Monday, November 14, 2011

Ciudad Bolivar, Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (No, Really)

The puffin has landed. I have left Korea where the blog died. It was the victim of my usual MO. I get settled, I get accustomed and then I can't be bothered to write.

It is now arisen since I landed yesterday in Caracas. I was too tired to reflect that I had just landed on a continent where I had never set foot before. I was also trying very hard to look alert as this place has the kind of rep usually associated with areas that produce hip hop artists.

I am now on my way out again for reasons of cowardice. I stayed at a local hotel and decided not to set foot in Caracas. The interwebs has various opinions on Caracas. Some will claim that you are guaranteed to spend the night in the boot of a car as your kidnappers wait for another go at your ATM card. Others claim it is maligned and they went to the worst neighourhoods of the place and met such refreshing local people because they are open minded and/or well 'ard. The deciding factor for me was someone from Venezuela who was firmly in the "you will get robbed at the very least". So it's in and out for this Gringo. This means that the only observations I have for the moment are what I could glimpse on the way to the hotel (it looks poor) and the airport itself.

Airports are usually poor barometers of what lies beyond. They are often government ego projects and are usually much cleaner and modern than the country itself. The notable exceptions being Paris CDG (very crap airport but the town is worth a peep) and Heathrow (it's shit and so is London). Simon Bolivar airport does have some interesting features. Everyone and his dog is trying to change money as the government did one of those artificial hyperevaluation thingys that guarantees a thriving black market and a forced re-introduction to basic maths for the backpacker.

Also fun is the revolutionary language. There is a lot of gumph about HC being for the people and a nice use of Bolivarian Socialism (no idea what that entails) as an excuse to make you declare your crap at customs. My favourite though has got be the motto of the Customs bureau (or maybe the whole govt.). It's a wonderful demonstration of the importance of punctuation. In English it's : Country, Socialism or Death, We will vanquish!. Exactly what our the choices on offer are or what will be defeated is amusingly unclear to my pedantic mind.

I had made vague promises of putting a detailed plan of my South America trip on this blog for anyone who wishes to join me. I have already ballsed that up. I got comfy in England and therefore left later than planned. I also have to be in Rio by the 15th. In between I must visit or at least spend some time in Venzuela, Guyana, Suriname and French Guyana. So far my plan is to go to Angel Falls in Venezuala and have a look at the Papillon islands in French Guyana. I haven't chatted to fellow backpackers yet so I don't know what to see and do in the other 2. Basically, any kind of plan will have to wait until Crimbo. Until then it's getting back to travelling with a fun run.

I am already getting in the spirit of being put in annoying circumstances as I think my bank has just frozen my card . I have decided to use my British bank account and am already paying the price as they love to block your card if you use it anywhere else than a home counties Marks and Spencers. The best bit is that you can warn them all you want they will still do it. I wouldn't mind having some Bolivarian Socialism heaped on the clowns that came up with that system.

Anyhoo, It's fun to be blogging again so take care,



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