Imagine, running through some of the shadiest, crime-ridden towns you could ever envisage. Your heart´s beating, your eyes are straining, your feet won´t power quick enough, waiting for the moment….
But somehow you get through…to the other side and you find extraordinary people. In a country with a reputation of violence and crime you find the greatest warmth you could ever imagine.
A van screams to a holt and instead of a gun, two warm egg sandwiches are planted in our hands. A car stops behind and 200 Bolivianos appear through the window (a meal for us both). A woman calls us over to chat and before we know it, a pineapple is strapped to the trailer. A lorry waves us down and invites us to stay in his house for as long as we like.
We have stayed in gardens, yards, amongst crowing cokerals, yapping puppies, sneezing pigs and giggling children. We chatted for hours with a local family about their life in the Grand Savanna of Venezuela and with a community of Guianan indians about life as Arawaks and now as Venezuelans in the mining towns. We´ve not always slept, but wow, we have met the most generous and wonderful people.
Today we arrived into Guasipata, a small town nestling below wooded hills. A car hailed us as we ran and two guys darted out asking us to join them in their town as fellow ecologists. On arriving a small group had assembled including the mayor, cancellors and friends. We ran towards them as they clapped and held the Venezuela flag.
It was very emotional, also slightly embarassing, especially as I nodded and said, “Sí”, “Yes”, in agreement to how wonderful we were, when I thought they were saying how wonderful the wildlands of Venezuela are!!! Ooops!
Next our new friends Eduardo and Valentino have planned a meeting with the community and then more food with their friends. They have also been ringing contacts in the towns we will be running through in the next couple of days, so it will just be amazing to have friends to run towards.
But for now we must sleep, ready for that 0400 am start (that I will neve become accustomed) to run and run, before the sun awakes!
If you would like to read more about the Grand Savanna of Venezuela, through which ran on entering the country and which is famed for the highest waterfall in the world, Angel Falls and its stupendous tepuís (incredible rock formations which tower from the savanna with unique, endemic flora and fauna) check out the blog spot in Spanish of Morelia Morillo with whom we stayed for our first nights in Venezuela.