After crossing long bridge just outside Maracaibo the bus continues for less than 2 hours before mechanical problems end its journey and we (there are only 6-8 passengers) transfer to another bus waiting for us. This one sounds even worse than the one we just left but runs just fine for the distance. We are still in lowland, dry country until about 3:30pm when we begin climbing and getting into very green, lush highlands, lots of banana trees and ranchland, cattle and cows but little else in the way of ag. More tall trees perhaps like used to be here before clearing took place...lower down in dry area, only scrubby, short trees...and standing water as tho just rained.
All along the way the towns look a lot like W. Africa, run down, tons of trash/plastic litter ie bottles, bags, etc. along the road. Yet we see many big billboards with Chavez' face promoting/proclaiming the Socialist Revolution. This is the celebration of the 200th anniversary of S. Bolivar's historic revolution which began in 1811 and ended in 1821 with the independence of Venezuela, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, and Ecuador (the beginning of his dream for a United States of Latin America). The signs and billboards are actually everywhere thruout Venezuela wherever there are projects or projected planned projects as well as many times just propaganda purposes.
We pass over many streams which are very reddish brown from silt due to runoff from recent rains. As it gets darker I see lots more fincas and even haciendas - large ranches. I see when we get to Merida written in red on a wall 'Nationalize the land now!' Hmmm.
We arr in El Vigia at 9pm and due to communications gap (a euphamism for a tif betw us) we sit in the bus station for half an hour, and then I arrange taxi to take us to an hourly hotel, Hotel San Felipe, which cost us 100b for 12 hours and 15b to get there and back to terminal in the morn. Bon is a bit miffed because I do get a bit antsy when it is dark and we arr in unfamiliar towns, thus the taxi instead of walking around looking for places to stay.