Somewhere, some days after. 13. 10° 28′ 50″ N, 66° 54′ 13″ W. Caracas. Venezuela. The Sadness of the Last Trip. That the Dakar is the same sloggiando from South America, on the sly, was not known nor given to know. As you may recall, we had noticed that there was something “strange” in the system logistics and in the”mood” of Etienne Lavigne. In the first case, we had given the “blame” for the will to realize a Dakar in the economy, and save the loss of earnings resulting from the long arm of iron, lost, with those Countries that had been for almost a decade, the hen that lays the golden eggs. In the second case, well, in the end it is in the character of the Director be at times unbearably grumpy, and almost always just… grumpy. So it was not at all a novelty in that sense.
Even when we had received the “tip off” that Latin America had disappeared and the material of the logistics, means, installation, infrastructure, we were disbelieving. And we were up at that wherehouse has not been completely emptied, giving the signal, the strength of certainty.
There we wanted to believe. It was too big!
Not long after, we would know of’Saudi Arabia.
Without knowing it, then, but as always, do not handle too much more than the days were living in, as always at the Dakar, very intense, we prepared a “goodbye” to the totally unexpected. And nothing strange if, unknowingly at the very last dive, we had planned one of our digressions, this time completely “off course”.
Another idea of Mr. Franco. The return trip in two Stages. Instead of the flight Lima-Milan, why not take a break half-way? Why not go and take a look somewhere along the road of return?
In Peru we met a lot of venezuelans, and the year before we had discovered a disturbing reality that became, day after day, dramatic. The news that we gathered along the Dakar and the fugitives from that wonderful Country and talk about themselves a framework is always more painful.
That’s why we had tickets to Caracas.
In the days of the Dakar, and the Venezuela he was living the dream of a change. They were days of great enthusiasm, even of large voltages. Exactly like the venezuelans, we illudevamo that would have been the crucial days, large demonstrations of the People, of the changes, and relaunch.
There was enough to last half an hour of Caracas to understand that these changes were dramatically urgent. We came down to see the City and make a visit to Vito Ippolito, the former president of the Federation of International Motorcycling, a venezuelan who grew up and formed in our Country. A dear person.
The meeting with the old friend of Mr. Franco, very beautiful. The City, the beautiful and tormented. People. Desperate. Yet incredibly dignified.
For us it was a few days in the “tunnel” hyper-protected hotel, armored car, entertainment districts and restaurants are “safe”, but on the streets was a completely different “atmosphere”. There was food, there were no prospects. Days of great hope in which, it was said, the President Maduro would be gone, pushed aside by the arrival of the New President Guaidò. There were no food, there was no money. People line up from dawn for a kilo of flour, a day of work in order to pay for a breakfast, the day is not sufficient due to inflation uncontrollable and abnormal.
A month of salary for a kilo of meat or cheese, a plate of eggs.
Asdrubal, the friend and handyman Vito, leads us to see a supermarket, a vacuum, a shopping center, empty. The exercises that work are few, and almost all the others are deserts. In the street it is better not to go, not in the center, in some other districts. It steals, it robs. Not for money, for jewelry or watches of prestige. You take it, even with violence, to hunger.
There sntiamo well, we make an effort, a painstaking effort to make, the endless to accept, even believe. The Venezuela. Golden beaches, endless oil reserves, the wealth in the “natural” beauty, the “boom”. It is not so. The people are poor, always poor. Escaping from their own Country. Millions of venezuelans crossing the border on foot, to reach Colombia, Peru, down to Argentina in search of fortune. Lucky to survive. Shoes destroyed, bare feet wrapped in rags.
We are uncomfortable, out of place, embarrassed. Very sad. We feel fortunate and helpless. A shudder of fear and one of hope. Is changing. Days are crucial and we have had the good fortune to participate in “live”, the streets in the midst of millions of protesters. It is the end of a nightmare collective.
The last night in Caracas, there is aneclipse of the moon amazing. Must be the sign of the reconquest of Venezuela.
Six months have passed. That dollar that was worth five days of salary, with which compravi a coca cola or a thousand liters of gasoline, one three-hundredth of the night in the hotel from one part and a week of survival on the other, in the district next door, continues to beat the rate ofinflation that starves the Country.
Maduro continues to have “the hours” banked”, Guaidò continues to knock on the home of the President, claiming the condo. Six months, one or the other from time to time.
Six months ago that the dollar was changed to 2,500 Bolivar of Venezuela. Today, take a look at the page dolartoday.com, arrived at 9.500. As I write continues to rise. Then a seventh down on the hope. False alarm. Hunger six months ago has multiplied almost four times. Only that hunger is not a race to the record, which is already an unbeatable limit.
With 50 Bolivar do not buy anything with 5 is full of gasoline. But there are sheets 5, and then you leave the 50 at the gas station. So, in a minute it is not worth anything.
Six months ago, leaving the South America with a lump in the throat. It is clear that we are not “excited” to know, some time after, that the Dakar had done the suitcases without saying goodbye to anyone.
In Venezuela the People counts for nothing, and after six months, it is clear that not count for nothing, not even the presidents, who clash in order to stay alone and meet to Barbados or Norway to negotiate. The strange balance holds at infinity, and in the meantime the real parts spolpano a Country now reduced to the bone. The people? The hunger? It does not matter!
Hold on Asdrubal. Can’t… last!
Dakar. 10 years of an unforgettable Journey in South America. 2009-2019
Year. Countries. Bike. Self. Truck
2009. Argentina-Chile. Coma, KTM. De Villiers, Volkswagen. Kabirov, KAmaz.
2010. Argentina-Chile. Despres, KTM. Sainz, Volkswagen. Chagin, Kamaz.
2011. Argentina-Chile. Coma, KTM. Al-Attiyah, Volkswagen. Chagin, Kamaz.
2012. Argentina-Chile-Peru. Despres, KTM. Peterhansel, Mini. De Rooy, IVECO.
2013. Peru-Argentina-Chile. Despres, KTM. Peterhansel, Mini. Nikolaev, Kamaz.
2014. Argentina-Bolivia-Chile. Coma, KTM. Rome, Mini. Karginov, Kamaz.
2015. Argentina-Bolivia-Chile. Coma, KTM. Al – Attiyah, Mini. Mardeev, Kamaz.
2016. Argentina-Bolivia. Price, KTM. Peterhansel Peugeot. De Rooy, IVECO.
2017. Paraguay-Bolivia-Argentina. Sunderland, KTM. Peterhansel Peugeot. Nikolaev, Kamaz.
2018. Peru-Bolivia-Argentina. Walkner, KTM. Sainz, Peugeot. Nikolaev, Kamaz.
2019. Peru. Price, KTM. Al-Attiyah, Toyota. Nikolaev, Kamaz.
2020. Saudi Arabia. …