Steve's Adventures in South America
I bought a one-way ticket to Venezuela and I'm not coming back until my tube of toothpaste runs out...

Caracas, Venezuela, 30°C

View from Hostel Tanauso

Sitting in my room in Hostel Tanauso, overlooking the sea and beaches where children paddle in the sunset, I can do nothing but ponder over the last thing I read before setting off on my journey from London some 21 hours ago. It was from the Worst Case Survival Handbook - Travel Edition and it read, "Always be prepared to deal with the unexpected for if something can go wrong it often does." Now this has nothing to do with the fact that I arrived at the wrong terminal at Heathrow (T3 instead of T2) or that my London to Paris flight was delayed by an hour meaning I almost missed my Jumbo Jet to Caracas. It's more the fact that Air France LOST my main ruck sack and all my gear within it. Doh! Or as the airline rep told me straight after a quick computer check, "We don't know where the hell it is." Now I'm left wondering how I can continue (or even start) my trip without my stuff! If I were to replace my kit, Caracas doesn't strike me as the safest place to undergo a major shopping expedition! None the less, I'm to phone Air France back tomorrow after 11 O'Clock to see if it's turned up anywhere; which scuppered my original plans of flying to Cuidad Bolivar first thing in the morning.

View from Hostel Tanauso

Given that all the tourist books harp on about being mugged in Caracas, no sooner had I left customs upon landing, I was very wary about being set upon by Mike Angel. A big burly guy who seemed intent on being my un-official tour guide and my new best friend! Not wanting to become a statistic just yet I ditched him by getting his phone number and saying I may phone him tomorrow for some taxi work. I found a tourist information point and was relieved to find the girl behind the counter spoke English. She laughed when I said I wanted a place for $40 US a night (they're into 4/5 star hotels which cost many times more). But a few phone calls later, it seemed everywhere was booked up except for a place for $41 US (Ha!) plus an extra $25 US for the hostel to come pick up and bring me back to the airport tomorrow if needed.

The taxi ride was scary, we passed lots of street markets with bored, desperate looking young men. Forget getting mugged by the taxi driver, I thought we were going to get car-jacked! Amidst all this we pulled into the hostel, through some security gates and the usual fat security guard. This not looking the safest place in town I figured I'd eat in tonight!

At reception I paid for the night in USD and converted $70 US into local groats but the girl only gave $50 US worth of currency. By the time I noticed I was too tired to argue, nobody here speaks English. So I take a kip, a cold shower (grrr) and head to the restaurant for 20:20 and order mixed grilled meat and chips. The waitress is a short plump woman with huge breasts and a face which looks like she could have been a vampire extra in "[From Dusk till Dawn]``"! The plate looked huge and greasy but I eat it all, along with 2 Polar Ice beers (much needed). I feel like I could sleep for days so I decide to give it a try.

Posted by Steve Eynon