Merida

Trip Start Jul 05, 2006
1
17
62
Trip End Sep 18, 2007


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Flag of Venezuela  ,
Thursday, September 21, 2006

Hi Folks,

Hope ye are all well?! I had a really nice if hectic time back home and it was great to catch up. So laundry done, cap and parchment collected, Sam Maguire back home - the show must go on!

First of all - a proud moment! A photo of mine has been selected as the feature photo of the day on the Travelpod website - beating off millions of competitors! (Well, maybe not millions but a lot) Its a photo of the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur by night.

We had a strange welcome to South America after a couple of relaxing days with my cousin in Madrid. As soon as the plane landed in Caracas, Venezuela everyone broke into a rapturous applause. It worried me a bit - are safe landings that uncommon here?!

We`re stuggling with Spanish but doing our best to learn as much and as soon as possible! Its odd but the language barrier in Asia is not such a barrier in comparison to our experience here so far. Lots of pointing writing and badly pronounced Spanish from our side. English isn`t commonly understood - which we expected anyway, it would be wrong to presume otherwise. It`ll get easier we`re hoping!

We were fortunate enough to sit beside a really nice and helpful gentleman on our flight from Madrid to Caracas. He spent the best part of 2 hours advising us what to see with the time we had and what to be wary of. It didn`t prepare us for stupidity though.

We had intended to get a bus from Caracas in the north to Merida in the south-east the day after arriving. Following our friends advise we went to the National Departures terminal to book a flight instead of messing around on the buses. So we met a nice girl at the Avior Airlines desk and explained we wanted a flight Merida the next morning. MER-EEEE-DA, MER-EEEE-DA, MER-EEE-DA, we even pointed to the name on a sheet of Avior destinations in front of her just to be sure we were understood. Si si no problemo!!

So, we arrived at the airport the morning of the flight to be told we were flying to Berinas because thats what it says on our ticket. Which is true! But it sounds nothing like the destination we asked for!! Had to hold tough with our pigeon Spanish and ignore being told that the flight we wanted was full anyway. Eventually we got our way which for awhile was very doubtful we would, but our persistance paid off. We had to pay the fare difference between the destinations but that wasn`t much. We started the day in plenty of time for the flight and now we were struggling to meet it so we legged it to the departures gate to be asked had we paid our departure tax in the tax office, so we had to take another detour to take care of that and eventually got on our plane. A small and cheerful 19 seater twin-prop (Beechcraft 1900) with 6 empty seats on takeoff, after being told the flight was full(?!). No such thing as a cockpit door, sure why would you want one in this day? The flight was spectacular with beautiful coastline and green mountain peaks. The landing approach was really interesting too. Merida is surrounded by the Andes mountains, so it was a bit like a fly flying into a cup and trying to land on the bottom. Definitately the most intestesting flight I`ve been on - although there was that one time when I was on a Ryanair flight into Kerry 'International' when we had to go around because lassie the sheepdog wouldn't get off the runway.

Anyway, here we are safe and sound in Merida and at the beginning of a new continent. It feels like we're starting all over again. What we learned in Asia doesn't apply here - and I'm sure its the other way around too. They say its a small world but its a very different world. Who knew Venezualans don't care about how many people there were in Tralee for the Kerry team home-coming on Monday night? I guess that's something they have in common with Malaysians and Thais.

Damian
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