Craig and Rebecca Trip Journal travel blog













April 5-9, 2007

After finishing our tour, caracas was the first place that we would actually have to rely on our own skills and spanish to get us by, since there is only 4 of us now (me, bec, damo and shari). The flight from Lima to Caracas was a pretty bumpy one, so on arrival we grabbed our bags and once we got out of customs (which was very easy i must add) we just got swamped by all these guys asking us for taxi's and money exchange. I must say there are a fair few dodgy people going around, like for example the official exchange rate was 2200 Bolivares per USD$1, somehow alot of these dodgy blokes were offering a rate of about 3000, even the security guard was hustling us to change money off him. Anyway after I was nearly going to do a deal with some guy for 2700, i though i better come to my senses and go to the official money exchange, at least then i knew i wasnt going to get any counterfeit notes. After about 20 minutes of us stuffing around, changing money, looking too see if there was any buses into caracas, we decided that taking a taxi was our only option, starting prices was 200,000 bolivares, we learnt from our previous sth america journeys that you just about half everything offered to you, so i was walking around trying hard for ciento diez mil (110,000) in my very bad spanish voice, no one wanted a bar of me, but we ended up getting it for 120,000 which apparently is the lowest rate that anyone will take you. After wasting time negotiating it turned out that the taxi driver we picked was able to speak a fair bit of english as he went to school in the states, so he kindly said to us ¨wait here and i will go get my car¨, after waiting 5 minutes he arrived in this huge 2 door chevelot type car with dark tinted windows, it was quite clear to us that he wasnt really a taxi driver and he was a pretty scary looking guy aswell, big black dude about 190cm and 100kg. We hesitantly took the risk and jumped in the car (will put a photo on when i get a chance), the journey into caracas can take anywhere from 1 to 3 hours depending on traffic as one of the major bridges is being repaired. As it turns out the guy admitted to us that he wasnt a real taxi driver (gee like we didnt know that anyway), we were all a little bit concerned as it was night time aswell. A long story short, he turned out to be ok, he got us to the hotel altamira safely, and actually gave us some good tips about caracas, advising us that it was pretty dangerous, and also to carry a copy of our passports, as police are very corrupt and are known for taking bribes for people who dont have their passports, also he warned us that sometimes they will even rip up your original passport just to get money out of you. On arrival at the hotel it seemed liked we had choosen badly, as it looked like a real slummy type area with alot of lower class houses around us, but upon wake up in the morning it turned out to be in a pretty good spot, just one block from the train station, and close to a nice park where everyone seemed to go.

We decide to venture out and get on the train to the major part of the city which was only about 2 stops away, once we arrived heaps of things were closed because of good friday, plus 90% of the population are catholics there is a strictly no selling of alchohol policy, some people were even telling us that there was no drinking for the 4 days of easter, so it sounded like we were in for a long 4 days. We decided that going to watch a movie would be the best thing so we went and say NORBIT with eddie murphy, afterwards a late dinner then off to sleep for a quiet night.

The next day (saturday) we decided to go up to the el avilida national park via cable car. So we jumped on a train to the closest station, and caught a cab to the cable car depot, however on the way there was a police road block, they stopped our car and ordered us to all get out, they actually searched damo, probably because he is the dodgest looking out of us all LOL. They didnt speak any english, but we could understand that he was asking us for our passports, we were all very concerned especially after what our cab driver from the airport was telling us. So we tried to explain to him that we had our passports in the hotel safe, so they wouldnt be stolen, he just kept looking at us saying ¨no entiendo¨(dont understand) and kept asking for our passports, after a few minutes of trying to explain, i remember i had a copy of my passport on me, so i showed it to him with my immigration slip (i was the only one that had it on me), so we were just getting ready for the worst and handing most of a cash over, but luckily he had a look at it and funnily enough he could all of a sudden speak a bit of english, he kindly said to me ¨thank you, i am sorry for the misunderstanding¨and let us go on our way (lucky us).

After that little drama we finally made it to the cable cars, $25 each and a one hour wait, we finally got on the cable car and started heading up the mountain, it was a great view of the city while it lasted (the cable car is about a 10 minute ride up, so pretty big), but because it was a big cloudy we couldnt really see anything after the 5 minutes. We eventually made it to the top, and had a look around. They had some food stalls, kids games, ice skating rink etc etc up there. Also because of easter they were re-enacting the last supper. We stayed up the top for about an hour, then headed back down to get some lunch, turns out that alcohol was being served, but we quickly found out that after our first beer (bout 2:30pm) there was a 3pm cut off time, so we wondered down the supermarket and brought some drinks for the night, where we ended up just relaxing in the hotel playing some cards etc, while the church next to us was having easter saturday festivities.

Tomorrow we leave early in the morning at 4am to go to the airport and fly out to Jamaica, via miami. We are looking forward to speaking a bit more english.

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