Mérida, Venezuela

The Vertiginous Renovation of the World's Highest Cable Car

More "Danger"
Another safety warning near Pico Espejo
Ascension on hold
Employees wait inside a work cabin that serves the reconstruction of the cable car.
vertiginous journey
Worker climbs towards Pico Espejo in a temporary freight elevator.
The Patriot Cabin
The only definitive cabin, currently operating under the new system, decorated in the colors of the Venezuelan flag.
the big nothing
Cable car cables disappear in the clouds that invade the Sierra Nevada de Mérida
the wasteland
Typical meadow of the Venezuelan Andes (Páramo) and one of the lakes above Loma Redonda station
framed view
Mountain scenery beyond the Mérida Valley through a cafeteria window of the cable car works.
Jairo Alarcon
Jairo Alarcón, one of the muleteers of Los Nevados.
Muleiros Caravan
Muleiros approach Loma Redonda station from the village of Los Nevados.
on the way to the top
Worker disembarks from one of the freight elevators used in the renovation of the cable car
Espejo Nevado Peak
Peaks with some snow from Pico Espejo, at 4765 meters of altitude
steel towers
Tower structures for the new cable car
Road with Security
Worker rests next to a banner that warns of the importance of safety.
Danger, Danger, Danger
Workers work on a cable car platform
Work Trio
Workers work under a cable car pulley
frame work
Workers Build a Concrete Support Frame
Discarded cabins
The discarded cabins of the old Mérida cable car system.
Virgen de las Nieves
Visitor photographs the statue of the Virgen de Las Nieves, perched above the cliffs around Pico Espejo
view over the cliff
Climber watches the mist-covered precipice from a railing around the statue of the Virgin of Las Nieves.
Underway from 2010, the rebuilding of the Mérida cable car was carried out in the Sierra Nevada by intrepid workers who suffered firsthand the magnitude of the work.

We were in Merida for the second time.

In December 2004, the city welcomed hundreds of young travelers and expatriates. We were attracted to hiking and extreme activities in the unspoilt landscapes of the Sierra Nevada, at the northern end of the great South American mountain range which, in 1960, the construction of the local cable car system made it more popular and accessible than ever.

But, approaching 50 years of life, the record-breaking cable car system (12.6km in length from 1640m to 4765m in altitude) was reaching the end of its useful life.

Merida Cable Car, Renovation, Venezuela, Old Cabins

The discarded cabins of the old Mérida cable car system.

In 2008, the Austrian group Doppelmayr submitted a report to the Venezuelan Ministry of Tourism that recommended that no further repairs should be made. In August, the cable car service was terminated without a reopening deadline. With obvious damage to the economy of Mérida, used to the funds left there by outsiders.

Almost two years have passed. During this period, the reconstruction contract was handed over to Doppelmayr.

At the end of 2010, work began, which was still continuing in mid-October 2013, simultaneously with FITVEN 2013, the international fair that the Ministry of Tourism awarded to Mérida, with the main purpose of regaining notoriety for the region and to the new cable car.

Ascension to Pico Espejo aboard the Cable Car in Renovation

On one of several sunny mornings, we rose with the aim of contributing. We traveled from the city limits to calle 24 Rangel and Parque Las Heroínas. Due to the inactivity of the cable car and the unstable situation in Venezuela, we found it without a sign of the cosmopolitan and frenetic life that we knew it.

A delegation of people responsible for the work, for project communication and for Civil Protection welcomes us. We await overlooking the steep valley where the Chama River flows and the imposing slope of the Sierra Nevada de Mérida.

Merida Cable Car, Renovation, Venezuela, view from the cafeteria

Mountain scenery beyond the Mérida Valley through a cafeteria window of the cable car works.

Both the welcome and the informational and safety briefings are exhaustive. Once the proformas have been overcome, the group is divided, equipped with helmets and led to the dock where the freight elevators used in the construction work.

We noticed that José Gregório Martínez, the president of the Venezuelan Teleféricos company, walks with his arm to his chest. We tried not to see a foreshadowing in its plaster, and we climbed aboard the first iron box that comes in there. With the chains that separate the 16 passengers from the abyss in place, we are left to our destination.

Merida Cable Car, Renovation, Venezuela, Cabin

The only definitive cabin, currently operating under the new system, decorated in the colors of the Venezuelan flag.

The hoist rises with a screeching noise. First, on the sprawling houses on the banks of the Chama River. Then, over the lush vegetation at the foot of the mountains. Advancement is not continuous. At spaces, the cabin stops and leaves us apprehensive and silent. “We had a hole”, doesn't resist shooting Julio Debali, a Uruguayan in a permanent humorous mode.

The laughter is followed by silence again. Jayme Bautista, the most tireless of host communicators, feels the shared discomfort. Ask another employee to explain why the immobilization is so suspected.

Merida Cable Car, Renovation, Venezuela, sealed work

Workers work on a cable car platform

This one, gives himself to a verbose rehearsal inspired by the insipid fluency of superiors and responsibles who had become accustomed to listening: “Very good, I comment on the following: the detail is that the tower we just passed, there N, has cables in a negative position, in a way as they are, there is a force to the cliff and that it balances with the tower. That's why there is a need to pass space, because it can't be derailed. "

The group understands little or nothing. Indifferent, Júlio Debali took the opportunity to add another of his always welcome surgical jokes. "OK. But does it have a parachute?”

The scare passes. It didn't take long for us to leave for the first station.

Merida Cable Car, Renovation, Venezuela, concrete frame

Workers Build a Concrete Support Frame

On Foot, Up Mountain, Towards Loma Redonda of Sierra Nevada

Once landed, we won pedestrian sections. We crossed different construction sites and came across workers frightened by the unexpected invasion. Until we arrived at the old station of Loma Redonda. From there, we tried to locate the Bolivar Peak (4981m), the ceiling of Venezuela.

Merida Cable Car, Renovation, Venezuela, Pico Espejo

Peaks with some snow from Pico Espejo, at 4765 meters of altitude

The tops of the Sierra Nevada are lightly snowed and on the verge of disappearing into the clouds that lurk behind. We walk among countless frailejones (Espeletia pycnophylla), overlooking the Los Anteojos lagoons, so called because of the similarity with a pair of glasses.

Merida Cable Car, Renovation, Venezuela, Páramo

Typical meadow of the Venezuelan Andes (Páramo) and one of the lakes above Loma Redonda station

In three different freight elevators, in a matter of ten minutes, we had climbed from 1600 meters from Mérida to over 4000. In addition to being icy, the air was thin to match. The ascent to the wild heights of Pico Espejo was still missing.

This last stretch was the only one carried out in a closed hoist, also made of pine cones. It proved far more extreme than the previous ones.

Merida Cable Car, Renovation, Venezuela, forklifts

Worker climbs towards Pico Espejo in a temporary freight elevator.

Mountain Evil Like the Virgin of Las Nieves Saves the Group

We disembarked onto a muddy and snowy trail. We advance, in a lunar rhythm, to the viewpoint blessed by the statue of the Virgen de Las Nieves, the patron saint of climbers. From there, down, enveloped in a swift mist, we do not even perceive the abyss, only the immediate rocks that herald it.

Mérida Cable Car, Renovation, Venezuela, Mountaineer in viewpoints

Climber watches the mist-covered precipice from a railing around the statue of the Virgin of Las Nieves.

On our breathless and dizzy return to the freight elevator, Henry Toro, an indigenous-looking guide, himself a former mountaineer, introduces us to Jesus López.

He praises this figure of the cable car renovation and other mountain projects that he particularly admired, among all the workers: “The people know him as Yeti, look, such is the time this man spends up here.”

From a nearby balcony, we can see what is considered the highest square in Venezuela. And the statue of the supreme commander Francisco de Miranda, one of the great liberators and historical heroes of Venezuelans, along with his almost-divine successor Simon Bolivar.

We had been at 4765 meters for almost half an hour, devoid of a decent previous acclimatization. As the Civil Protection predicted, some of the visitors were already resentful. The return on the freight elevator had, therefore, to be abbreviated. Back at Loma Redonda, the troubled brains had to be oxygenated.

Merida Cable Car, Renovation, Venezuela

Cable car cables disappear in the clouds that invade the Sierra Nevada de Mérida

Loma Redonda was the station from which, in 2004, we had started the trek down the mountain towards Los Nevadas.

The Abbreviated Return to Merida Security

On this occasion, a small battalion of mule owners inhabiting the people around it rented its animals and services to passengers who had just arrived from Mérida. When we disembarked, we realized that the Venezuelan Ministry of Tourism had given them back this mission so that they could transport the visiting party.

Merida Cable Car, Renovation, Venezuela, mules

Muleiros approach Loma Redonda station from the village of Los Nevados.

We traveled by mule only the initial part of the trail that led to the town still distant.

Enough for us to remember the rest of the way and convince Jairo Alarcón – one of the most accurately dressed and most photogenic natives – to star in a short photo shoot.

Merida Cable Car, Renovation, Venezuela, mule Jairo Alarcon

Jairo Alarcón, one of the muleteers of Los Nevados.

The afternoon is already halfway through. We disassembled. Shortly after, we start the descent. We interrupt it for a late lunch in the workers' dining room, installed in the third station.

After the meal, we listened to a long presentation about the cable car and settled down to watch a movie being shown.

Henry Toro tells us that many of the workers had wept with emotion when they watched “En lo Más Alto” ​​for the first time.

Merida Cable Car, Renovation, Venezuela

Another safety warning near Pico Espejo

In a few minutes, we felt how the documentary, epic and nationalist, raised the meaning of its contributions.

At issue was the longest and highest cable car in the World that the ever-troubled Venezuela was determined to remake.

Annapurna Circuit: 2th - Chame a Upper BananaNepal

(I) Eminent Annapurnas

We woke up in Chame, still below 3000m. There we saw, for the first time, the snowy and highest peaks of the Himalayas. From there, we set off for another walk along the Annapurna Circuit through the foothills and slopes of the great mountain range. towards Upper Banana.
Annapurna Circuit: 1th - Pokhara a ChameNepal

Finally, on the way

After several days of preparation in Pokhara, we left towards the Himalayas. The walking route only starts in Chame, at 2670 meters of altitude, with the snowy peaks of the Annapurna mountain range already in sight. Until then, we complete a painful but necessary road preamble to its subtropical base.
Alaverdi, Armenia

A Cable Car Called Ensejo

The top of the Debed River Gorge hides the Armenian monasteries of Sanahin and Haghpat and terraced Soviet apartment blocks. Its bottom houses the copper mine and smelter that sustains the city. Connecting these two worlds is a providential suspended cabin in which the people of Alaverdi count on traveling in the company of God.
Pueblos del Sur, Venezuela

The Pueblos del Sur Locainas, Their Dances and Co.

From the beginning of the XNUMXth century, with Hispanic settlers and, more recently, with Portuguese emigrants, customs and traditions well known in the Iberian Peninsula and, in particular, in northern Portugal, were consolidated in the Pueblos del Sur.

Gran Sabana, Venezuela

A Real Jurassic Park

Only the lonely EN-10 road ventures into Venezuela's wild southern tip. From there, we unveil otherworldly scenarios, such as the savanna full of dinosaurs in the Spielberg saga.

Altitude Sickness: the Grievances of Getting Mountain Sick

When traveling, it happens that we find ourselves confronted with the lack of time to explore a place as unmissable as it is high. Medicine and previous experiences with Altitude Evil dictate that we should not risk ascending in a hurry.
Pueblos del Sur, Venezuela

Behind the Venezuela Andes. Fiesta Time.

In 1619, the authorities of Mérida dictated the settlement of the surrounding territory. The order resulted in 19 remote villages that we found dedicated to commemorations with caretos and local pauliteiros.
Mount Roraima, Venezuela

Time Travel to the Lost World of Mount Roraima

At the top of Mount Roraima, there are extraterrestrial scenarios that have resisted millions of years of erosion. Conan Doyle created, in "The Lost World", a fiction inspired by the place but never got to step on it.
Mérida, Venezuela

Merida to Los Nevados: in the Andean Ends of Venezuela

In the 40s and 50s, Venezuela attracted 400 Portuguese but only half stayed in Caracas. In Mérida, we find places more similar to the origins and the eccentric ice cream parlor of an immigrant portista.
PN Canaima, Venezuela

Kerepakupai, Salto Angel: The River that Falls from Heaven

In 1937, Jimmy Angel landed a light aircraft on a plateau lost in the Venezuelan jungle. The American adventurer did not find gold but he conquered the baptism of the longest waterfall on the face of the Earth
Mérida, Mexico

The Most Exuberant of Meridas

In 25 BC, the Romans founded Emerita Augusta, capital of Lusitania. The Spanish expansion generated three other Méridas in the world. Of the four, the Yucatan capital is the most colorful and lively, resplendent with Hispanic colonial heritage and multi-ethnic life.
Henri Pittier NP, Venezuela

PN Henri Pittier: between the Caribbean Sea and the Cordillera da Costa

In 1917, botanist Henri Pittier became fond of the jungle of Venezuela's sea mountains. Visitors to the national park that this Swiss created there are, today, more than they ever wanted
Margarita Island ao Mochima NP, Venezuela

Margarita Island to Mochima National Park: a very Caribbean Caribe

The exploration of the Venezuelan coast justifies a wild nautical party. But, these stops also reveal life in cactus forests and waters as green as the tropical jungle of Mochima.
Lion, Elephants, PN Hwange, Zimbabwe
PN Hwange, Zimbabwe

The Legacy of the Late Cecil Lion

On July 1, 2015, Walter Palmer, a dentist and trophy hunter from Minnesota killed Cecil, Zimbabwe's most famous lion. The slaughter generated a viral wave of outrage. As we saw in PN Hwange, nearly two years later, Cecil's descendants thrive.
Braga or Braka or Brakra in Nepal
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit: 6th – Braga, Nepal

The Ancient Nepal of Braga

Four days of walking later, we slept at 3.519 meters from Braga (Braka). Upon arrival, only the name is familiar to us. Faced with the mystical charm of the town, arranged around one of the oldest and most revered Buddhist monasteries on the Annapurna circuit, we continued our journey there. acclimatization with ascent to Ice Lake (4620m).
Itamaraty Palace Staircase, Brasilia, Utopia, Brazil
Architecture & Design
Brasilia, Brazil

Brasília: from Utopia to the Capital and Political Arena of Brazil

Since the days of the Marquis of Pombal, there has been talk of transferring the capital to the interior. Today, the chimera city continues to look surreal but dictates the rules of Brazilian development.
Boats on ice, Hailuoto Island, Finland.
Hailuoto, Finland

A Refuge in the Gulf of Bothnia

During winter, the island of Hailuoto is connected to the rest of Finland by the country's longest ice road. Most of its 986 inhabitants esteem, above all, the distance that the island grants them.
Native Americans Parade, Pow Pow, Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States
Ceremonies and Festivities
Albuquerque, USA

When the Drums Sound, the Indians Resist

With more than 500 tribes present, the pow wow "Gathering of the Nations" celebrates the sacred remnants of Native American cultures. But it also reveals the damage inflicted by colonizing civilization.
Christmas scene, Shillong, Meghalaya, India
Shillong, India

A Christmas Selfiestan at an India Christian Stronghold

December arrives. With a largely Christian population, the state of Meghalaya synchronizes its Nativity with that of the West and clashes with the overcrowded Hindu and Muslim subcontinent. Shillong, the capital, shines with faith, happiness, jingle bells and bright lighting. To dazzle Indian holidaymakers from other parts and creeds.
Beverage Machines, Japan

The Beverage Machines Empire

There are more than 5 million ultra-tech light boxes spread across the country and many more exuberant cans and bottles of appealing drinks. The Japanese have long since stopped resisting them.
Women with long hair from Huang Luo, Guangxi, China
Longsheng, China

Huang Luo: the Chinese Village of the Longest Hairs

In a multi-ethnic region covered with terraced rice paddies, the women of Huang Luo have surrendered to the same hairy obsession. They let the longest hair in the world grow, years on end, to an average length of 170 to 200 cm. Oddly enough, to keep them beautiful and shiny, they only use water and rice.
4th of July Fireworks-Seward, Alaska, United States
Seward, Alaska

The Longest 4th of July

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Erika Mother

The Philippine Road Lords

With the end of World War II, the Filipinos transformed thousands of abandoned American jeeps and created the national transportation system. Today, the exuberant jeepneys are for the curves.
Vanuatu, Cruise in Wala
Wala, Vanuatu

Cruise ship in Sight, the Fair Settles In

In much of Vanuatu, the days of the population's “good savages” are behind us. In times misunderstood and neglected, money gained value. And when the big ships with tourists arrive off Malekuka, the natives focus on Wala and billing.
Portfolio, Got2Globe, Best Images, Photography, Images, Cleopatra, Dioscorides, Delos, Greece
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Got2Globe Portfolio

The Earthly and the Celestial

Earp brothers look-alikes and friend Doc Holliday in Tombstone, USA
tombstone, USA

Tombstone: the City Too Hard to Die

Silver veins discovered at the end of the XNUMXth century made Tombstone a prosperous and conflictive mining center on the frontier of the United States to Mexico. Lawrence Kasdan, Kurt Russell, Kevin Costner and other Hollywood directors and actors made famous the Earp brothers and the bloodthirsty duel of “OK Corral”. The Tombstone, which, over time, has claimed so many lives, is about to last.
Principe Island, São Tomé and Principe
Príncipe, São Tomé and Principe

Journey to the Noble Retreat of Príncipe Island

150 km of solitude north of the matriarch São Tomé, the island of Príncipe rises from the deep Atlantic against an abrupt and volcanic mountain-covered jungle setting. Long enclosed in its sweeping tropical nature and a contained but moving Luso-colonial past, this small African island still houses more stories to tell than visitors to listen to.
Maksim, Sami people, Inari, Finland-2
Winter White
Inari, Finland

The Guardians of Boreal Europe

Long discriminated against by Scandinavian, Finnish and Russian settlers, the Sami people regain their autonomy and pride themselves on their nationality.
Couple visiting Mikhaylovskoe, village where writer Alexander Pushkin had a home
Saint Petersburg e Mikhaylovkoe, Russia

The Writer Who Succumbed to His Own Plot

Alexander Pushkin is hailed by many as the greatest Russian poet and the founder of modern Russian literature. But Pushkin also dictated an almost tragicomic epilogue to his prolific life.
Cathedral, Funchal, Madeira
Funchal, Madeira

Portal to a Nearly Tropical Portugal

Madeira is located less than 1000km north of the Tropic of Cancer. And the luxuriant exuberance that earned it the nickname of the garden island of the Atlantic can be seen in every corner of its steep capital.
Sheki, Autumn in the Caucasus, Azerbaijan, Autumn Homes
Sheki, Azerbaijan

autumn in the caucasus

Lost among the snowy mountains that separate Europe from Asia, Sheki is one of Azerbaijan's most iconic towns. Its largely silky history includes periods of great harshness. When we visited it, autumn pastels added color to a peculiar post-Soviet and Muslim life.
Herd in Manang, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
Natural Parks
Annapurna Circuit: 8th Manang, Nepal

Manang: the Last Acclimatization in Civilization

Six days after leaving Besisahar we finally arrived in Manang (3519m). Located at the foot of the Annapurna III and Gangapurna Mountains, Manang is the civilization that pampers and prepares hikers for the ever-dreaded crossing of Thorong La Gorge (5416 m).
Cambodia, Angkor, Ta Phrom
UNESCO World Heritage
Ho Chi Minh a of Angkor, Cambodia

The Crooked Path to Angkor

From Vietnam onwards, Cambodia's crumbling roads and minefields take us back to the years of Khmer Rouge terror. We survive and are rewarded with the vision of the greatest religious temple
Look-alikes, Actors and Extras

Make-believe stars

They are the protagonists of events or are street entrepreneurs. They embody unavoidable characters, represent social classes or epochs. Even miles from Hollywood, without them, the world would be more dull.
Lifou, Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia, Mme Moline popinée
LifouLoyalty Islands

The Greatest of the Loyalties

Lifou is the island in the middle of the three that make up the semi-francophone archipelago off New Caledonia. In time, the Kanak natives will decide if they want their paradise independent of the distant metropolis.
Aurora lights up the Pisang Valley, Nepal.
Annapurna Circuit: 3rd- Upper Banana, Nepal

An Unexpected Snowy Aurora

At the first glimmers of light, the sight of the white mantle that had covered the village during the night dazzles us. With one of the toughest walks on the Annapurna Circuit ahead of us, we postponed the match as much as possible. Annoyed, we left Upper Pisang towards Escort when the last snow faded.
The Toy Train story
On Rails
Siliguri a Darjeeling, India

The Himalayan Toy Train Still Running

Neither the steep slope of some stretches nor the modernity stop it. From Siliguri, in the tropical foothills of the great Asian mountain range, the Darjeeling, with its peaks in sight, the most famous of the Indian Toy Trains has ensured for 117 years, day after day, an arduous dream journey. Traveling through the area, we climb aboard and let ourselves be enchanted.
A kind of portal
Little Havana, USA

Little Havana of the Nonconformists

Over the decades and until today, thousands of Cubans have crossed the Florida Straits in search of the land of freedom and opportunity. With the US a mere 145 km away, many have gone no further. His Little Havana in Miami is today the most emblematic neighborhood of the Cuban diaspora.
Daily life
Arduous Professions

the bread the devil kneaded

Work is essential to most lives. But, certain jobs impose a degree of effort, monotony or danger that only a few chosen ones can measure up to.
Serengeti, Great Savannah Migration, Tanzania, wildebeest on river
Serengeti NP, Tanzania

The Great Migration of the Endless Savanna

In these prairies that the Masai people say syringet (run forever), millions of wildebeests and other herbivores chase the rains. For predators, their arrival and that of the monsoon are the same salvation.
Napali Coast and Waimea Canyon, Kauai, Hawaii Wrinkles
Scenic Flights
napali coast, Hawaii

Hawaii's Dazzling Wrinkles

Kauai is the greenest and rainiest island in the Hawaiian archipelago. It is also the oldest. As we explore its Napalo Coast by land, sea and air, we are amazed to see how the passage of millennia has only favored it.