sin ropas

The building across from my window is 12 stories tall. At no time during my stay here have I seen more than a dozen people working on its construction. Folks do work there… there’s a boy of about 8 on the bottom floor right now breaking brick with his hands, and two men standing on the 6th floor. There’s also a foreman, who sits at a table on the ground level and apparently doesn’t do anything else. On the second floor is a group of four young children drying clothing on one of the balconies. A sign on the front gate of the building says “Personal completo”, which I think means they have a full staff.

I was told that this building has been under construction for 1 1/2 years. It looks like it has at least that long to go.

At the start of our second day in Caracas, Jeanne still hasn’t recieved her clothing from Air Aruba. Last night she washed her single blue dress in the hotel sink, and afterwards tried to dry it in the shower. As of this morning it still hadn’t dried, however, so Shay and I were led by a hotel bellboy to a laundromat, which managed to dry the dress by 9:30 so that Jeanne could join us for breakfast.

kids on a construction site

Early this morning Jeanne called me and said “Ron, I’m wondering what John’s motive is. I don’t think we should leave the hotel with him.” Apparently, Jeanne had woken up at 6:30am in a cold sweat worrying that John was some sort of ex-pat scam artist looking to rip us off. I understood how she felt. In the U.S., especially in San Francisco, people rarely go out of their way to help you without wanting something in return. I’d wondered whether John was up to no good, and I’d decided to trust him. I believe that if you travel paranoid, you may miss out on some amazing friendships and opportunities. Granted, you may get ripped off, but I believe the risk is worth the reward. Do your own math.

Before John came by this morning, I called his office in Sausalito (+1 415-331-0100) and the answering machine announced the Venezuelan Tourism Association and gave instructions for obtaining John’s book. When John came by, he also had a marked-up copy of the next edition of his book. He gave the copy to us, and it was filled with hand-written corrections. (This is very cool. It’s fascinating to see an author’s notes.)

John’s friend Arnaldo Morales came by just before John arrived. Arnaldo is a representative of Bernal Tours. Many guidebooks list the Bernal camp as the best place to stay in Canaima (the departure point for Salto Angel, or Angel Falls.) Arnaldo talked us through what’s involved in the tour, and we’ll probably be going as soon as Jeanne’s luggage arrives.

There are three places we’ve decided that we want to visit while waiting for our vans in Venezuela. The first is Salto Angel, of course. Every guide book says it’s a ‘must-see’ for Venezuela. The second is Mérida, a university town in the Venezuelan Andes. Both John and Arnaldo waxed poetic about how beautiful Mérida is, and how it would be very easy to spend a week there.

Following Mérida we will probably go directly to Puerto Cabello where our vans should be delivered. We’ve been repeatedly advised to be at the yard when the seals are broken on the shipping containers and to inspect unpacking of our vehicles.

Jahan has confirmed that the vehicles will be delivered a week late. He worked very hard with U.S. Customs to obtain a waiver allowing the containers to be placed onto the ship, but he was unsuccessful. Though there was some foul-up with the shipping, I have to give APL credit for trying to make it right.

Hopefully Jeanne will get her luggage today, and tomorrow we’ll be on our way to Salto Angel followed by Mérida. And hopefully our vans will be delivered on time. I’m having a hard time just going with the flow on this stuff, but hopefully I’ll learn.

Update: Jeanne’s luggage has arrived, and tomorrow we’re going down to the coast for the weekend. We’ll head out to Salto Angel on Monday.


What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.