Must be missing an Angel
Trip Start Dec 10, 2011
60Trip End Sep 29, 2012
I am back for another visit back to to Caracas national airport for an early flight to Porta Ordaz and another flight to Canaima National Park to visit Angel Falls, the highest waterfall in the world and also a requested ‘eight’ wonder of the world by popular vote online.
After the excitement and exhaustion of the wedding, I have a stinking cold, blowing my nose every two minutes and feeling a bit sorry for myself. Armed with tissues in my short pockets and bag I set off and say goodbye to Naylin and Edgar who shortly will be making the trip to the airport too for their three week honeymoon. I have had such a lovely time and it was sad to say goodbye to them both but I know I am hopefully going to see them again maybe my side of the pond!
A good friend of Naylin picks me up and is also starting out on his own taxi service for airport pickups. It’s 4 am and I am half asleep and with no tea in me and we set off in his car and for those in the know Charlotte without a good cup of tea can be a bit grumpy! Saul had spent a lot of time living in the UK and honestly was so excited about talking about all things UK, English and football. Unfortunately for him on the latter subject my knowledge is pretty sparse, but I tried to contribute as he talked about his love for Manchester United! He kindly takes me to exactly where I have to go inside the airport, talks with me in the queue and escorts me to the boarding gate entrance, I have another friend in Venezuela he tells me when I come back and gives me his contact details just in case during my week in Venezuela traveling alone.
I eat what can only be described as a HUGE arepa filled with a chicken mix stir fry and I even manage to get my fix of hot black tea with some cold milk! I board the tiny place that seated about 12 people and this was my first connection with an airline called AeroPostal, which just doesn’t seem right to me. Was I going to be issued stamps I thought?, former old Russian airline according to my ride to the airport Saul.
I chat to a nice couple on the plane Jan and Keith from Chepstow, UK. They travel for about seven months a year and we swapped email addresses as they are also later going to the carnival in Barranquilla. I chatted a lot to Jan about how I was feeling sometimes a bit lonely traveling alone and what it’s really like to travel and we discuss a lot and it gives me a lot of encouragement. They have also travelled so much and I see some beautiful landscapes of Bolivia from their camera. I was also happy to be chatting to Jan on this plane as I was actually just a bit scared of my first flight on a tiny one like this where up front I could see the pilot’s controls, and was nervously looking around so it was a great distraction!
When we arrive at the airport that is a shack and a shop in place of a terminal. A traditional Indianese dressed man welcomes everyone from the flight. Well when I say dressed, he had a ‘loin cloth’ to protect his modesty. I hang around for my jeep transport to the lodgings and wait for my room to be ready. It’s hot again and there’s no AC here which is a welcome change (yes some like it hot), however I am even hotter due to my stinking cold. While I am waiting I talk to another lovely couple who are going to live in New Caledonia, a tiny French island, we look it up on my pocket map from my 'point and communicate' book (thanks Laura!). Sounds like a wonderfully perfect place, warm weather, lots of outdoor sports, some jobs for him being ecologist and her architect and they met in Paris, he's French and she’s from Venezuela and just after six months they were apart but true love conquered after all as now they will be reunited soon after this holiday to start their lives together on this paradisal island. I think to myself to go there one day and for me it sounds magical and romantic. Right back to reality and my trip to Angel Falls.
I put on my bikini for the first time in one week and six days and I am happy. We set for the first part of the organised trip and with two girls from Venezuela and our guide we head to the beach and see one of the first waterfall views part of the National Park and the famously photographed three palm trees in the view. I climb into a long canoe boat and cross the water to the other side to walk a bit into the forest to a waterfall we walk under. It is really slippery and we have to take everything off down to our swimming costumes, leaving good shoes on or some socks with their flip flops and take our cameras wrapped in plastic bags stuffed into the pockets of our guide’s shorts. The intensity of the water on your body as you close your eyes holding onto the rope to one side for dear life as you pass under the waterfall is pretty exhilarating. We sit for a while taking photographs and watching the others passing through and looking over the wonderful view of the waterfall crashing down into the lake and water beyond. I start to think about my trip so far, what I have been doing and how right now I am sat here at a waterfall in the sunshine and life is good and I am appreciative of that.
After more walking and a visit to another smaller waterfall we eat a fresh river fish for dinner and I enjoy the double bed and peace and quiet of the village and as we say at home, I sleep for England being a bit knocked out from my stuffed up nose and tiredness! I also find my stash of tea bags are coming in handy as there is only the herbal tea out here.
The next day we head out around 11.30am to take a small narrow boat up river to Angel Falls for about 3 or 4 hours. This was a hard and tiring journey, the water was against us and it was difficult to go upstream, we were even given our sandwiches to eat from the boat whilst the waves were coming over the boat and I was alternating between eating and blowing my nose, nice!
When we got there our guide decided we should wait to the next day to walk up and visit, I then had to discuss with him why that was not a good idea as my plane was going to leave at 1pm the next day and I thought from the length of time it took us to get here it was of course going to take the same to go back. Finally he was convinced and we started the 1.5 hour steep accent to Angel Falls. The ground was covered in roots criss-crossing the way and it was quite a mountain climbing experience I felt trying to go up. It was also late in the day almost 4pm and we were against a time limit of when it would soon darkness would fall and it would not be easy to travel back through this rainforest undergrowth by darkness. On reaching the half way I was exhausted
Angel Falls is named after the US pilot Jimmy Angel, who discovered it when he was on a hunt for his fortune in gold and emeralds back in 1920's. With only access by air and boat to the waterfall, it makes it an attraction off the tourist trail. Watching the water descend over the sheer cliff face from the Tepui (table mountain) rock formation is quite a sight and it feels very much in S.L.OOOOOO.W. (spelling typo for emphasis!) motion. As the water slips over the edge, it dissipates into a cloudy mist and slowly makes it way down till then it hits hard the bottom after it's 1km descent and flows down into the river below. It's very relaxing and surreal and I could imagine when the rainfall levels are higher this makes a mighty noise as the water cascades over. I took a short video of this so you can see what I mean about the slow descent down.
That evening after the long and even more exhausting journey back down as dusk was setting in, we canoed over to a shore with a little shelter and place for us to sleep in my first ever hammock experience, it was great and I put my thermals on and slept inside my silk sleeping bag liner so I was pretty cosy as it did get cooler at night. We shared stories of the local indianese people spirits living in Canaima and that this word comes from the meaning 'killer', over eating freshly cooked bbq chickens on spit roast over the open fire at our camp.
The next day I returned on that hard journey back and ate lunch before heading back to the airport terminal, which was a shack and some a man at a desk writing your name on a paper list in pen to board. I was pretty lucky as I got chose to board a small flight with only five people and so this was my smallest plane yet and I was excited about it, there was just enough room for our bags and the pilot asked me to sit next to him in the cockpit as he flew, asbolutely loved it. I was still blowing my nose continually and in between this trying to smile and not fall asleep. When we landed the pilot asked to carry my bag, and took me to the boarding gate of course not without first asking how long I was staying, was I staying alone and where was I going next. I politely told him I was meeting my friend back in Caracas (kind of true) and headed off for my connection and one more flight back to the green city. Yes I guess I pulled the pilot but I resisted... What an experience in just three days I will never forget.