The City of Love (Motels)

Trip Start Dec 30, 2010
Trip End Jul 06, 2011

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Where I stayed
Neustro Hotel (love motel)

Flag of Venezuela  , Central Venezuela,
Monday, March 21, 2011

Day 77 March 21 - The ride to Caracas was not too long, again there is the internal debate as to which bus stop is mine. I have a feeling we are getting close to the bus company's bus stop, and I notice a subway stop, so try remember which way the bus goes after that. I am in Caracas, low on US dollars and have zero chance of finding an ATM that issues more so I can change on the black market, so we're into cost saving mode, something I am very very good at!!

Grab my bag, ignore all the cries for taxis and set off on a walk. Surprisingly I head the right direction and after twenty minutes am at the subway stop. It's the equivalent of 10 US cents for one ride and I'm lucky that the place I want to stay at is a stop that connects two different lines.
Now this is where people might read and think, oh my isn't Caracas dangerous, why is he catching the subway? Many people have questioned my visit to Caracas, but at the end of the day, one needs to make up their own mind. Yes it may be dangerous, but isn't London, Paris and New York dangerous? With both bags strapped to my body, I happily watched one packed subway go by, but unlike Sao Paulo, I boarded the next one. As ever, I received some interesting looks/stares and after 5 stops it was time to get off. I'm staying in an area called Sabana Grande and I soon find the 'love' motel! It's one of those places where some people can pay by the hour to have a quick nap I guess??? I arrive, every door in Caracas has a buzzer system to get you in. At first I thought the lady was asking if I wanted the room for one hour......what by myself?? Then I thought she said it will be ready in an hour, but eventually I caught on that the room will be ready at 1pm, oh man, it was only 9am!! I was still feeling unwell from over heating the day before and was hoping for some shut eye before I go and explore Caracas. So, I left my stuff, caught up on some emails, went to grab a bus ticket and walked the entire journey back from the bus stop to my hostel, which took about an hour. Once I done all that, it's time for an afternoon siesta as I'm shattered.

I'm woken by some heavy agreeing in the next room. I'm assuming a guy is making some very quiet points during a debate of some sort and his lady friend couldn't stop agreeing with him. Although, I guess she must have made comments that he didn't approve of because if sounded like she was getting her bottom slapped. The helpful love motel owner knocked on the door to remind them that their hour of conversation was up. Luckily, I had headphones, I felt it was a private discussion that I needn't hear! It was close to 5pm, I slowly got myself ready to venture out and find a rooftop bar called 360 degrees. It has some great views of the city and was all the energy I had for this evening. Another subway ride later and a short walk and I'm in a very old elevator climbing to the top of a hotel. It was a pretty posh bar but was very empty, I found myself a corner and ordered a BG cocktail, melon and tequila. The views were amazing!

It's funny, it's time like these that I'm glad I am on my own. As I look out on the skyline of Caracas, I spent five minutes thinking about the ratio of light bulbs to humans. it's the type of crap that goes through my head that if someone was with me, they'd tell me to shut up as I was spoiling the atmosphere. Luckily for me, I am on my own. I sit and contemplate life for an hour or so, at the same time being aware of how dark it was getting and the recommendations about not being in Caracas after 9pm. The bar is great, I think about my time in New York and all the dates that I went on, this would be perfect for a 2nd or 3rd date, a great view, amazing cocktails though I would have to keep the light bulb thoughts to myself. In some ways I miss the excitement of the dating game, though I do not miss the disappointment.
After slowly finishing my drink and head back to the hostel. My body is tired as well as my head. Tomorrow would be a long day, I only have enough cash left for a slice and pizza and no drink, so will need to keep myself occupied to get through the day and somehow get my way to Colombia. Why do I have a shortage of money, well, I've changed all my US dollars, changed them on the black market but have worked out after hostel, buses, taxes leaving Venezuela and a truck ride over the Colombian border, I have very little left and get a really bad rate when withdrawing from the ATM.

Check out is 1pm next day, so at least I can have a lie in. I remember hearing the buzzer go frequently during the night, but that was about it, I had a great night sleep and really needed it.

Miles walked 3.5
Temp 30C 86F

Day 78 March 22 = I sleep in till 11am and slowly spend a couple of hours packing my stuff, having a shower etc. My bus to Maracaibo is at 8pm so I have around 6 hours of exploring to do and one slice of pizza to find, sob sob. I head to the subway and make my way to Plaza Bolivar. It's a pretty easy starting point, furthest west of where I want to be and that way I can walk back through a long park to make my way back to love motel. Before I got to the Plaza, I took a wrong turn out of the subway and ended up in the middle of what I would describe as a council estate, high rise block buildings and kids playing basketball in the centre. I took a snap and disappeared quickly. 

The Plaza is beautiful. I sit there for an hour, on the edge of the Plaza, watching the world go by. An old man sits next to me and starts a small conversation. He asks if I need any help, asks where I'm from and comments that it is so unusual to see someone from England in Caracas. I don't know why, but the city so far is great, yes you need to look out for yourself and not be a total idiot flashing off a camera and cash etc, but the place is great.

Time is ticking by, I have a quick walk around the Plaza again and head for the main avenue that the subway follows.

On the way I pass a crazy market, people playing instruments in another plaza, dense traffic and I pass many people that may not have seen a ginger gringo before, the tug on a mothers arm and a point in my direction. If I'm near, I'll smile and say Hola, haha, I also say Hola to the stray dogs. I walk and walk and am lost in my own world. It's great to one day look back and say, yes I was in Caracas. minding my own business and mostly being left alone. A few people either spat near the floor where my feet are or flick cigarettes in my direction, but this is the ignorant few.

I'm soon at the entrance to Parque los Caobos and enjoy a break from walking near the fountain, watching couples whispering, giggling, smooching, I'm back to drinking water with the chlorine tablets in, it does not taste great but it is free. The park is wonderful, from all the scare stories you hear about Caracas, who would have thought I'd be wandering through a beautiful park.

I get back to love motel after 6pm, grab my bags and head to the bus station. I have about an hour to kill at the bus station and while I line up to board my bus I see something very special. A couple are saying goodbye to each other, there is one last passionate kiss and as he walks away, of course, she wants a cuddle, so sweet and then one last kiss before she boards the bus. It is unlike me to stand there and watch the whole scene, especially unlike me to smile about it afterwards. I would usually look away and mumble something pretty negative about myself but I like this side of human nature, and it made me laugh that he wasn't allowed to leave without giving her a cuddle.

So I board my bus and oh boy, it took 26 hours to get to Cartagena in Colombia. This first bus took me to Maracaibo near the Colombian border and took 12 hours. Because of a lack of cash, I didn't get a direct bus but would find a shared taxi at the border as this was cheaper. Luckily, within a minute of collecting my bag, I was sat in a pick up truck as the driver filled up the other spaces. I was short of cash for the exit tax, luckily the lady sat next to me took pity and let me borrow some. I tried to tell the driver I needed at ATM, but he kept making jokes that everyone would laugh at and then the lady sat in the middle of the front seat, would turn around and look at my reaction. I have no idea what the fat bastard was saying, but it was probably something like, oh look at the rich gringo, he has no money. Well, seeing as my stomach was a little upset, I had no reservations about letting go of the built up gas, so we all had our fun and games in that truck. The guy issuing exit stamps in Venezuela was a right plonker and issued the stamp 30 pages away from the entry stamp, which caused an issue at the Colombian border. It took three hours to get to the crazy border town of Maicao in Colombia, the lady who leant me cash, found an ATM and called a friend to help her work out how much Colombian cash I owed her from the Venezuelan that she leant me. I tried to show her my calculations but she would not accept it, instead asking for a much lower amount. She then hailed me a motorbike and with my large bag on back and small bag on my front, I was driven to the bus station. I didn't think I would fit on the bike, you know with my bags, but I did. As my luck would have it, a bus to Cartagena was just about to leave, they held it for me and I was on my way to Cartagena. This bus took 11 hours.

If it were not for my lack of US dollars I would have happily spent more time in Venezuela. The country is so beautiful, the people very very friendly and it was so good to be back on Spanish speaking South American soil after my Brazilian and Guiana adventure. The highlight of my trip so far has been the Angel Falls. A wonderful experience with two of the kindest people I have met in my life. I will always, always look back on Venezuela with fondness and proud that I ignored the bad press on Caracas and enjoyed my two days there. 12 South American countries visited in my life, just one more to go.
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Pete on

I would love to have seen a picture of you all your bags on a motorbike....did you enjoy your cuddle with the driver?

kimberly on

You're braver than me - I wouldn't have slept in a bed at that hotel!!

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