Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Barquisimeto and Coro

While I was in Merida I met an English guy named Jonathan who I’d actually had a 10 minute conversation with while waiting for a tour at a hostel in Medellin. After working out where we met, we naturally talked about we we’d been since then and where we were going next. He was going to Coro in the north. I didn’t know anything about this city but I looked it up and then I wanted to go there too.

After the los Llanos tour, I told Juan (the guide) that I was going to Coro next, and would it be better to go back to Merida or get a bus from Barinas? He said get a bus from Barinas to Barquisimeto, which would take about four hours and then change for Coro, which is like two hours. Easy.

No.

Getting to Barquisimeto was fine and it took four hours. However, when I arrived at about 4.30pm there was no bus to Coro until 10pm. Furthermore, the journey is about seven hours, not two. So I stood around wondering what to do. I didn’t really want to wait five hours in a bus station that all the ticket guys told me was really dangerous (they made shooting hand signs!) Then a por puesto guy approached me. He told me it would be 350 bolivars to go in his 80s style car. I thought this was for the whole car and said no. So he went off to find some more passengers and 20 minutes later I get ushered down some alley at the back of the bus station to the 80s car where three other women are ready to go. I ask how much it is again and it’s still 350 bolivars. I said I didn’t want to pay that much (knowing the bus was about half that) and that I though 350 was for the whole car. They all got really angry at me cos it meant they would have to find someone else before they could leave. So I apologised and said I’d get the bus and got my luggage out of the boot. By this stage they were all yelling at me in Spanish and I ran off hoping not get robbed getting out of the dodgy alley.

But so what? People rip me off and tell me lies all the time over here and I am constantly thinking on my feet. In Spanish. I don’t get mad at them when things don’t work out for me. I take a deep breath, sequester my anger and vent it here, in my blog, for your amusement instead.

Also (what I hadn’t thought about until after) is the car would have arrived at about midnight and I did not have any accommodation booked, so that would have caused a problem when I got there. So now I had to decide whether to wait five hours for the night bus (and possibly get shot if the ticket guys were to be believed) or get the other bus at 8.30am the next morning. I decided to stay the night. I asked the cabbie to take me to a posada in a safe and touristy area. I was quite clear about this. So instead he took me to a dodgy (and possibly red light) area near the bus station and where there was nothing touristy as far as the eye could see. The posada was fine even though reception was fully behind bars. They even passed you cold water through a little hatch. I asked the woman if it was safe then (about 5pm) to walk around for some food and she said yes but get back before dark. However, the streets looked well dodgy and I didn’t want to be outside anyway. I didn’t take any photos for fear that my camera would be stolen. Anyway, I found a guy selling some fruit, bought some, and headed back to the safety of my room.

At 9pm I decided to look out the window to see what I could see. 

Hookers! 

One of them was just wearing a thong with her very low cut top. Well I suppose it’s good to advertise what you are selling. 

Oh yeah, I'm feeling really safe now. I can see why the attendant told me not to go outside. I double checked my door was locked.

At 6am when I woke up there was still a hooker working that corner. Seriously, who is trawling the streets for sex at 6am on a Sunday?

Anyway, at 7am I went back to the bus station, got my ticket and off I went to Coro. I’m sure there were some nice areas of Barquisimeto but I didn’t get to see any of them.

The bus to Coro took like seven hours. I arrived mid afternoon and headed to a posada I found on the internet that said it had dorms. It didn’t and I had to take a private room, which was annoying. Then I went in search of some food. NOTHING was open except one café type place where I managed to get some bread, which was then my dinner. Woo, dry bread!

The next morning, I saw an Asian girl having breakfast and reading the South American Lonely Planet. We started chatting and her name is Yuna. She became me travelling buddy for the next week or so. We started off by moving into the same room to cut our accommodation costs. After breakfast we went exploring. It was so hot but the old town in Coro is really nice. 






More Chavez love. Despite the fact the election he won was in 2012 and Maduro's election was 2013, no campaign materials have been removed. If this happened in Australia, there'd be a riot and the people would take to the streets ripping this shit down. No one wants to look at politicians more than necessary.



Anyway, one of mine and Yuna's conversations was about how everyone in Venezuela thinks I’m German and thinks she’s Japanese or Chinese. When she says Korean they are ask her North or South. Really??? When has anyone EVER met a North Korean? They aren’t allowed out.

We went to lunch at Coro’s one and only vegetarian restaurant and the guy that works there is like “German? Japanese?” Oh how we laughed.

Hmm, I think these dogs are having a party...



Shit cars of the day.




In the afternoon after the heat had died down to a bearable level, we found a local bus that went past Coro’s second tourist attraction (the old town being the first) - the sand dunes! Everyone on the bus looked at us. They probably thought why is there a German woman and Japanese woman on our bus? I’ll tell you why. It was really cheap. Local buses cost five bolivars, which is like 20c. Plus local buses are always more interesting if you aren’t in a hurry (cos there’s always a slight chance you’re on the wrong bus since bus drivers sometimes lie to get you on the bus to get your money) and/or that it might break down at any moment cos they are SO shit. This time, neither happened. Additionally, some guy learning English spoke to us cos he wanted to know where we were from cos we didn’t sound American but we were speaking English. I guess they pretty much learn American English from tv so other English speakers intrigue them a bit.

Anyway, we got to sand dunes and it was surprisingly excellent considering it was just sand.







 



Obligatory crawling through the sand searching for water photos.



It was dark by the time we headed back and there were no buses. Then as we were about to get a taxi we saw a bus coming and hailed it. It turned out to be a school bus full of uni students. But it was cool and they were nice to us and told us when we needed to get off since we didn’t know where we were. Plus we didn’t have to pay, which was a bonus.

The next day Yuna said she wanted to get an overnight bus to Caracas to then go to Colonia Tovar, Venezuela’s one and only German town. The German’s I’d met on the Catatumbo lightning tour had talked about this place and thought it was funny that no Germans actually lived there. I hadn’t really given this place any thought but since Yuna said she was going, I decided that I would go with her. 

We headed to the bus station to try and buy some night bus tickets. There are two ways into Colonia Tovar, via Caracas and Maracay. However, all overnight buses to either city were sold out so that wasn’t happening. Instead we decided to get an afternoon bus to Valencia, and then change for Maracay and stay there. We headed back into town, went to the veggie restaurant, where I stocked up on vegan empanadas for my dinner on the bus, then checked out of the posada.

Next stop: Maracay and Colonia Tovar.

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