Thursday, December 30, 2010
Maracay to Puerto La Cruz, 320 miles.
Returning back over the mountains from Cuyagua, our engine started making rather weird noises on the hair pin turns which is not very comforting when you are on remote mountain passes. Tom thought it might be the motor mounts or the bushings or the fan hitting something or God knows what else. Regardless, we decide to have it checked out in Maracay before going further. After pulling into a Goodrich repair shop, we were surrounded by people wanting to help. Fernando, who works there and spoke English, has a mechanic friend who could look at the motor and may be able to help us. Another gentleman, who is an Army General and also spoke excellent English, chatted with us and when we told him our expected route through Venezuela said that he was a General based in Ciudad Bolívar and gave us his contact information for when we arrive there. It is always so much fun meeting people who instantly want to help and who are as interested in us as we are with them. Following Fernando through the chaotic streets of Maracay, we were glad he offered to show us instead of giving directions to his friend’s shop. His friend, Frank verified that yes, our motor mounts and bushings needed to be replaced. We had had this work done before we left home but the road conditions have given the Ford engine a beating. It was getting late and he told us to return the next day and he would have the parts ready to do the work. Needing a place for the night, we remembered that a grocery store we had shopped at in El Limon had a huge guarded parking lot, so we headed there. The security guard brought over the manager who said we could not park overnight but instead directed us next door to a military substation. We pulled in and the militia came over. Smiling, they told us; yes we could park in their lot and showed us to an area not too far from the armed guard point. We were so pleased, this has been a long day and we are tired. Imagine our surprise and gratitude when, not 15 minutes later, a soldier tapped on our door, smartly saluted us and presented us dinner in the form of chicken, rice and plantains. “Thank you so much” both Tom and I said. Later as I gave Winston his last walk of the night, it was comforting to be surrounded by armed military watching over us. The next day, we got up early, said good-bye to the soldiers and we went back to Frank’s shop, getting lost only once on the way. The repairs took all day so it was back to the military station for another night. They waved and called out to Winston as we drove in. Yes, no problem, of course we could stay another night. Finally Wednesday, December 22nd, we were on our way to Puerto La Cruz, the port terminal for ferries going to Isla Margarita which is where we wanted to spend Christmas. It took us two days to drive the 320 miles and bypass Caracas - by the way Venezuelans do not pronounce the S, making it sound like Caracka. We found the terminal and decided to park overnight as the ferry leaves at 7am and we still need to purchase our tickets but there was one more important thing to do. Our family was having their Christmas get-together today and we needed to find an internet to Skype them. The Gran Casino and Hotel filled our purpose. We were able to go to the lounge, have a glass of wine and use the internet. Two security guards in the parking lot kept an eye on our RV. Skypeing our kids and family is so satisfying as we can see as well as hear them. I especially, am feeling a little sad because of the holidays and being so far from the kids and the rest of the clan but as the computer in Sacramento was passed around and we spoke with everyone, for a little while it was as if we were there, sharing in the joy of Christmas. Happy Holidays.