Last long travel day of the trip.
Playa El Agua Travel Blog› entry 18 of 27 › view all entries
June 19th, 2008 – by: gopackjo
I woke in Ciudad Bolivar sans alarm clock at 6:30am today, and I decided against going to Puerto Ordaz to get a flight to Margarita travel guide">Isla Margarita. That means I have to pack up and head to the bus station. I finally got a taxi for less than 10BsF to go to the bus terminal (8BsF), and checked out my options. A bus was scheduled to leave at 8am, and that would take about 5 hours. And I could get a seat in a shared taxi for 60 BsF (about $21) and get there in about three and a half.
I chose the shared taxi, and felt good when I saw it was a newer Toyota with air conditioning and everything. We seemed to take a roundabout way to get there, but arrived in Puerto La Cruz at about 11:15am. I paid a bit extra to have the taxi take me to the ferry terminal and was there in a short time. The ConFerry service has two options... a regular service that takes about 5 hours, and an express that clocked in at about 3.5. Hmmmm, same choice.
Unfortunately the express wasn't scheduled to leave until 4pm, and the regular service was less money and scheduled for 2pm. The process to get your ticket was quice convoluted. First you have to go to a customer service desk, show your passport and a copy, and fill out a form that is approved by the agent. Then you stand in a long, slow line to actually purchase your ticket. It was a very reasonable $9 for just a passenger, but considerably more if you have a car or truck. Then you have to wait in another line to have your ticket 'verified' before being allowed on board.
I had about two hours before boarding, so I sat down in the terminal cafe and typed out a blog or two while munching on a tasty little pizza. The pizza had ham, mushroom & corn(?!?!?) on it, and the crust was thin and crispy. I burned about half of my battery on the laptop before packing up and heading out to get in line to board.
I was about 20th in line, and it was evident that most of the people heading to Margarita today were Venezuelan's going there to shop, or people from Margarita heading home. There was a German tourist couple in the line ahead of me, and we chatted for a while about the country. They were very disenchanted with the country, and said that they found the people a bit surly. I was suprised to hear that, but I did agree with them that the service industry in the company indicated that the people had become used to not having many choices.
As if to punctuate the point, the boat that was supposed to leave at 2pm, did not even arrive until after 2:30pm. This was with a full dock of large trucks to yet load aboard. We finally left at 3:30pm, and I resigned myself to the fact that I would be arriving at my location long after dark. I personally don't mind this much, but when you don't have a hotel reservation it can become a problem at times. I agree to share a taxi to Playa El Agua with the German couple if at all possible.
The boat is very large, and the ride is quite smooth. There is only the slightest indication that we are in motion at all, and the vibrating of the engines is another clue. I nap and listen to my iPod while on the long trip, and have some Pepitos cheese puffs from the little snack bar as well. It's about 8:30pm when we get into the port at Punta de Piedras, Isla Margarita. There is a frenzy to leave the boat, and I try to look around for the German couple as we approach the taxi stand. I somehow totally miss them, and resign myself to taking a bus into Porlamar, and then trying to get to Porlamar from there.
I find a few other people waiting and verify that they are waiting for a bus to Porlamar. A few cabbies try to pitch different prices to Porlamar and Playa El Agua, but I decide to take a shared taxi into Porlamar for very cheap. I chat with a woman on the way there in the front seat of the Chevy Malibu, and when we arrive she helps me determine that the last bus has left for Playa El Agua. She helps me get a taxi, and I thank her for the help.
I am not really encouraged by the fact that the driver is already one beer into the evening. At least he offers me one, which I declined in case I would have been taking his last one. We stop for gas which is a bit more money here on Margarita, but still dirt cheap. I make small talk with the driver on the way, and it takes about 25 minutes for us to get there in the light traffic. When we arrive in the area, we have a real tough time finding my chosen hotel. I eventually give up when we find another nice looking place closer to the beach.
This place has free wi-fi, and I make sure to get a room with a good signal. It's a bit more than I usually like to pay, but it's late and I can check out the situation further in the morning. My iTunes updates for a good part of the night, and the speed is even good enough to check out my SlingBox and make a few Skype phone calls. Bonus!
I made it to sleep at about 1am, drifting off while watching a South Park episode. Tomorrow I plan on doing absolutely nothing.
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