Today is a special day. I made it to South America. I was beginning to think I was not going to get here.
Oh well, better late than never b ut I did enjoy the diversions in my travel.
What a journey: I was lazy the last few week and did not book my accomodation in Caracas a week before - this is due to it being a weekend and the locals tend to book into hotels. Anyway, Friday I spend on the phone and with travel agents trying to arrange accomodation. Nothing and Caracas is a big city with loads of hotels. Anyway, I decided to look at Merida and found one room availble and made a reservation. I then booked a flight from caracas to merida online. I received the payment confirmation but I did not receive a itinery confirmation via email. Was a bit concerned but I had proff of payment so went on. Got to Caracas and there was no reservation and they could not see any record of purchase. Only option was to buy another ticket and check with bank on Monday wether payment was actually made. This was last flight for the day and the next flight with available space was tomorrow 12pm. No hotels so will have to spend the night in the airport. So I took a bus to town, then a taxi to another bus station to catch the intercity bus.
At the final bus station, Now this is chaos in motion. No signs at the bus station to say where you need to go - luckily I asked the taxi driver and he pointed me in the right direction.
Got to ticket office and loads of stands by different companies. The company called Merida Transport does not go to Merida.
Anyway after asking around found the right one Flamingo. Bought the ticket and went to the departure lounge. Definately not a lounge. It looked like a market on a late saturday morning. It was packed with people and again no signs - well it had signs for the gate numbers but not which bus departs from which stand.
I watched some people go into some of the stands and board busses so I asked at the stands and they all pointed me to the longest queue.
Anyway followed the longest queue and when we reach the gate there is no que. everyone just scrambles in all the available space to try to give the one person taking tickets a stub to let you through.
OK that was not bad once I past it but that lead on to where all the buses parked.
Find my bus. My bus departs at 7:45 and I am there at 7:20 and I cant find the bus. I ask every official - guy carrying the clip board with bus schedules but they dont know. they or just wait here it should be round soon.
No screens with departure info so I ended walking up and down looking at each bus and everytime a bus departed and a new one arrived I ran to check. now rememeber I have a 20 KG racksac on my back and a 6kg overnight bag in my hand there are 20 bus stands and all are full with buses And the people are just everywhere.
Even inbetween the buses - there is a space of about 2 feet between the busses and the people stand there and the buses leave and depart while people are standing there between the buses.
Oh, there was this lady I asked for info - a local fellow passenger. She was going to Maracaibo and I was going to Merida but with my bad pronounciation I think she mis understood. anyway her bus was leaving at 7:45 as well. About 7:40 I see here running around looking for something or someone. I assumed it might be me she was looking for and was right. She said come quick (in spanish of course) the bus is leaving from across the road. I run with her dodging racing buses and taxis and then get to the bus to see it says maraciabo. Ah well, her sentiments where good.
Anyway my bus arrives at 7:55 and starts to load and departs an hour late.
And I stand with my bags between the buses and the bus ont he other side starts to move. I got no where to go and the chassis of the bus is rubbing against me and the other pssengers. looking around I was the only botthered by it!!!
My feet intact got on the bus and ready for the ... wait for it... 12 hour ride. Well it is a comfy bus with reclining seats and air-con on overdrive. Oh my seat was just above the stairs so no seat behind me and my seat reclined all the way down 180. while waiting for the bus to load it was absolutely comfortable but when the bus started to move -even on the highway- i felt abit sick in the stamach. raising the seat sorted the problem so not mcuh sense in that.
Ah well, what can I say about a 12 hour bus ride - you have to try it once.