With Rafik Saab in front of his shop, BiciMoto.
Rafik finetuning the bicycle for me.
In uniform with my riding partners, Moises and Yovanni.
Bicycle ride is done...
March 20, 2012 10.6738N,63.2428W
On Sunday, CAPEX Industries of Venezuela provided me with a driver who took me to Guiria. His name was Daniel and during a reorganization of the maritime industry in Venezuela, he had found himself between jobs as a marine engineer. He spoke English, and understood exactly what needed to be done to transport my boat to Carupano. On the way, we stopped by the port in Carupano to gather as much information as possible.
When we reached Guiria around 2 pm, we called Rafik Saab at Bicimoto to alert him to our arrival. Soon we would meet at his shop to fit a mountain bike for my use. Rafik was the sponsor and supporter of the Club Ciclistico Guiria. He had already arranged two local riders, Moises and Yovanni to accompany me on Monday during what would be a training ride for them until Carupano, a distance of 137 km.
Rafik rode bicycles avidly until a back injury forced him to slow down. He still had a carbon fiber road bike, and he was lending me his training bike. He provided me a team jersey, snacks and electrolyte drink, and a bundle of small aromatic bananas. A helmet, a pair of shoes, pump, patch kit, a spare tube followed. He had prepared a little sheet describing my journey in Spanish, then he made me sign it. "I will slide it inside the frame, it is important," he’d say in Spanish. That night only a Chinese restaurant was open where Rafik treated us to dinner. We would meet the "muchachos" at the hotel at 5 am to begin the ride while the day was still cool.
Daniel woke up at 4:30, knocking my door. He was to drive ahead to Carupano to handle the bureaucracy surrounding my departure while I pedaled the distance. My riding buddies knew every hill, every bump, every descent, and most importantly every panaderia along the way. I could understand enough of their Spanish to remain in tune to their advice and encouragements. “This is the last hill, all downhill after that” was a welcome remark toward the end. The sluggish feeling after coming off the ocean on the 11th and eating a lot and not exercising at all since, was enhanced by the early start and the frequent short steep hills during the first 40 km of the ride. Beyond that the hills turned into long undulations, I felt tired but could move faster. I had missed that "tired but moving along" sensation; the burn felt good. We were done in 7 hours, averaging 20 km/h.
Once in Carupano, my riding buddies took a taxi back to Guiria after lunch, then with Daniel we visited the port authority, met the captain of the port, Captain Jorge Fernandez. His request for additional documents and summary of the safety equipment on board fortunately could be handled by emailing him the same, and the next day he would seek approval from Caracas for my departure. At the same time, the angel who had been watching over me for a safe passage through Venezuelan waters, Captain Mildred Cobos on Isla de Margarita, had arranged the Venezuelan Sea SAR authority ONSA to provide a letter of support. She was the one on duty when the CAPEX team contacted them the night of anchor trouble that I had in the Gulf of Paria. These same authorities had a choice to be difficult, or to empathize and support what I did. They chose the latter. They have honored my journey, recognizing the challenge and sharing the excitement.
My journey was not supposed to touch Venezuela. I was supposed to pass north of Trinidad and continue on toward the Yucatan. Yet as has always been the case, the journey took a different turn, taking me on a path to meet kind people who opened doors ahead of me that I did not know existed. I have seen the kind side of Venezuelans, I have met those who became genuine supporters who did not know me the day before, I have been blessed to come across strangers who did not remain so for long and instead became friends for life.
At 3 am on Wednesday morning, Daniel will pick me up from the hotel in Puerto Piritu where I am typing this dispatch. At 4 am, we will meet the truck driver at the marina in Puerto La Cruz and begin the 6 hour drive toward Carupano. We will use a crane at the port to put the boat in the water, then I will tie alongside a coast guard patrol boat. I expect the on-shore wind to weaken by 10pm to midnight, and I will begin my row with calmer night time conditions. Weather pending, I should be rowing Wednesday night. You will be able to tell by using the [ORS MAP] link on the top right corner of this homepage.
I have updated the Google Earth representation of the journey to date. In red is the actual course that I have followed, and the antipodal track is indicated as a green line.
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The 2011 tax year concluded at the end of December. Thank you for participating in our efforts to raise funds to build additional classrooms at the Mateves Secondary School in Arusha, Tanzania on the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro. If you pay taxes in the United States, your contribution can be claimed as a tax-deduction. We will provide an accounting of all funds received and applied toward the Mateves cause, effective the end of 2011, sometime after my landfall.
Around-n-Over has already transferred 6,000 USD toward the Mateves cause. The team will report separately on the foundations laid, walls built... More information is available on our Projects and Score Card pages. Our Board of Directors will continue to monitor progress well into 2012.
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