The Monkey Tracker

Friday, February 18, 2011

We´re coming back to Venezuela

Day 3 - Caracas
The insanity began at the Caracas airport where we were greeted with a mob of screaming locals. Some sort of famous singer showed up or something. We still think the mob was there for us though and we G-d up the crowd good and proper as we walked past. After navigating through the scammers we were relived to find our driver in amongst the scam artists and tourist kidnappers holding a sign with our names on it. This strange man’s name was William and he could not speak a word of English. Note: we need to learn Spanish. There was one thing he understood though, which we can’t discuss in full, we only know his name is Fernando. At any mention of this name William would nod gently, and through a slight grin whisper the words "ahhhhhhhhhhhhh... Feeeeeeeernnaaaando, harhahrhahahrarha". William got us safely to Hotel La Floresta, our new cave!

We met our James Bond contact at the concierge of the hotel, his name was Juan-Carlos. He sorted us out with the "switch" (black market money transfer from $US to Bolivar). He came to our hotel room to make the switch, real shifty like.

While sampling some of the local cuisine, we met some friendly locals. Still no sign of Feernandoo. And we don’t want fries with that, it’s not in the budget.

This was to become a theme of Caracas, lurk around Maccas trying to find someone that could speak English. We went with them to a concert in the park, unfortunately it was government organised propaganda scam and our friends were very much anti-Chavez. We moved on to a bar to try some Polar beer at around $1 a bottle. Several hours later we went back to the hotel for a few hours rest before our big day with Feeernandoo. Let’s just say the tension was rising for this anticipated encounter.

Day 4 - Morrocoy

Fernando insisted that we meet William in the shady alleyway next to the hotel at 4:30am, who were we to argue? We got in the jeep and the insanity began as we ventured though the fog into the windy maze of roads that these people seem to build on the side of steep hills in the pitch back night. We weren’t stopping for red lights either. Unlike Australia, you’re insane if you stop for red lights at this time of the morning.

As we ventured higher the slums started to become highly fortified houses. We're talking 10 foot brick walls with double stacked concertina barbed wire, electric fences, spikes and security cameras covering all angles. 

For those who couldn’t afford electric barbed wire and crocodiles with laser beams on their head, broken glass bottles mashed into the top of the concrete work was the way to go.


We passed through a security check point, traveled around a few bends and then the jeep came to an abrupt stop out the front of this Goliath blank brick wall. William chucked "ahhhhhh Casa de Fernando.. harhaharharhah".. William got out but gestured for us to stay in the jeep. The door opened, two big dogs ran out and circled William but they did not attack. Some mysterious female shadow passed William a black backpack. And we were on our way again.
We hit the road for 3 more hours of madness, heading West on the way to "the best beach in Venezuela" (and also on the way to the Colombian boarder). Along the way we witnessed several close calls, one roll over and even our driver nearly crashed while swatting a fly.

Just like a James Bond movie, we pulled into a highly secured marina. William issued the signal call on his radio and the gates rolled opened. Nomad was sipping a Martini.. Ok we made that part up.

At the marina we met our elusive host Fernando and loaded up the boat, a 36' luxury cruiser. 


At the fuel station we filled the 600L tank for a total of $6, outrageous! 1 cent a litre! Fuel is cheaper than water here.

The boat featured twin 8.1L Mercruisers and we were soon at our destination, a crazy party lagoon full of expensive boats, loud music and well equipped women! 

This place was Caribbean Paradise. The day was spent swimming in the crystal clear water and lounging on the boat to the relaxing sounds of loud Venezuelan disco music. Some boats even had generators and full PA systems, all trying to be louder than the boat next door.

We were convinced that this country had some sort super genetics with their women. Far superior to any we had seen before. However, a local guy shared some useful beta with us. It turns out silicon is the most common 16th birthday present in Venezuela. On our drive that morning we did notice that even the mannequins are well equipped.


That night we ate at the only restaurant in the area that hadn't been robbed recently, although there’s always a first time! We slept on the boat in air-conditioned comfort, well-earned rest after a strenuous epic day.


We fear that Nomad has rabies.

Day 5 - Morrocoy and Caracas
The next day Fernando drove us back to Caracas in his V8 Landcruiser, Mucho Velocidad!

The rest of the day was spent recovering in the hotel and various cafes.

Day 6 & 7 - Crash and Burn
The lack of sleep and food eventually took its toll and a couple of days were spent doing very little. The occasional trip to the park or the shops helped prevent cabin fever. We don't remember much more, all we know is Beric is still wearing the exact same unwashed clothes as when we left


Day 8 - Cuevas Del Indio
After realising we were meant to be on a climbing trip, we decided to go to the urban crag of Cuevas Del Indio in the middle of Caracas. We climbed a few moderates on surprisingly good quality limestone. In places it really reminded us of Butterfly Valley in Vietnam. That night we attended a random Japanese concert with some Maccas Amigos.

Day 9 – Avila Mountain
The huge mountain behind Caracas had been mocking us for days, we had to climb it. Our friend Jose Alejandro offered to take us part of the way up. It was a short walk with some nice view of Caracas in amongst the high voltage power lines.


Day 10 – Last day in Caracas

Our final day was spent unpacking and repacking the bags (habit?) and then meeting with Fernando one last time. Adios Venezuela, now to Peru.

Bueno advice:

·         The most valuable attribute on a trip like this is FLEXIBILITY

·         “Steve has flees.. got any advice?”…”Fire, if fire doesn’t work I can only suggest Google”.

Now for some encouraging advice from various governments regarding travel to Venezuela:

“Armed robberies take place throughout the city, including areas generally presumed safe and frequented by tourists.”

“The embassy has also received multiple, credible reports of victims of “express kidnappings” occurring at the airport, in which individuals are taken to make purchases or to withdraw as much money as possible from ATMs, often at gunpoint.”

“Violent crime is a serious problem, and the capital city of Caracas has been cited as having one of the highest per capita homicide rates in the world. Kidnappings, assaults, and robberies occur throughout the country.”

“Violent crime in Venezuela is pervasive, both in the capital, Caracas, and in the interior. The country’s overall per capita murder rate is cited as one of the top five in the world.”

“We strongly advise you not to travel within 80kms of Venezuela's border areas with Colombia, The presence of gangs and terrorist groups make the region unsuitable for travel.”

“The Avila National Park is a known target area for criminals”

“Piracy occurs in the coastal areas of Venezuela.”

We survived Venezuela; the rest of the world should be easy!  Well maybe not Egypt…

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