5 – 1 Day Remaining… A Return to Caracas

Puerto Colombia 09-02-2011 003

The Venezulean flag taken by wildyellowbelly photography in Puerto Colombia, February 2011.

5 – 1 Day Remaining!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

8 months and 24 days ago I flew into Caracas to start this South American adventure. Now I’m back here again, I just can’t believe it. It has taken me and Tom 8 months and 24 days of bus travel to go from Venezuela to Colombia, to Ecuador, to Peru, to Bolivia, to Argentina. Our backpacking adventure really stopped in Argentina at the incredible Iguazu Falls. We enjoyed a final Argentinian meal of steak and remembered fondly our favourite parts of the last 8 months and 24 days.

Iguazu Falls 26-10-2011 256  Iguazu Falls 26-10-2011 258  Iguazu Falls 26-10-2011 259

Our last meal in Argentina at Wok & Grill restaurant in Puerto Iguazu. This was really our final meal of the South American adventure because the next 4 days involved constant travel up to Caracas (5 countries in 4 days, Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Portugal, England!!!)

As we had an annoying return flight from Caracas (the fault of Journey Latin America and guide books telling us you can’t travel South America without a return flight ticket. This is not true, at no point in our trip at any border crossing have we ever been asked to prove that we are leaving this continent) we had to take a few flights to return to Caracas quickly. This involved a short hop across the Argentinian border to Brazil at Iguazu. We stayed one night on the Brazilian side of Iguazu. Thankfully there was enough time to down a Brazilian beer and eat A LOT of meat on a Brazilian BBQ…so we can say we’ve been to Brazil!!! After coming out of my meat coma we took a  flight from Foz do Iguacu to Sao Paolo (surprisingly much cheaper than the 16 hour bus). Followed by a flight from Sao Paulo to Caracas, resulting in one night in Caracas. On both visits to Caracas it has been incredibly hard to find any information on staying at a safe place in this city. It has also been difficult finding a place near to the airport as it’s about 20km from the city of Caracas. If you are reading this with the same problem we managed to book a room at…

La Parada Hotel

Avenida La Atlantida, Calle 10, Catia La Mar.

Telephone: 351.2148 / 352.38.84 (called from Venezuela)

Email: hotel_la_parada@hotmail.com

A night at this hotel costs 450 Bolivares. It’s about a 5 minute trip from the airport and the hotel includes a pick up and drop off service from and to the airport. They don’t include breakfast. The area around the hotel is dangerous, well that’s the area around the airport really, I don’t think it would be a great place to go on a walk. A night waiting for a flight is no problem, you’re not going to leave the hotel anyway, they have a restaurant.

I really, really want to let anyone who is planning travel to Venezuela know that YOU MUST COME INTO VENEZUELA WITH AMERICAN DOLLARS. I’m stressing this point because 8 months and 24 days ago me and Tom did not know this. As a result of not knowing this we got absolutely ripped off trying to draw out money from the cash machine and only ended up staying in Venezuela for a week, such a shame.  The money situation in Venezuela is mental.

If you draw out from a cash machine (which is not easy) or if you change your dollars at a legitimate money changer you will get…

$1 = 4.3 Bolivares.

However if you come into the country with dollars and change it on the black market (which is what EVERYONE does) you will get….

$1 = between 8 and 11 Bolivares

This is not a joke, how crazy is that! When you arrive at the airport everyone will approach you asking if you want to change dollars. They will start offering you $1 for about 7 Bolivares. You can bargain and last night we got $1 for 8 Bolivares. However when you go away from the airport and Caracas you can get even more Bolivares for your dollars. In Puerto Colombia (where we first visited at the start of our trip) travellers who were carrying dollars (travellers much smarter than us, haha) got 11 Bolivares for $1 there. So remember bring dollars into Venezuela people! I only wish I’d read this information 8 months and 24 days ago!! I was incredibly confused about the money situation when I first arrived in Caracas. Tom and I made friends with a really nice America guy on our way to Puerto Colombia. He kept going on about how cheap Venezuela was and how he had got his dollars changed for tons of Bolivares. Every time me and Tom would tell him it was expensive and we got $1 for about 4 Bolivares he thought we were mental.

Ok, back to Caracas…I’m only really back here in transit, one night waiting for a flight back to Europe. Despite it only being a very short stop I’ve already been reminded of chaotic Venezuela, the busy roads, colourful buses, beeping horns, people everywhere, huge security railings covering every building, security guarded hostels, hot humid weather, fast crazy music. It feels very Caribbean, I imagine central America would be a lot like this (another trip maybe?!).

Puerto Colombia 08-02-2011 012Maracoy 07-02-2011 004On the left the beach in Puerto Colombia, the first proper stop on this South American adventure, February 2010. On the right taking a brightly coloured, bumpy, loud Venezuela bus in Maracoy, February 2010.

With one day remaining to wait for my flight back to Europe this evening, I’m probably going to blog again later. Well that is if the airport provides free Wi-Fi. Yesterday we were stuck in Sao Paolo airport allllllllllllllllllllllllllllll day and it has to be one of the worst airports I’ve EVER been to. No free Wi-Fi, no comfortable seats, one food shop in the departure area, the most expensive and disappointing airport food. I couldn’t believe it, Sao Paulo airport seems to be the main airport hub for this whole continent, nearly every flight comes in or goes out from Sao Paolo, even flights that you’d think wouldn’t need to come close to this city stop of here. Therefore you’d think this would be an impressive airport….but no.

I’m off to enjoy by last South American breakfast.

Adios

P.S….

This is officially, very nearly, the end of 11 MONTHS AND 6 DAYS OF BACKPACKING (from South-East Asia to South America)!!!!!! 1 day remains…

My Last Week in Taiwan Boooo 006

Leaving Taiwan for Indonesia 11 months and 6 days ago. I was about to take in Indonesia, Thailand, a 2 week refuel in England, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina…a brief stop in Brazil & a final return to Caracas. I think me and Tom deserve a medal!! Haha…

 

Read my last blog about the chaotic last month of my South American adventure. 20 – 5 Days Remaining…Mountains, Whales, Penguins, a Capital City and an Endless Waterfall.

Don’t forget to keep checking Tom’s tumblr. It’s a great scrapbook of photos from each week of this South American trip.

 

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