When things don´t quite go to plan!
Trip Start Dec 30, 2010
84Trip End Jul 06, 2011
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Once we are on our way, a lady who is sat next to me starts a conversation. She is a little nervous as she gets sea sick. I tell her I'm from an Island and am used to frequent boat journeys. She is on her way to see her doctor in Caracas and has brought either her nephew or a young friend of the family, it's his first time abroad and understandably he is very excited. Good for him! I'm struggling to hear everything she is saying but after a while I ask her 'Does the bus from the dock to Caracas take long?' she replies 'Oh only 16 hours'.......hang on, did I hear that right? No, she must have meant 16 minutes. Just to make sure I'll check the guide. Yes, she was right, we are infact docking in a place called Guiria, and not Caracas. In planning this journey, I had penciled in a flight from Trinidad to Caracas, I guess I never told myself that I wasn't taking that flight and just assumed the boat would go around 200mph for 2.5 hours. I chuckle to myself and all I can do is wait till I get to this dock and check out the situation. The dock is so small there is nothing written about it in the lonely planet. D'oh!
I spend the rest of the boat journey asleep. It's my defense mechanism for long journeys and well, always good to get rest whenever I can. When I wake I explain to the lady I spoke to earlier my problem, she tells me that I don't look worried and act very confident. I reply to her that what's the worst that can happen? Sometimes these little mistakes can end up making the adventure fun. Well, we'll see!
We dock and are told that the army guys outside won't let us off till they've eaten their lunch. Utter pigs, I'm watching them talking and not eating. Such bulls**t! I have power and you don't. We were made to wait an hour! Anyway, some ladies board the boat and I need to show proof of a yellow fevor vaccination, then 30 mins later I get my entry stamp, they didn't ask one question about how I was leaving?? When we do leave the boat, the two army guys check your luggage, well until it absolutely chucked it down. They were working under a small tent with plastic chairs. After 5 minutes, they had enough, only checked maybe 10 passengers, got in their car and drove off! The rain was heavy, a cute little woman was wearing all white, ie little shorts and a tiny little white top, I think she was regretting that. Taxis were coming by and taking people away. I stood for ten minutes, changed some dollars for bolivianos. Now here is the issue in Venezuela. The official rate is 2.15 to $1 so if you go to an ATM or use your credit card, you're stuffed. The lady who changed my money gave me 8 to $1! The annoying thing is, everything is priced on the black market rate, so if you didn't know that, you will pay $10 for a bottle of water, $15 for a bag of chips/crisps! Crazy. I was so lucky that the lady from the guesthouse in Trinidad sold me $200 worth, as I was struggling big time to try find some dollars. Luckily she had some or my trip would be ending soon!
Ok, be brave.......jumped into a taxi, I'm soaked again! I wait a while and another 3 people get in. A lady with her daughter and some dude. We are driven to a nearby town where we leave this taxi and I'm almost forced into another one. I'm hesitant, the lady explains that they are going to Carupano, I ask her to point it out on my map. She is quite difficult to understand as she is talking in broken English, when I mean broken, it is broken between Spanish and giggling! I have two days to get to Ciudad Bolivar and need to head south west, great, Carupano is west. I'll get there and figure out something else. So, the lady and her daughter sit in the back with the dude. Another guy gets onto our journey so I was in the front passenger seat but now I'm sat where the hand brake would be in a manual car. So, this daughter in the back seat, she is the size of Dakota Fanning in Man on Fire or Max in Where the Wild things are. She is super small, small enough to probably not be uncomfortable sat in the middle between the driver and passenger from St Vincents. So the passenger from St Vincents was getting a little wet so was leaning into me and the driver, kept tapping my knee when it leant on the steering wheel..........I was stuck! To make it worse I had to hold his school books and my small rucksack. So, go home, sit on the edge of your couch, for 3 hours and don't move a muscle, that is how it was. I have to laugh though, without this ride, I would miss out on the Angel Falls.
En route to this random place called Carupano, we pass through empty towns, towns where there is one street, every window and door is closed or boarded up, ghost towns almost. Like Suriname, we are stopping every so many metres for sleeping policeman this time, not pot holes, but it only took three hours. Of course everyone had a comfy ride, well not the ginger gringo. My poor ass!
We get to Carupano. The lady, inbetween giggling, tells me to try get a bus to Maturin and sleep there tonight. So, I walk around this old and dirty looking bus station walking past all the huts that sell bus tickets. No-one had a bus to Maturin till tomorrow. I didn't panic. I just got out my book and looked at where there was a place in my book that was recommended and someone was selling tickets. After another ten minutes, I manage to book a bus for Camana and the bus had just arrived, perfect. I jump on and it's only two hours to Camana.
What a day! Of course it wasn't a two hour ride, and there is always that little paranoia when you're on a bus and you have no idea when you enter a city whether it's the one you should stop at or not. I just normally ask someone.
Finally we make it to Camana and check my book for a hostel and after booking an ongoing bus to Ciudad Boliva I jump into a taxi and we head for hotel astoria. Get there, negotiate a price on a room and luckily they have a pizza restaurant within the hotel. Perfect! I eat a small?? pepperoni pizza, couple of beers and laugh to myself about the day I've had.
I go to bed watching Click, although I prefer the beginning and not the 2nd half so fall asleep and have a good night sleep.
Miles walked 0.6
Day 73 March 17th - My bus is at 730am so I wake early, no need to pack as I didn't unpack and I hail a taxi and head to the bus station. Before I hailed a taxi I got a small glimpse of the cathedral.
At the bus station, I pick out a local food thing, some meaty thing in pastry, some drinks and sit on the bus, hoping for 6 hours of relaxation. One thing I notice about Venezuela, is the old Chevy cars. They are everywhere, and the car that got me Carupano was a Chevy too. I take a few pictures for my pops and Gaz back home.
Bus leaves ontime, next stop, Ciudad Bolivar and I'm ever so close now to the Angel Falls.