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Kingdom of Heaven

Sunday, 30 June 2013 14:05

Venezuela Pt. 1 Featured

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Last days in Bogota... We had a lot of goodbye parties, dinners and lunches. I had to say goodbye to a lot of new friends. It's always hard to say goodbye! Getting to know people for 4 months and then letting them go... Sometimes you think that it would be better that you would have never met them in the first place, but you would miss so much not meeting them, not knowing them, It's a privilege to have the chance and meet new people and make new friends. Some enter your life for a reason, some for a season and some for a lifetime! And from each and every one of them you can learn a ton of stuff!  

With my good friend Anisa, we lived together in Bogota with another girl from Brazil - Milena, we decided to go traveling to Venezuela :) The first stop there would be to visit another friend Carla that I had studied with in Bogota and since we didn't plan and we have no money to spend on expensive plane tickets we have to do the whole trip by bus! So first we have to get to Caracas and since she lives in Colonia Tovar we have take some more busses to finally reach her.

Started the day (21st of May 2013) with finishing the motivational video and applying for a job at Mindvalley, sending my computer home (really expensive! Around 150€) and getting some dollars to travel in Venezuela, because if you change dollars for bolivars in black market you can get so much more for your buck! Official exchange rate is 6,3 bolivars for a dollar and the black market rate 25! And it continues to rise. Afterwards we sold our furniture to our dueña Dilma (landlady) and took a cab to the bus terminal (11.000 COP - 4,3€). There we asked around to get the best price to get to Cucuta, so we ended up going with Omega for 55.000 COP (24€).

After a 19 hour drive! We finally reached Cucuta! The second we left the bus there were 10 people offering to "help" us with changing the money and organize transportation to San Cristobal (other side of the border in Venezuela, about 3 hours ride). All of them looked a bit dodgy but in the end we choose one and change 40$ each (just to reach Caracas) and since Carla told me that I shouldn't accept less than 24 bolivars per dollar so I didn't. Even though he tried to do some different calculations and showed us the total numbers we didn't accept less than 24 per dollar. Then he took us to another office to stamp our dollars (a "safety" precaution so they won't confiscate the money at the border?) and then put the money in a plastic bag and put it in our socks. It looked really fishy and everything was happening so quickly, but I didn't move my eyes off the money! Anisa also said that she always paid attention and was watching the money all time but only later in Colonia Tovar we found out that she had 100$ less! Advice: when it looks fishy it normally is! Beware of moneychangers and "friends" in Cucuta! Than the "friends" organized us the transportation to San Cristobal, 20.000 COP (8,6 €) each and they agreed that we pay half now and half later, so we get into a really old Chevrolet Malibu and we're off to Venezuela! 

Wellcome to Venezuela
Getting close to the border we see Chavez saluting and greeting happily in every corner, at the immigration office and on border signs. At the immigration office we had to wait for about an hour, fill in one page form and get our passport stamped. Then we continued through the main checkpoint where they checked our bags and officially entered Venezuela! :) 

In San Cristobal with Anisa

We continued our trip to San Cristobal, stopped for a really tasty and big lunch (veal steak in sauce with yucca, rice, plantains and vegetables) for 50 bolivars (BsF) (not even 2€). When we arrive to the bus terminal we pay the second part of the money and search for a bus to Caracas. After bargaining and asking around we find one for 200 BsF (6,5€), quite cheap for 12-14 hour bus... So with this company it started badly, since the bus arrived about an hour late and then the air-conditioning doesn't work so they try to fix it, but without success... After about 3 hours wait we finally change the bus and leave for Caracas.  

After a couple of hours we come the first military checkpoint where they empty the bus, check everyone's passports, scan the bags and we continue the journey. After a couple of military checkpoints at around 2 am in the middle of nowhere the bus breaks down! What is this country? One route and already two of the buses that we took broke down? It is going to be a really painful and long journey if this continues! So after they didn't manage to repair it in an hour or so the drivers started stopping the busses passing by and getting us on them. After a couple of traffic jams we finally reach Caracas at around 2 pm! But the journey is not finished, we still have to get to Colonia Tovar! So we move by metro (1,5BsF - 0,04€) and por puesto (small bus) to Junquito (6BsF - 0,20€; 1 1/2h). The first impression of the people is good, really helpful, polite and they like to talk to foreigners :)

Waiting for empty bus in the middle of nowhere
Colonia Tovar

In Junquito we eat a cachapa (tasty corn omelet with cheese for 50 BsF - 1,6€) and wait for the jeep that will take us to Colonia Tovar (28BsF - 0,9€; 1-2h). So after around 50 hours we finally reach Colonia Tovar and meet up with Carla! :)

After an amazing shower we go exploring the town a bit, it really doesn't look like Venezuela! It used to be a really closed German colony so the buildings look like a German village, with pointy roofs, wooden balconies and a lot of German food as well: bread, sausages, strawberries with cream... And also in the shops and restaurants the waitresses are dressed in typical German dresses... After a pizza we bought some booze and had a small house party and then finally some rest in a bed!

The first impression about Venezuela is really good! Really friendly people, cheap, really nice landscape and it's not that unsafe as the media are saying... I think we'll have an awesome time!

Last modified on Tuesday, 29 October 2013 17:07

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