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I Have Cycled Two Months Through Venezuela Experiencing The Socio Economic Disaster The Country Is Going Through

As part of my expedition to cycle the Americas from Alaska to Argentina, I spent two months crossing all of Venezuela, from the Colombian border all the way to Brazil. What surprised me the most, was the contrast between the unique beauty of nature and the socio economic disaster and the desperation of the Venezuelan people.

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By the time I reached the Venezuelan border, I have been on the road for more than one year. In Colombia everyone was talking about the dare socio economic situation in the neighboring country and I was warned by almost everyone not to go in there, as the risk of getting robbed or killed was very high. But curiosity pushed me to do it and I have to say that it was a risky but very interesting experience.

Radu Paltineanu

Even though the portrait of commandante Chavez is omnipresent throughout Venezuela, support for his so called Bolivarian Revolution, seems to fade away.

Upon entering Venezuela, I changed 150 $ into Venezuelan Bolivares and I was literarally shocked to get stuck with a sack of money. Venezuela has the highest inflation rate in the world and the most valuable bill up until now is the 100 bill. Given that a dollar is worth 3000 bolivares, that is a lot of bills.

Radu Paltineanu

When trying to change 150$ into Bolivares, I was up for a surprise. Venezuela has the highest inflation rate in the world.

Every 80-100 km there is a Bolivarian Guard post. They are the ones controlling the traffic of illegal stuff but I was told by Venezuelans that they often commit abuses against citizens and take bribes. However, they were really nice to me. Some of them were searching my bags, others would let me go. Some of them even gave me water and food and provided shelter at night.

Radu Paltineanu

Generally speaking the Bolivarian Guards were nice to me. The only time, I had to bribe someone in Venezuela, it was near the city of Calabozo in the center of the country, where the police asked me for 500 Bolivares (roughly 25 US cents). The funny part is that after bribing them, they offered me a coffee.

There is a general sadness in Venezuela. People feel betrayed and empoversihed by their own government, while president Maduro accuses US for repeated ¨imperialist attacks¨.

This lady who`s family hosted me in San Cristobal, wishes as many other Venezuelans do, to see a new government and the coming back of the days before chavism.

On my way I have seen people queing for basic food and for gasoline. Venezuela is home to the largest proven oil reserve in the world, yet people are queing for it as the country does not have the full capacity to refine it.

Radu Paltineanu

Be it for basic food or gasoline, Venezuelans have to queue for everything. The non government subsidized imported products that can be found at large are unaffordable for the majority of the population, as a minimum salary is roughly 25$/month.

The scarriest moment of my time in Venezuela came when I was almost attacked in a hotel. Given that there are almost no tourists in Venezuela at the moment, I was an easy target. In the central city of Calabozo, I was searched for an attempted robbery at 4 am in my hotel by a group of armed persons. My luck was that the night guard didn`t know the room I was in and the attackers couldnt find me.

Via crimejunkie.com

Robbery is an everyday reality in Venezuela, being one of the countries with the highest crime rate in the world. The morning after the attempted attack, I was escorted out of town by a heavily armed squad of the Bolivarian National Guard of Venezuela.

The Socio Economic disaster that Venezuela is going through at the moment, highly contrasts with its natural Beauty. The last 300 km of cycling through Venezuela`s Gran Sabana, provided me with some of the most scenic and spectacular landscape I have seen so far in my journey through the Americas.

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