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Published: March 8th 2012
Saying goodbye to the Southern hemisphere, we left for Santiago airport at 5:30 am on February 24th and we finally boarded a plane that left on time! This will definitely be our last early morning flight. After one stop and two movies (Due Date and Just Go With It) we arrived earlier than schedueld in Caracas, Venezuela and breezed through customs and luggage claim. However after that we had quite the experience, to say we were bombarded by the locals is an understatement. They were expediting their taxi services to the city as well as their "cambio", which is the money exchange. In Caracas there is a black market for money exchange and some people can fetch up to a maximum of double the bank rate, needless to say we made use of "no, gracias" and kept on going! We met our driver and headed to the city but not before he stopped to get gas in his car. He put in 33 liters of gas and paid 3.20 bolivars (local currency) which is equivalent to about $0.80, we were in total shock (and quite jealous)! We arrived safely at our hotel and after our usual settling in and
getting accustomed to the area, we went to a local Italian restaurant to eat. Fortunately this place was within walking distance so we headed back to the hotel and planned for our next day. First thing in the morning after breakfast we went to Mount Avila which is one of four main peaks along the Cordillera de la Costa (Venezuelan Coastal Mountain Range). Cerro Avila is 2200 meters above sea level and is access only via a "Teleferico" that offers some amazing and scary views! At the top of the mountain there is a walking path which leads to the old historic Humboldt Hotel (no longer in use). The beauty of this mountain range is the location... at the top you can look South onto the city of Caracas then pull a 180 and view the vast Caribean Sea! We stopped for a traditional berries and cream dessert (fresas y melocotones con crema) along the way and satisfied our sugar craving. As the views started to dissipate when the clouds rolled over the mountain tops, we headed back down to the hustle and bustle of the city.
After a quick supermarket run for lunch we met up with the
cousin of a friend of ours. She was courteous enough to give us a guided tour of the city centre including Plaza Bolivar, the Caracas Cathedral, Casa del Libertador (Simon Bolivar's birth house), Iglesia de San Francisco (where Bolivar's funeral was held), and several important government buildings. Having grown up here, she was also able to tell us lots of history of the country in general, which is always interesting to hear from someone who has lived through it. We then headed to a small, well-preserved colonial town called El Hatillo, where we had a drink and tried a local appetizer similar to mozzarella sticks. After this we headed back to the Altamira area to try some more traditional Venezuelan food, arepas and cachapas (fried corn pancakes filled with just about anything you want!). After a very full day we went straight to bed!
On Sunday we said goodbye to South America as we boarded our short flight to the Dutch Antilles island of Curaçao (yes - where the blue liqueur comes from!). Finally, we walked out of an arrivals gate to a familiar face! Curaçao
The beautiful island of Curaçao was the perfect place to take
a vacation from our traveling! Our friend Marcy's sister Kathie and her husband John were kind enough to take these two weary travelers into their home and they treated us like gold the entire week. We got the tropical island experience without the craziness of a busy resort. We relaxed by the pool, snorkeled in the sea, lounged at the beach, ate lots of nachos, drank lots of wine, watched Animal Planet and Discovery, read books and worked on our tans... after being on the go non-stop for 4 months, this laid back week was a slice of heaven! We went into town to check out the city, which includes buildings that are smaller, more colourful versions of the architecture we've seen in Amsterdam. We hiked around the island enjoying the beautiful scenery and balmy breezes, even coming across a herd of goats! We celebrated Liz's 30th birthday, complete with delicious gluten-free cake (thanks Kathie!). We had a LOT of laughs. And most importantly we got to spend some quality time with our good friends Marcy and Andrew and of course baby Jack! It really was the perfect end to an amazing trip. Thanks again to Kathie and John for
Back on Canadian soil
Our welcome home sign and flowers - thanks D&D!
their incredible hospitality, you guys were too good to us. Canada
After a quick stint in the VIP lounge at Hato airport (may as well live it up to the fullest before going home!) we boarded our slightly delyed flight and 5 hours later, after 4 months of traveling, we were finally home in Toronto. We were met at the gate by smiling faces, a welcome sign, flowers, and (sorry Marcy) blondies! Oh, and the cold shock of winter weather - thankfully no snowstorm though! And just like that, our gran viaje came to an end. Now, we start the next phase of our adventure - real life!
To all of our family and friends, thank you so much for your love and support, your prayers, your calls / emails / Face Time / skype chats / etc., and being there for us during this trip and always.
Thanks for reading!
Love Liz & Chris
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