|My last stop before Europe. Didn't get off to a good start. After the overnight bus from Cumaná to Maracay it was another 3 hours to Puerto Colombia. My knee was stiff and I could barely walk. Got off the bus and went into the nearest posada I could find. The lady at the posada took one look at my knee and told me that I should go and see the doctor in the neighbouring village of Choroní, my knee was by now about twice / three times it's usual size and people in the street were looking at it. I went after I had some lunch. I could hardly get in or out of the taxi.... The doctor put my on a drip, I was there for 3 hours. They had given me pain killers (a shot in the bum, very painful too), steroids and other stuff. At least I could walk when I left... and it was totally free!
After all of that finally got in some rest and relaxation on the beach, Playa Grande. Optimal way to round things off before the longhaul back to Europe.
Thoughts on Venezuela ?
A really stunning beautiful country with so much variety from the Caribbean beaches to the Andean mountains, from the busy cities of Caracas and Maracaibo to the virtually unpopulated Los Llanos and La Gran Sabana and from the Orinoco Delta and Angel Falls to the majestic tepuy mountain of Roraima. Absolutely spectacular, what's more is that there are plenty of people in their 50's and 60's with their rucksacks exploring the country so it can't all be bad!
The food was a bit of a let down, lots of fast food and burger joints. Fashion was something else. Most of the blokes were done up like extras from the latest hip hop video and the style for many ladies was to squeeze yourself into something at least 3 sizes too small.... Trinny and Susannah from "What not to Wear" would have had a field day! Sadly I didn't have the courage to take any pictures to illustrate what I mean.... a lot of it was mind bogglingly awful, that plus I didn't fancy getting into a fight with anyone!
As for the president..... spoke to many people who said he was doing good things helping the poor to better their lives (which is a good thing since almost 75% of the population are living below the poverty line) and doing more than any other of the previous administrations. Richer people on the other hand were not very complimentary at all and quite a few were worried for the future fearing that the government were going to confiscate their money over night. Just about all the towns still had their election slogans painted up ranging from "uh, ah Chávez no se va" meaning he's not leaving government (any time soon - my addition) to slogans talking about how the pueblo (people) (through their president, naturally) are now governing the country. I think this is what is called "21st Century Socialism", though it did seem a bit sinister when a media broadcaster which had been going for 50 years suddenly lost their licence after allegedly criticising the president.... imagine what would happen to the BBC under these conditions! There's plenty of political tourism, people were in Venezuela to talk to the locals to find out what life is like.
The price of petrol.... wow, less than 2p per litre (official rate) and less than 1p per litre (unofficial rate), it explained the high number of very big 4 wheel drive cars on the road. When I told people what it cost in London, they couldn't understand why the people put up with it...why indeed!
Top Tip: Go to Venezuela now before it becomes too expensive :o)