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Published: August 2nd 2010
Night view from my hotel room
Wow! I´m here, I made it to the South American continent - I can´t believe it, it just seems strange that looking out the window now I´m actually looking out on South American people, land, birds, trees.... Strange feeling, but maybe it´s just the jet-lag...!
Here I am in Caracas, after a mammoth 20.5 hour door-to-door journey, which generally went well actually apart from an hour´s delay leaving Madrid. Feeling a bit jet-lagged to be honest, and a bit disoriented, but really excited about what´s gonna happen over the next 4 weeks, and really excited to be able to write about it in this new blog, which I think I´ve now got the hang of.
Just spending my first 2 nights here in Caracas - I think I mentioned that it ain´t the safest place on earth, and the sooner I scarper the better I think. Got this feeling as soon as I left the airport - that not only is this seriously a police-state engulfed with the political propaganda of Mr H Chavez (hope there are none of his agents here in this internet cafe...) - heck, I even had to show my passport to
Intense scene from the Telenovela
buy a few bit and pieces at the local supermarket!!, it is also seriously empoverished with the gap between the rich and the poor as pronounced as any other dodgy country in the equatorial regions (bar of course Singapore). I´m sure I´ll get used to it :0)
Fortunately was met at the airport by a taxi pick-up service - I´d hate to have braved the serious dodgies who were lining up to pounce on backpacked travellers like myself, although one of them did persist in trying to get me to take a spin in his taxi and change some dollars. What a relief when I found the guy with my name on a card, who whisked me away from there and into a waiting Chevrolet taxi which took me away from the Caribbean coast (the airport´s right by the beach), and up the dramatic mountainscape, through one of the longest, pollution-choked tunnel I´d ever seen, and towards Venezuela´s teeming metropolis of 7 million plus people.
I´d actually landed at one of the busiest times, a Sunday afternoon when everyone´s travelling back to Caracas from a weekend away at the beach - and traffic jams a plenty, lots of
car-honking, and the sounds of local "reggaeton" music blasting from every other vehicle, passing a number of ramshackle vehicles, 50% of which were broken down at the side of the road adding further to the jammed chaos, and including a guy in a wheelchair holding on to a motorbike travelling around 30kmph in the fast lane - crazy! Kind of struck home that I´d crossed that border again between developed and developing countries, and quite scary knowing from experience that in a couple of days this kind of sight will just become commonplace and I´ll get used to it. Still, a shock to the system anyways!
Staying in the "safest" part of the city, Altamira, in a nice hotel, though doesn´t feel amazingly safe on the street even around here. People are pretty friendly though, and shop and restaurant service is great.
Not really doing much else except getting a feel for the place, strolling around a bit and preparing for the next few weeks. I did stumble upon a "telenovela" (soap opera) being filmed in a local shanty town area near my hotel, which was quite handy actually as it made it quite safe for me to
View from my hotel room
Shanty town backed by the gleaming buildings of Altamira
take some pictures in an otherwise off-limits kind of area. Also met a guy from a tour agency I´d made contact with through the Lonely Planet´s Thorntree website, who´s gonna hopefully arrange a nice tour for me during the last week of my stay. Also bought a bus ticket to nearby Valencia (supposedly not quite so nice as its Iberian counterpart) to change buses to one bound for Coro, and hopefully my first stop on this tour for some desert, mountain, beach and jungle scenery all within the same small area - amazing!
So not much else to report, ´cepting some first impressions and a few odd ramblings, with a few photos of my first day on this year´s mega-trip attached.
Hope you like, and hope to keep up with this blogging - it´s kind of fun, and if you´ve got this far, hopefully not bored you too much :0)
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