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End of the Trip - Trying to Leave Venezuela

The last week volunteering passed quite quickly. We built the playground replacement wood pieces, and started painting, but weren't able to finish the job before leaving. Raining 2-3 times a day is lousy paint drying weather. I was sick as a dog for a couple days in the middle, and then we had to leave in a bit of a hurry to take the short but scary flight to Ciudad Bolivar on Friday. It was an abrupt departure, but we were looking forward to real, hot water, and not being damp all the time.

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Such would have to wait a few more days however. There were 4 posadas in Ciudad Bolivar - and we chose to stay in Bolivar instead of Puerto Ordaz, an hour to the east where our Monday flight left since Ciudad Bolivar actually has a history, and architecture we could see walking around. All 4 posadas are run by Germans, and we started with Pieter's posada, a lovely bit of paradise outside of town, cute cabins, a pool, grass one could walk on bare foot, and nicely outside of town for New Year's eve. It was also, however, a jail. A formidable fence surrounds the compound, and we had to be let in and out to simply take a walk. The food was decent, but not very veg friendly, and after a night we fled to Posada Don Carlos, in the heart of the historical district, reasoning that after the phenomenal amount of fire works we could hear at midnight, that for the rest of the weekend, the city would be nice, quiet, and hung over; assuming there was anything left standing.

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Don Carlos is a nice, big old mansion which Martin had spent 2 years and a lot of money restoring into a guest house. We got an inner room, which was great for being quiet, but not so good for air flow. Room temperature ranged from 80F to 85F, and the fan was on most of the time. The city was indeed quite dead, and Martin's cook was on holiday, so we had to scrounge at the one or two shops we could find for edibles to cook dinner. We combined forces with Kourt, (pronounced more like Kurt), a Dutch fellow here with, he claimed, his girlfriend Melanie. For 2 dinners Kourt would dissappear into his room with a plate of food, claim that Melanie ate it, and reappear again. Eventually she did turn out to exist, and was indeed quite ill, poor girl, but we were wondering for a while.

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Monday we took a shared taxi to the airport - bad plan since the bus would have been faster since the taxi broke (bad alternator, flat battery, and a mistaken replacement of the started solenoid in the process). We had tickets for 6pm on Aserca, and asked to change to the 11:40 flight. They said fine, and re-issued tickets. This was 10am, so we got some breakfast, and then I suddenly noticed that the ticket had a boarding time of 7:50 am! Ran back to the counter to see what the heck was up with this, and found that we were really waiting for the 08:40 flight which was 3 hours late. But, dammit it was the 08:40 flight with 07:50 boarding no matter what time it really left. In fact, it left amazingly close to the 11:40 time. Glad we didn't show up earlier.

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Monday we took a shared taxi to the airport - bad plan since the bus would have been faster since the taxi broke (bad alternator, flat battery, and a mistaken replacement of the started solenoid in the process). We had tickets for 6pm on Aserca, and asked to change to the 11:40 flight. They said fine, and re-issued tickets. This was 10am, so we got some breakfast, and then I suddenly noticed that the ticket had a boarding time of 7:50 am! Ran back to the counter to see what the heck was up with this, and found that we were really waiting for the 08:40 flight which was 3 hours late. But, dammit it was the 08:40 flight with 07:50 boarding no matter what time it really left. In fact, it left amazingly close to the 11:40 time. Glad we didn't show up earlier.

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So what's the short looking back have to say? It was a good trip, no question, even though the last 4 days were a bit of a bust. But it wasn't overly inspiring, and we don't feel any need to go back. Venezuela is quite European on the outside - flush toilets, lots of cars, European gadgets for those who can affford them. But the culture is pure South American. I never remember feeling in SE Asia, so much like I just wanted to just curl up in the hammock and take a nap for most of every afternoon. This atmosphere seems to be a large part of the "Manana" culture (tomorrow, it will happen tomorrow....), which aids and afflicts all things Venezuelan. It's curious that SE asia, with a pretty similar amount of heat and humidity, doesn't have this lackadaisical atmosphere, with the associated lack of inspiration, perspiration and concentration. This can be good for enforcing relaxation on those of us who don't slow down easily... but can also be infuriating if you actually want to get anything done today, not tomorrow.

So enough of manana temp, time to go back to work, where eveytying is "Ayer!!" (Yesterday! we need that Yesterday!)

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