People asked me why I was going riding in Venezuela, of all places. The answer is really pretty simple. A friend there offered to loan me a bike and show me around. Plus, I had enough air mileage points to get a free ticket to Caracas. Venezuela is not a very expensive country for lodging and food prices there are fairly reasonable. But the price of gasoline in Venezuela right now is the lowest anywhere in the world. Leaving the social and political ramifications of artificially low gas prices for another time and place, suffice to say that gasoline in Venezuela is, essentially, free. Here is a photo of the front of the gas pump from when we were filling up the bikes one time... Realizing that for most folks, Venzuelan Bolivares for liters of gasoline does not easily convert to US$/gallon, here is some assistance. 28 liters is roughly 7.4 US gallons, enough to fill two motorcycle gas tanks (KTM 950 and F650 Funduro) that had not run onto reserve, yet. Converting the BsF to dollars is a bit trickier. Bs means Bolivares. Actually, the pump reads in Bolivares Fuerte (BsF). They revalued the currency by lopping off three zeros to get rid of (the appearance) of inflation. When changing dollars, you can get the official rate of 2.15 BsF/US$ from a bank or on your credit card, or you can change money pretty much anywhere with anyone for the "real" exhange rate listed here: http://venezuelafx.blogspot.com/. I got 6.4 BsF per US$ when I exchanged money on August 19th. This means that at the OFFICIAL rate, the 7.4 gallons of gas purchased in the photo cost US$ 1.26. That price is NOT per-gallon. That price is for the entire seven and a half gallon purchase. However, I didn't pay the official rate, I paid, hold onto your helmet, forty-two and a half cents for those seven point four gallons. That, dear friends, works out to less than six cents per gallon. Bottled water cost about US$0.50 for a 1.5 liter bottle, roughly the same price as seven and a half gallons of fuel. Suffice to say that we spent a LOT more for water on the trip that we did for fuel. (http://money.cnn.com/pf/features/lists/global_gasprices/). Toward the end of our first day of riding, we stopped in a town for a break and to fill up. But the only gas station was closed. As you might imagine, they have not built many gas stations lately because, frankly, even at 100% profit margin, there isn't much profit to be had. The station was closed for some sort of fiesta. The issue was that the town where we planned to spend the night was 50 km away and had NO gas station. The next town with fuel was another 50 km past there. We probably did not have enough to make it that far. Figuring that we would likely find SOME solution, we went for it. When we checked into the posada (sort of like a bed and breakfast, only with dinner instead, usually), we asked about finding some gasoline. The gal that handled our check-in told us to speak to the owner later. We unloaded and cooled down and obtained a few beers. We shot the shit with the owner for a while and mentioned our need for fuel. He told us to ask "the boys" in the morning, for the ten liter can of gas, and be sure to tip them. When we were settling the bill, we asked about the cost of the fuel. The owner said, "Sure, like I would CHARGE you for GASOLINE. You bought beer, the gasoline is free." Our ride took us along the coast, across the plains, over twisty roads through some gorgeous national parks and high up into the Andes. I walked behind this waterfall... Angel Falls is the highest waterfall in the world, over 1km (> 0.625 miles) vertical drop. Fresh conch. You could throw a rock into the sea from this woman's stall. Yummy! BACON! More photos and write-up will follow as I get closer to digging out from under the pile of stuff-to-do that stacks up from being gone.