Grumble grumble grumble
Friday 9 March 2007 29 °C
Well I´ve had a hellish last 24 hours let me tell you! And I have a rotten first impression of Caracas. I got a bus yesterday at 12.30pm, it was late and I actually left at 1.30pm. I met a nice German couple while I was waiting, so it was good to chat with them. They warned me that the bus would be cold, so before I boarded I took out my pant legs (they zip onto my shorts) and a long-sleeved shirt. How little I was prepared!! While there was sun outside the air-con was nice, but during the night it was FRIGID, goddamn cold, and I didn´t sleep a wink cuz I was curled up into myself as tightly as I could be trying to keep warm, grumbling and nearly shivering the whole night. There was one 15-minute moment of blessed relief when the air conditioning didn´t seem to work quite as efficiently and I did sleep then, but alas, it did not last.
And so I arrived in Caracas, Venezuela, at 8am this morning (which felt like 7am still cuz of the hour time difference), sat down in the waiting room for a few minutes while I decided where I was going to go, and took a little bus and then the Metro, Venezuela´s subway system, to an area called Sabana Grande. Finding a hotel was nightmarish as well, despite the help of a couple very friendly English-speaking Venezuelans, because the prices are so exorbant. The central area is cheaper apparently, but the men who were helping me gave a strong recommendation against it as it is quite dangerous at night, and so I´m staying at the ´cheap´ Nuestro Hotel aka Backpackers Hotel for a whopping $22 a night (I´m used to paying no more than $5). Caracas is expensive.
Another kicker with the hotels here is that almost all of them have a double purpose and cater toward 2 separate crowds: they do take travellers, but during the day the open rooms are rented by the hour and they become sort of like brothels. This means that a traveller like myself can´t check in until after 7pm or so, when the seedy side of business is over with, which means that, after a sleepless night on a horribly cold bus, I still haven´t been able to lie down and have to just hang out until this evening. Argh! And I will get to sleep on a bed that x number of hookers, desperate men, or participants of mad affairs have been in. Joy!
Anyway, there have been some amusing and positive things in the last 24 hours as well. The film they showed on the bus was a bootlegged version of The Departed, which won Best Picture and Director I think at the Oscars recently, and which is not yet out on video. And it´s excellent and shocking and my kind of movie cuz I love gangster plots.
And, of course, even though I find the masses of Caracas to be entirely unwelcoming and unfriendly so far, I have met a few individuals who´ve been eager to help me out and who are very kind.
And while I was walking down the street today making observations, I saw:
- two hip parents with a toddler walking between them, hand-in-hand, and he was totally pimped out like them - I´m talking black wife beater and gold chain pimped out, and he wasn´t even 2 years old!
- a huge area in the middle of the street where all sorts of old men are playing chess (not a single woman was there...)
- a shopping mall outside every subway stop, a McDonald´s every 200 metres, Burger Kings, KFCs, and giant monuments atops skyscrapers for Pepsi and Nescafe - interesting for a country so adamantly left-wing and anti-American
Tomorrow I´m going to explore the old, historic part of the city, which should be more interesting. Really though, now that I´m away from the beautiful Caribbean Sea and the tranquil Taganga environment, I´m excited to be coming home. I´m not really in the mood for Caracas.