Tue 30/04-2013 Day 469

A HUGE tyre from one of the coal trucks used in the mines in the mountains - each truck needs six of them, and here are stored probably 2000 new ones - each tyre costs about 49.000 US $...


Pos: here
Loc: before Cabo de la Vela
Acc: house in mining company Cerrejón

Today I got the full mining sightseeing program from Eliécer. First I got dressed with helmet, safety boots and – glasses and a reflective vest. After an introductory video (fortunately in English), we did a drive around the loading and harbour area, and he was explaining the coal loading process to me. It was actually very impressive and interesting! I also got introduced in the various offices to the different functions, and surely had to sign many cards.

Eliécer Àvila Carrillo, public relations manager of the mining company Cerrejon and my host and guide the last days. Thanks!


He also drove me outside of the fenced area to the school of the indigenous people, which was a large area with many traditional clay built and cactus-roofed small classroom houses, plus some larger buildings. The school is supported by the mining company Cerrejon, in cooperation with the government. A big incentive for the kids to visit the school regularly is that they are getting two meals per day – breakfast and lunch. All houses are open, shady and airy, but with no air condition or ventilator. The homes of those kids don’t have that either. But they do get introduced into computer work and have internet. Modern times meet traditional living! But Eliécer told me that some of the Indian villages refused to get electricity in the last years – modern times are not always welcome.

One class room in the Indian school with the smaller kids


One of the small class room houses of the Indian school - built traditional with walls of clay and a roof of dried cactus stripes


A real growing cactus fence in the Indian village


We also picked my kayak from the police station and dropped it at the coast guard station where we can load it manually on the boat on Thursday. I heard the rumour that last Saturday night when I couldn’t start paddling, the guys didn’t had to “rescue a fisherman”, but were rather involved in a very successful big drug interception – congratulations! They have to do of course have their job to do…

The coal train unloading station on the conveyor belt downstairs - each waggon holds 120 tons of coal, about 120 waggons go per train, and nine trains per day are coming to the harbor...


The coal comes from the conveyor belt unloaded from the train waggons and is stored in the harbor area briefly before it is getting loaded to the ships


After lunch, I was invited to jump on one of two tug boats which have to pull a freshly loaded huge ship off the pier and out of the bay. Guido, the captain, was showing me the boat, and explained the process to me. I was surprised that the two relatively small tug boats are actually able to pull such a huge heavily loaded ship off the pier! The rope used for that was almost as thick as my leg! Once off the pier, the ship was at some point able to start it’s own engines, and the pilot was climbing over board back on the tug boat, while driving parallel together. Quite an acrobatic act!

Guido, the tug boat captain to the left, maneuvering his boat to the ship to be towed


The tow of the huge ship - dimensions are not easy to judge...


One of the huge ships waiting to be loaded with coal


A swim in the large local pool was finalising my eventful and educative day. Thanks to Eliécer and his crew to give me a great insight of the life here in Puerto Bolivar!

One more day to rest tomorrow on Wednesday, then I can *paddle* again! Six days off is the longest period I had off on this trip – and it is wayyyyyyyyyy too long…but what were my options??? At least I got nice people looking after me here!

2 comments on “Tue 30/04-2013 Day 469

Randall Lackey

Thanks much for sharing it all with us.I begin Satarday on my final about 300 miles of finishing the Alabama Scenic River Trail, here in Alabama,U.S.A,to complete the entire ASRT of 631 miles.My biggest ever undertaking,but not the last.I’ll be away for two weeks and missing keeping up on your blog, but by then you’ll be back enjoying your rest time at home,well deserved. so I’ll catch up before your return and anxiously await your return in August. enjoy your time off.Safe Paddling.Randall


Sounds educational and eye opening. Hope you took some photos of the indigenous people and their traditional ways meeting the modern ways.

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