I only spent the past 15 hours or so here, just to make a transfer to head out to LA (via Houston). And after all the horror stories I had been hearing about Caracas, I have to admit to being overly worried about my safety. And while it is true one needs to be careful and there is tight security in a lot of areas, everything was fine. And while I can’t say at all that I have seen anything that a regular tourist would here in Caracas, here are some of my impressions:
– On the flight in, they made this weird announcement about having to spray the cabin with a “non toxic” pesticide. They then proceeded to open all of the overhead compartments and spray everything, making the cabin reek of it for a few minutes.
– The coastline of Venezuela (seen through my plane window) is absolutely spectacular looking.
– Getting through customs and passport control, which I had been warned about, was actually a breeze. Sure they asked me a bunch of questions, but honestly I have had a much harder time getting into the UK.
– Thanks to my friend Daniel and his family, I got picked up at the airport and dropped off at my hotel by this really nice guy named Richard (that is a real name here btw, pronounced Reeshar). He told me how many great things there are to see in Venezuela, and apologized that his country was not in better shape to visit at the moment, with evident sadness.
– Coming back to the airport this morning, I likewise expected mayhem with exit visas and taxes and forms, but it was a breeze, probably made easier by the United reps who seemed to take care of a lot of it for me at their counter. One little oddity was a small price discrepancy on my ticket, for which they wanted me to pay the equivalent of four US dollars in bolivars, but I didn’t have any bolivars, so they let it slide.
– And not really related to Caracas at all, I found out this morning that someone in Bogota (most likely one of the airport stands, but possibly the hotel) lifted my card info and tried to charge thousands of dollars at Sephora (which is odd, it seems like credit card fraud often goes through Sephora for some reason). Chase caught it and sent me a message and I called them this morning to cancel my card. They will send me a new one in LA.