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Wednesday, November 6, 2002
Every Day Brings a New Adventure in Venezuela

Perhaps Curt liked the idea of having other people around to diffuse, or maybe even deflect, the tension, but I think we were both interested in hearing impartial parties' thoughts. We invited Viva to breakfast at Jak's to get their thoughts and tap into their experience, having cruised Venezuela for so many years past.

It was obvious why we've become such good friends. They were sincere in their efforts to join our brainstorm of ideas, offering their help and experience wherever they could. They even went so far as to suggest that we leave Force Five here in a marina while waiting for parts, and we join them on Viva and sail to Porta La Cruz so we could still have time to see the mainland. As we were discussing the options, we were interrupted by Don, and once again the events of the day were set in motion before we had time to mentally prepare.

Don had "his guys" there, and was ready with a dive tank. Since I was going to town with Viva in search of Boulivars (the local currency) we had arranged for them to pick me up back at Force Five. While I waited, I was privy to a snapshot of what would be happening on the boat while I was gone. Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee were back in action below, and two of the Venezuelan teenagers from the bar were in the cockpit (for what purpose, I don't know). Curt was strapping the dive tank on from the back of the boat, and I was in the middle of this all, trying not to think.

Things seemed to be getting back together surprisingly fast. Curt would dive below for some time, and come up to consult for some time. When they were able, Curt was rotating the shaft from below, and the Tweedles were trying to assess just how bent it might be, and it didn't appear to be much. During one of the deliberations while Curt surfaced from below, the idea that perhaps the problem could be engine mounts- not the shaft at all- arose. And as fast as the work had begun, it seemed the plan had once again changed. Yes- they decided to replace the engine mounts and then revisit the shaft. "No problem," Don said. "No worry at all." He can have the parts flown in from his "buddy" in Florida. Oy, I thought. Not another one of those "buddies" boat guys are always talking about. But alas- Viva arrived to whisk me away about this time, and so I left Curt with Force Five, and I went with Viva in search of Boulivars in the main town of Porlamar.

From here the story diverges into an adventure of the search for money. I walked the streets of Porlamar with Pam and Steve the entire afternoon, trying every ATM machine and bank we crossed paths with for cash. After perhaps ten attempts throughout the day, I am no wiser than the moment we arrived. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to those machines that spew money, and that those do not. To even confuse things further, when I did find a cash machine that worked, it gave me an aribitratry amount of money after I'd punched in a specific amount. It took three transactions to get just enough for us to get by. The next time, we brought our passports, all our cards, and went to the tellers inside. Still we found that seemingly without reason, some would offer us money, and some would not.

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