Never, never, never give up. — Winston Churchill
Today started badly. Really badly. I was feeling really depressed about being here without my van, about the vans being delayed a week, and about the cost of the hotel. Caracas is ugly and frenetic, and I didn’t want to be here. I felt that I’d screwed up the entire trip before it even began, and I wanted to call Miami, have the van taken off of the boat, and fly back home to the loving and safe arms of my boyfriend.
I spoke with Jeanne about how I was feeling. I told her I felt really bad and that I wanted to go home. She told me very firmly that she’d been pissed at me for alienating some folks who were involved in planning the trip, such as Oliver Sawtelle and Larry Calhoun. (Actually, I don’t feel much guilt here, but I’m not going to go into that.) She told me she was pissed off, but that was in the past. She told me she really liked me, or she wouldn’t be on this trip with me. Then I told Jeanne what scared me the most.
The thing that scares me the most, more than getting a hugely fat ass from driving all the time or burrowing insects laying eggs under my skin, is that I’ll alienate my companions on the trip and lose their friendship. At least twice in the past, I’ve lost my entire circle of friends, and each time it was so horrible that I wanted to die.
The first time I understand what happened. I was in love with my best friend, John Maclachlan. We were both in college. He was a wonderful, innocent, open and loving friend. He was also the first boy I ever fell for, and I fell hard. Unfortunately he’s straight, and though he tried to make it work, I kept getting more and more depressed about my unrequitted love. I was young and stupid and believed that we could ‘make it work.’ My endless depression ended up driving him and almost all of my friends away. (I have a few friends who stuck with me through those rough times, and I love them for it. They’ve seen me at my worst and stuck with me.)
The most recent time was with a Vanagon camping club called the ‘California Camping Crazies’. We would get together, camp, drink, and burn magnesium engines. Then one campout a Canadian girl got upset by someone burning plastic in the campfire. I asked folks to stop, and broke some sort of unwritten code. I enjoyed camping with these folks, and they stopped inviting me to their campouts. (It was more complicated than this, but I still don’t really understand what happened.)
The painful thing about these blow-ups is that I genuinely try to be a nice guy. I try very hard to be a good human being, there when my friends need me. What hurts the most is feeling that I’ve failed… that I’m self-centered, obnoxious, and that people don’t like me. Low self-esteem runs in my family, and it’s easy to spiral into a pit of self-loathing. My boyfriend Dan’s unconditional love and unwillingness to tolerate my self-delusion has been a lifeline that I’ve used often to pull myself out of these funks.
That’s why part of me wanted to make this trip alone. I love having friends. I love getting to know other people really well and being there when they need me. But I’m so afraid of being rejected by people I’ve come to love.
So this morning I cried and whined (breaking my own rule) and Jeanne hugged me and promised that we would work things out and that she wouldn’t give up on me. And after crying for a while, I felt better.
After my therapy session with Jeanne, we each went off on private errands. Jeanne, whose clothing is (even now, the night after she arrived) is vacationing in Aruba, went to find temporary clothing for Shay and herself. Tyler went to find the Brasilian embassy to get his visa. And I went to the Touring y Automovil Club de Venezuela, to scope out what was necessary to get a Libreta de Paso por Aduanas.
The libreta is a small booklet that is a sort of bond guaranteeing that when you enter a country with a car, you will take the car out of the country again. Only some countries require it, and there’s some controversy about whether it’s required anywhere. In any case, it costs about $300, half of which is refundable if the libreta is returned to the TACV properly filled in.
The TACV requires the following to get a libreta:
- A copy of your passport
- A copy of your title
- 3 passport photos
- An entry certificate for the vehicle
We have everything but the last item, since the vehicles haven’t entered the country yet. We’re thinking of trying to use the shipping documentation when Laura (of DMY Forwarding Company) overnights it to us from Miami. If we can do this, then we’ll have a head start on obtaining the libretas. Otherwise, we may try to make the trip without them. Worse case, this may require some border bribes. (Well, *really* worse case is that they won’t allow us into the country. But that’s pretty unlikely.)
Actually getting out into the city and doing something improved my mood incredibly, and I returned to the hotel feeling a lot better. Jeanne was waiting for me with good news.
At the internet cafe across the street, she met a gentleman from San Francisco who now runs the Venezuelan Tourism Association. He wrote a really wonderful book (“Travel Planner for Venezuela” by John Benus) explaining how to survive in Venezuela, and he was going to meet us for dinner and give us some tips.
John Benus came to the hotel promptly at 8 pm. After talking for a bit, we went out to dinner with him at a very nice italian place called ‘Restaurante da Guido’ on Boulevard Sabana Grande. Over dinner we spoke about what he suggested we do with our time while waiting for the vans to arrive. (Canaima & Angel Falls, Mérida, and Puerto Cruz.) He especially loves Mérida, and strongly suggested that we spend a week there.