Big night out on Saturday with about 20 other people from my hostel. I was glad I didn't go for the 2 hour 'all you can drink' dinner before hand because when most people were pretty smashed before we even got in the cabs. Sunday was definitely a day of rest. I didn't leave my bed til well after noon which was fine because Sunday's are ridiculously quiet here. I walked around the old quarter to some of my old haunts and then headed down through Ejido Park to El Mariscal, the new town, to grab some dinner and kill some time on Internet. On Monday I finally sucked it up and made the decision to head to Venezuela instead of Columbia. Long story and an even longer list of pros and cons. I picked up my ticket and then headed off to Ipales market in the old town to try and find some cheap flip flops as the ones my mom gave me in Peru are a few millimeters away from being binned. I found a great seafood cafeteria style place that offered a big bowl of shrimp ceviche for $4. And it included a bowl of popcorn for free. Let's just say I was in heaven.
One more day to kill before my early morning flight to Venezuela. My taxi didn't show up but thankfully I'd requested it to come much earlier than was necessary and I was able to flag one down a few blocks away. Arriving in Caracas seemed easy enough. I floated through customs and found my way to the tourist desk. Then I spent about 45 minutes arguing with about 7 different bank machines. none of them wanted to give me any money and kept giving me cryptic error messages. So frustrating. I finally found one that worked with my card and headed to catch the bus into town. I hopped from the bus to their really nice metro system and exited at Plaza Venezuela where I came up above ground in the middle of a crowded street market. There were people selling things on every square inch of sidewalk. I walked through as quickly as I could and made it to the door of my hostel which conveniently enough, also rents rooms by the hour!No worries, the place was clean and the managers were really nice and helpful even if they were all gloom and doom about being careful and advising against going outside at night. I decided to heed to their advice about half an hour later as we all watched two drugged up guys circled each other, preparing to fight a few meters from our front door. Even more so when two police cars drove by not caring what they were up to. Ok, off to bed it is.
I spent the next morning walking around the downtown area where the sidewalks were lined with even more stalls. I wound my way through them over to check out the Simon Bolivar Plaza and then onto the Bolivar Museum. I was a little nervous walking around after all the warnings I'd been given but the other option is just staying inside your hotel room, right. Caracas has a great feeling of the old and the new all muddled up together as gorgeous old buildings will be flanked on either side by new boxy edifices. Back on the metro to my neck of the woods and long walk down the street market until I found a bus to El Hatillo, a small quaint suburb, such a contrast to Caracas. Almost every door around the main square is an artisan shop or a restaurant and they all are painted all different and vivid colors. It made a nice escape but I couldn't stay very long as I needed to get back to my hostel well before dark.
Another early night and an early morning to catch the bus to Santa Fe, a small fishing village in the northeast about 45 minutes from Puerto del la Cruz. The buses here are as nice or maybe nicer than those in Argentina, which is saying a lot. For the last 45 minutes the bus driver let me sit in the front passenger seat so I could hop out quickly. It was a great view on a winding road hugging the coast. The day was clear and you could see all the different islands just off the coast. I walked through the small town until I found the beach and checked into a small hostel. There aren't many tourists here and there doesn't seem to be much to do except sit and enjoy the water and sun. I was hoping to do a little scuba diving here but I've been told there just aren't enough people right now to make it worthwhile to the dive shops. So I've got to get myself into beach mode. Tough life I lead.