Garbage, gas guzzlers & under the counters specials
Guiria Travel Blog› entry 50 of 123 › view all entries
The ferry crossing to Venezuela passed pretty much without incident. Got chatting to Ramesh, from Trinidad, who was going over there for a week`s holiday and knew a little bit about the place so we decided to forge some plans. Quite a strange way of going about immigration when you come into Venezuela this way, I might add. The police first of all stop the boat about half a mile out at sea and do some sort of inspection. Then they allowed us to dock, but no-one was allowed off. A team of doctors came on the boat to inspect everyone`s health, which took a good half hour - apparently you`re meant to show an immunisation record, but they didn`t seem to mind too much when I said I didn`t have one on me there and then! The doctors then leave the boat and the makeshift office is then taken over by immigration, who came onto the boat from their little portable shack at the port - bizarre! Venezuelans get done first, so it was a while before we allowed into the country.
Ramesh and I went into the town (avoiding the hawks that prey on you at the port) to figure out our options. Guiria is not a great town, rubbish everywhere (they have no sense of caring for the environment here), just a few blocks of concrete houses and shops...nothing to write home about. My first plan was to get some cash. As I found out from a bit of pre-reading a couple of days ago, Chavez has fixed the exchange rates against foreign currencies at a ridiculous level, so that if you withdraw money from an ATM, you get about 2.
We wanted to get a bus further down the peninsula, but they only run in the morning (unless you`re going to Caracas, where there`s one leaving at 4pm), so in the end we went for the taxi option. One thing you immediately notice when you arrive in Venezuela are the cars - they nearly all have these 30 year American beasts - Chevvys, Dodges, Pontiacs - the massive 7-litre guzzlers. The reason they have these is that they`re cheap, big and petrol is virtually free. Venezuela has some of the biggest oil reserves in the world and Chavez has the decency to offer it at US$1 a tank - about 80 times cheaper than the UK!!
So we organised one of the shared taxis (we got 5 passengers in it comfortably!) to take us to Carupano, about 120km down the road. The scenery was lush green the whole way, intersperced by military checkpoints (another thing to get used to in Venezuela). Just as it was getting dark we arrived at the bus terminal in Carupano, hoping we`d find somewhere to stay...