The Astounding Travel Adventures of a Miraculous Fellow

July 10, 2008, 2:02 pm
Filed under: Venezuela

Amigos y amigas,
I am alive.  Previous to arriving in Caracas this was my mental picture:
Wear shorts, you get murdered.  Carry around your travel book, you get murdered.  Have blond hair, you get murdered.  Go outside, you get murdered.  Try to get murdered, you get murdered. 
Alas, this was not the case.  Not even once did I get murdered.  Upon landing in the airport, we got into customs and received what would be the most common question we would hear from Venezuelans, “Why would you travel in Venezuela?”  After giving what I think was an unsatisfying answer, we walked out of customs, were greeted by Hugo Chavez punching each of us in the face, then we ventured out of the airport to what we expected was certain annihilation.
However, this was not the case.  The first person to greet us was not a kidnapper demanding our kidneys and eyeballs, but a friendly, English-speaking Venezuelan…demanding our eyeballs and kidneys.  Actually, he was just a taxi coordinator who was really helpful and cool.  However, our taxista was at the airport, so we did not get a good chance to find out if this English-speaker was just trying to soften us up to remove our eyeballs with no damage. 
Willy and I then met up with Pat at the hotel without incident and “Operation Try Not to Get Murdered From the Airport to the Hotel” went off without a hitch. 
As for the rest of Caracas, it is an expensive, expensive city, and is insanely busy.  The exchange rate situation is retarded at best: the county has set an official exchange rate at 2.1 bolivares per dollar, but you can buy it on the black market at 3.3 bolivares per dollar.  While it sure sounds cool to say that I utilized the black market for something other than women of the night and illegal narcotics, this is a pain in the ass.  What further worsens the situation is that I have little idea what a bolivar is really worth, so I just walk into restaurants, bars, hotels, and stores, throw my money into the air and make it rain.  I figure it’s really just the easiest way to do it.
The traffic in Caracas is unbelivably awful, worse than what I’ve seen in LA at its worst.  But, they have this gas crisis figured out really well.  People here pay, no joke, 10 cents a gallon.  So, if you’re feeling the gas crunch in the USofA, just drive to Venezuela and fill up.  Aside from the murderers, Chavez intermittently popping out of bushes to punch us in the face, and traffic, there are parts of Caracas that are really nice.  There is a huge mountain that is right next to the city, with an almost untouched rainforest.  We hiked around it for a couple of hours, got some amazing views of the city, and escaped the exhaust fumes for awhile.  We even became emboldened enough to say “F U murderers, it’s too hot, we’re wearing shorts!  Do your worst!  At least we’ll die with tan lower legs, you bastards!”
One of the most interesting things about Venezuela is that there are no tourists AT ALL.  We’re the only three.  And people let us know this.  Even when we were trying to blend in, it was painfully obvious that we are not Venezuelan.  And with my dashing blond locks of hair, I think I take the “Most Foreign Foreigner” Award.  Take that Pat and Willy!  Victory is mine!  It’s really funny watching people stare at us when we walk by.  It’s almost worse than Colombia.  For example, we took a tram up to the top of the mountain in Caracas, which is really touristy with Venezuelans, and we stunning Americans were more popular than the stunning mountain views themselves.  One woman walked by us and said “Oooooh Gringos” while a group of others were not so subtle and stopped us to take a picture with them.  No joke.  It was incredible. 
We’ve also met two different people, one at a club and one on the bus, that both asked us “Where are you from?  Why would you travel in Venezuela?”  While this would generally be a disconcerting question normally, the people here have been so friendly and helpful.  Our new best friends in Caracas, Adriana and Maricela, drove us around, wined (or technically “rummed”) and dined us, and let us stay at their place.  Another guy we met on the bus to the coast started talking to us, then got his friend to pick us up at the bus station to drive us around to find a hotel.  I think it’s a little combination of 100% certainty that we’ll be killed if we go around on our own, and genuine kindness.  Good people here in Venezuela, even the murderers are polite enough to say “Please turn around” before they shoot you in the back of the head.
The Fourth of July was quite a fun experience too.  We pretty much did what we would have done at home: drink copious amounts of rum, dance to reggaeton and merengue music until our feet were bleeding, and try to understand the machine gun Spanish from the locals.  We did, however, try to keep it real and get the DJ to play “Born in the USA” for the 3 gringos at the club and 400 Venezuelans.  Alas, we were unsuccessful.  Which was probably for the best, because our friend got him to read a little note wishing us a happy fourth of July of over the microphone to a smattering of boos from the crowd.  That was the last mistake those people ever made.
All in all, though, Venezuelans are really cool people with no major grudge against Americans, just a profound interest in why the hell we’d choose their country to visit.  But, for those Venezuelans reading this, do not think this endorsement allows you to now go ahead and murder us and steal our eyeballs.  Because I can easily revoke my kind words, and badmouth you to the 2 people who have read this blog…and my Mom and Dad have a lot of political clout…
So far, we’re having a great time in Venezuela.  It’s not nearly as bad as it’s made out to be.  Many an awful Venezuelan beers have died at our hands, many a delicious Venezuelan rum have perished as well, many a bad dance move has been stumbled out, and many a poor Spanish sentence has been spoken, but luckily we’re still alive and having a blast.
Now I must go, as Presidente Chavez just popped out of the next internet booth and wants to punch me in the face again.  I’m getting rather tired of that guy…


11 Comments so far
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I wish you had good stories to tell, Jeff. Your adventures, as sadly lacking in murder as they are, bore me. Please either get murdered or learn handy murdering tips before you arrive in Buenos Aires: we do not enjoy amateur night in the big city…

Comment by wheelo

while its good to hear you were not murdered, i was selfishly wishing they’d steal at least one eyeball so you’d have to wear a patch, and i could tell people you’re a pirate which i think would help explain a lot…by the way the A’s traded Harden to the cubs.

Comment by radreagan

As brutha lynch would say, RIP, rest in piss

Comment by marc wrinkle

Good to hear you’re well buddy. Undoubtedly you all are cleaning up in the city where good looking gringos are a rare occurrence. To your north, in Nicaragua, “gringos” aren’t much more appreciated by the current regime. Our boy Ortega was just down in Maracaibo a couple days ago singing the praises of your pesky neighboring FARC terrorists while smacking high-fives with Chavez and Honduran president Mel Zelaya. Good times I suppose. Heads up, I’ll be hitting Medellin around the 11th of September for a couple days and would love some tips/possible contacts to check out while I’m down there. If you’ve got any advice I’d love to hear it. Hasta entonces, paz pa’fuera holmes, take it easy.

Comment by MRM

My buddy lost a kindey after a night at the disco in Caracas. Watch your kidneys.

Comment by Alfred

watch your kidneys indeed

Comment by Rankor

i saw presidente chavez playing as the bush man on fishermans warf today so i hit him and starting the moondance on coke lids and was blessed with Victoria Lanz for being the second most foreign foreigner. Caracas … next is BA – the greatest city in argentina and the richest in SA.

Comment by James Shannon

[…] CaracasUpon landing in the airport, we got into customs and received what would be the most common question we would hear from Venezuelans, “Why would you travel in Venezuela?” After giving what I think was an unsatisfying answer, … […]

Pingback by Venezuela » Venezuela Margarita Island business in venezuela

[…] CaracasUpon landing in the airport, we got into customs and received what would be the most common question we would hear from Venezuelans, “Why would you travel in Venezuela?” After giving what I think was an unsatisfying answer, … […]

Pingback by Venezuela » Venezuela und Ecuador bauen gemeinsame Ölraffinerie - Hannover Allgemeine

Es mui bueno!

Comment by Black Olive

Es mui bueno!!

Comment by Black Olive

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