Su Family Trip to the Americas & Village travel blog

Best thing in Colombia - Juicy Smoothie & Coffee Expresso

Wasteland near the border b/w Colombia & Venezuela

Soldiers X-ray our luggages at one of the many checkpoint at 12AM

The kids fell asleep with hunger drooling


Originally, we were planning to stay in Santa Marta for snorkeling and swimming either one or two days more, then find buses to Venezula Friday, or Sat. However, we found out that literally, most of South America shuts down for Easter, especially good Friday. Even the supermarkets are closed. Good Friday is a special day. We had to make a decision: either stay in Colombia until buses resumes Monday, which will delay our schedule, or pack up right away and take a night bus leaving Wed noon. It would be hard and risky to do three to four local legs on the days we would like, so we chose to take a direct night bus from Santa Marta to Valencia, Venezula. We only had one hour to pack, get money from ATM, and buy the tickets! But we made it!

We believe that Father has His reasons for change of plans. Indeed, He already provided many angels of mercy along the way. Things are really tense in Venezula. The moment we crossed the Colombian border into Venezula, a thick blanket of heaviness enclosed. The border guards took their time to check every single item in every luggage the bus before us. It took more than an hour. If they did that with our bus, we would be there until midnight! It was already 8:30pm. We petitioned to Dad for mercy. Indeed, Father answered. The guards quickly just stuck their hand into our backpacks and out, didn't bother to ask us to remove and repack anything, the same for most of the people in our bus. We were done in less than 15 mintues!

15 minutes down the road, our bus stopped again. More border guards. This time they check our passports, then asked us to remove our luggage to be x-rayed on a truck at the side of the road! It was only then did we realize none of the foreigners on the bus were told we had to get our passports stamped at the first border we just left. We give thanks that a German girl spoke Spanish fluently and translated for us. They hitch hiked to and back from the border to get the pass ports stamped. We give thanks that Father has provided time and time again kind people with bilingual ability to help us out.

We only had a small lunch and by 9PM, the kids were really hungry. I am thankful however that they experience what is hunger, as often they don`t finish their dinner at home. This trip, they eat madly and in great quantity as we never know when we`ll have our next meal. Due to the delays, the bus didn`t stop for dinner until 2AM. By the time, the kids were asleeped. Olivia said she counted all the different food she liked, avocado with soy sauce, salmon sashimi, rice noodle, etc, as she fell asleep. For the first time, Olivia experienced the feeling of drooling when she thought of food. Nathan slept and drool onto the bus seat. (see picture)

Recommendation:

1) To get to Venezuela directly, without switching buses at different towns, you can take either Brasillia or Expresos Amerlujo. We took that latter one and the seats were one of the most comfortable one we had and there was good discount for children between 2 and 15 years old - 50% off. We only needed to purchase 4 seats as Joani was small and the bus company was okay with her not buying a seat. The cost of bus ticket from Santa Marta to Valencia (from 12PM to 5AM next day) is 135,000 Pesos for adult.

2) The best drink the kids ever had were the juicy smoothie. You can choose among a wide varieties of tropical fruit. One fruit we never tasted before is called Zapote, which tastes like papaya and persimnon combined. Cost is 2000 Pesos.

3) Due to Venezuela`s currency not circulated freely outside of the country, there is a large difference between official exchange rate at the bank and on the street. Currently, the rate at the bank is 2.1 Bolivar/USD and at the street is around 3.7 Bolivar. I exchanged a little money at the border for 3.75 Bolivar. In Valencia, I was only able to get 3.5 Bolivar.



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