stalled in caracas

We’d hoped to be in Mérida by now, relaxing in the cooler air of the Andes and sipping martinis, but it hasn’t happened. We received a note from our shipping agent asking us if we’d obtained a vehicle import permit from the Venezuelan Consulate in Miami, and we hadn’t.

This was hugely discouraging. We didn’t need another setback. Jeanne, who had quit just a week earlier, started chain-smoking. Shipping has been a huge problem for us, though I have to say we’ve learned a lot. Things that we’ve learned:

  1. If you use DMY Forwarding Company of Miami (and they’ve been very good for us) then listen to their recommendations for a shipping company. They recommended Seaboard to us, but go with whomever they recommend.
  2. Show up a few days before your forwarding company says that they need the van. I don’t particularly like Miami, but you may need to do things (such as visit the consulate) before handing all of your paperwork to your forwarding agent.
  3. At the Venezuelan consulate (in Miami) you’ll need to get a permit to bring the vehicle into Venezuela. Your forwarding company should be able to give you advice on this. (Ours did, but we thought it was only important for the Libretta. It isn’t.)
  4. The Libretta (which facilitates border crossings) costs a mere $250, some of which you can get back. Get one. You’ll need originals or realistic copies of your registration and title. You’ll need your passport. You’ll also need two passport photos. Lastly, you’ll need the ‘revisión de transito’, which is the customs document allowing the vehicle into the country.It can take 3 days to get a Libretta, and you probably don’t want to spend as much time in Caracas as we have. It is possible to fill out everything in advance except the ‘revisiÛn de transito’. The nice ladies at the Touring Y Automovil Club de Venezuela will prepare your Libretta and give it to you immediately when you show up with the ‘revisión’.The Touring Y Automovil Club de Venezuela is located near Plaza Venezuela, on the 15th floor of a building with a huge ‘Phillips’ sign on top facing in all directions.
  5. Expect difficulties. I think think that things would be simpler a second time around, but I also expect that there would still be problems. It’s the nature of things down here in South America.

We don’t know what awaits us in Puerto Cabello, when we pick up the vans. I think it’s wildly optimistic that we’ll pull them out of the shipping containers and drive happily away. I’m hoping that it won’t take more than a full day, but who knows?

In any case we’re going to have to go a little faster to try to keep on schedule. The plan has us leaving Caracas on 1 octubre, and we most likely won’t make that date. If so, I’d still like to have a few ‘slop’ days in case we have a break-down or decide to stay an extra day somewhere. We have to be in Rio by 20 Noviembre. I have a date there with my boyfriend, and I’m not going to stand him up. We will celebrate Indigenous People’s Day (Thanksgiving) in Ubatuba, and we have reservations at Foz do Iguaçu shortly afterwards.

Tyler took Lariam (and anti-malarial) for two weeks in a row and started hallucinating. He saw images on the insides of his eyes and a corona in his eyesight. He also felt emotionally disconnected. Hopefully once we need to really start taking our anti-malarials, it will not affect his driving. (I took it once as a test and it had no noticeable effect on me.)

Tomorrow we’re finally going to Mérida. We’ll be there for about 5 days before going to Puerto Cabello, where we’ll (hopefully) have our vans again. They’re our ties to home, and without them I think we’re all feeling a bit adrift.


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