair or skeleton hulks. Surveying the assortment under repair I came to the conclusion they they would fix (or try to fix) anything that burned petroleum products.  When I linked up with Demetri down the road, he shared his story of frustration working with the mechanics. It seems they would not listen to him as he tried to share this experience adjusting the carbonator. Later, after escaping the shop, he had to make the adjustments himself.

After arranging service we headed to a hotel. Demetri was good at doing advance research and had a couple of hotels to see. We finally settled on a place that was a love or auto hotel. The clerk didn’t want us check in immediately. It wasn’t that we were two guys as there were several boy/boy couples leaving the hotel. My guess is that they wanted to be able to rent and re-rent the room by the hour, before we locked it up for the day. Finally we checked in, exchanged some Columbian peso for Venezuelan Bolivars with the hotel owner and went in search of dinner.

I had my first South American hamburger in Maracaibo. It had all the expected things and a few unique twists. The bun and patty were huge. Lettuce and tomato, check. The cheese was a little different and the bacon was more like Canadian bacon then regular. A sprinkling of small thin crisp sticks of deep fried potato added crunch. Finished off with an assortment of ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise. Off the charts good.

After dinner a troop of robot street performers took their position on the corner. They danced to techno music and passed the hat for donations.


After a visit to McDonalds for ice cream and use of the free wifi, we headed east towards the hotel, where we encountered a cathedral that changed colors.

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The hostel owner had given us a lift to the center of town and advised that we take a taxi back to the hotel. This was my first taste of security concerns in Venezuela. The country is locked in a grip of fear. Bars cover every window and people are constantly warning travelers of the dangers of crime. Statistics support the concern, but the odds are still low in my opinion. If I was really risk adverse I never would have left home on this trip.  After dinner we walked a dozen blocks back to the hotel…unscathed.

The next day I left Demetri at the mechanic and headed east towards Caracas where I was invited to stay with Ceniair, a rider I met at the Horizons Unlimited meeting in North Carolina.

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