A Travellerspoint blog

November 2008

Mystical lightning and dirty beaches

Small beers and Big colas in Venezuela


View MAP OF THE JOURNEY on AnnaMickus's travel map.

We decided to take a short trip to Venezuela while we’re at it. So we jumped on a ”ohmygodcanitgetanycolderinthisbus” night bus that took us to the shady border town of Cúcuta. We wasted no time in getting to the border to Venezuela, which was no less shady than Cúcuta...

Already when driving to the border we noticed a new phenomenon: there seems to be a lot of old North American big cars here, the kind that have huge engines and beautiful shapes, you know these old Dodge cars with a long front and long back and sometimes the front seat is just a long sofa. Think Death Proof, the Tarantino movie. It is like we have come back to the seventies. Especially the taxis are cars like this. We found out the reason soon: the petrol in this country is very cheap. You can fill a 60 litre tank for the same price as you buy a cup of coffee or an ice-cream. I read somewhere on the Internet that the petrol here is probably the cheapest in the world. Niiice.

After crossing the border and getting our bags checked again we stumbled into a coffee shop and had some food after not eating for ages. We noticed there that people here seem to be as friendly as in Colombia, and that they share the same interest in foreign tourists as well. We also noticed that this country is freakin expensive! We won’t survive long here on our budget. Luckily, if you are fortunate enough to be carrying dollars or euros you can change them on the black market and get almost the double than what you get if you get the money from an ATM. So we’re not totally screwed...

When we got on the bus to San Crístobal we heard people behind the bus scream ”rubio, rubia” (blond) at us. I guess they’re even less used to white people here than in Colombia...But the ”bus music culture” seems to be the same here: the music plays all the time, and it plays LOUD. If it isn’t just music, it is a music video, and if it isn’t a music video, it is a movie. And it is made sure nobody can be without hearing each and every word of the movie whether they want or not. Very seldom is it quiet. In some buses they even have these really huge sound systems rigged somewhere close to the driver and you can just see those huge speakers moving when the music is blasting out from them.

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From San Christobal we took a bus to Mérida in the mountains. We didn’t spend much time there as the town didn’t have anything new to offer us (yup, soon we’ve seen it all) and after all, our destination was the Caribbean coast! So we took a ”ohmygodcanthisseatgetanymorecramped” night bus to Coro on the Caribbean coast. It wasn’t all bad because as usual they were showing movies on the bus and we were also lucky to spot some of for that region famous lighting without thunder. The sight was quite spectacular when the sky lit up in the distance in a light yellowish big shape.

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Mérida

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Chavez on tv

In Coro we saw some huge sand dunes in a national park and then we mostly just wandered around town. Coro is one of the most well preserved colonial towns in Venezuela, but to be honest it wasn’t that impressive... After a couple of days in Coro we went to a peninsula just north of it and spent a couple of days in Adícora by the beach. Finally, the ocean that we had been waiting for for such a long time! We celebrated it with some delicious passion fruit daiquiris and some local rum and wine. The warmth of the water in the ocean was surprising; we could’ve stayed there for hours! The amount of waste on some of the beaches was also amazing! How can people do this to our beautiful nature?

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What the heck happened to the sizes of the beers?

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As the few places we had visited in Venezuela seemed a bit rough edged and dirty we decided to head back to Colombia. When we go to the bus station in Maracaibo, a town a couple of hours’ drive from the border, we had a pleasant surprise: there were no buses that went to the border, the only way to get there was by car. So we did what any sane gringo on a shady Venezuelan bus station would do: we went to a dirty alley next to the bus station and got in a car with a fat dirty driver who demanded we pay immediately or he wouldn’t drive anywhere. Well it was a bit comforting that we shared the car with a young woman with her two kids who were also going to Colombia.

After a stop at a petrol station I was convinced that the driver had planted drugs in our bags because I saw him moving around things in the trunk and his mood somehow changed from being quiet and half rude to talkative and very friendly. I was sure he was playing together with the border police and would try to demand huge amounts of money from us in order to get us off the hook. The woman in the back seat also appeared to be a bit nervous and quiet so I started suspecting a collaborate scam between the two of them. At the border when we were walking back to the car after getting stamps in our passports the car wasn’t where it had left us. ”Well that was it, there went the bags!”, we thought. But in the next second we saw the driver waving to us a bit further down the road. So as usual, the guy turned out to be a genuinely friendly guy who had done his best to get us as quickly and safely as possible over the border to Colombia. As soon as we had passed the border the woman also seemed relieved, put a smile on her face and exclaimed how happy she was to be back in Colombia where everything is better and nobody bothers you.

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Summary Venezuela

SCORE (4-10):
7 Chaveses!

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Posted by AnnaMickus 12:46 Archived in Venezuela Comments (0)

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