1. the bus ride (or welcome to the developing world, gringo) PART 1

Prior to leaving for Caracas we had been informed that the major road connecting the airport to the actual city had been condemned. Reports were that rain erosion and lack of maintenance were the cause. So, one member of our group (I’ll call him the Negotiator) who is familiar with Venezuela informed us that the ride from the airport might be some 5 hours long. Ugh, we all sighed.

Here I must stop and give some positive remarks about how Venezuela and the World Social Forum people handled foreign visitors. After landing in Caracas, we headed to Immigration. The agent was polite and quick as she whisked all 6 of us through in less than 10 minutes. From there a WSF volunteer guided us around Customs–I mean that literally, we walked right around the Customs people rather than having to deal with them. Awesome! We were also helped in getting local currency and were provided a free ride from the airport to the city.

Back to the bus. Now, I consider myself pretty well read and knowledgable about the world, but nothing prepared me for the sights and sounds of the road to Caracas. First, a little geography. Caracas sits in a little mountainous region in northern Venezuela. Using Google Earth, I observed that the airport is on the coast and that our ride would be UP into the mountains of Venezuela. Well, Google Earth was right on the money.

Immediately then, this bus ride is one going uphill on narrow roads with hellacious traffic. Anyone who has ever driven up a mountain knows that the roads twist and turn and you find yourself staring down at incredible precipices right out the windows. Wow. It was scary as shit for some time. Now, imagine this driving task with almost no-rules barred traffic going on all around you. There is no dividing line between lanes, hence no indication of when one should pass and when one should not. People on motorcycles weaving in and out of traffic, basically ignoring things as basic as direction of traffic. When our bus was stopped in traffic motorcycles just passed on by, hell when our bus was moving too slow they would be weaving past us and oncoming traffic. It was crazy.

Damn, gotta bail from this machine. I will write more on this in a few hours.

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