In the past three or so weeks I have spent in Venezuela I have done a fair bit of traveling. I arrived from Canada by air but have spent many hours since in buses, taxis, and various other random vehicles. Some of my most memorable and entertaining moments have occurred while moving from one place to another.
Gasoline is very cheap in Venezuela (although gas station line ups can be kilometers long) so people seem to have very little incentive to save gas. For example, it is not uncommon for taxi drivers to stop randomly wherever they want and leave the car running while they get an empanada, go to the bathroom, or chat with their colleagues. On our way back from Brazil our taxi driver seemed to be running low on gas, but instead of going to a gas station he veered off of the main road into what seemed like someone’s yard. We waited a few minutes until a woman emerged with a jug of gasoline which she poured into our tank while the engine was still running. It is also very easy to find people to share rides with here, and cabs rarely operate without all their seats filled, making journeys especially interesting. Taxis here are clearly not a regulated service as they are in Canada, but I have (mostly) enjoyed their creative and unpredictable nature.
In addition to taxis, I have also spent a fair amount of time here on buses. They range from quite fancy double-decker units to bare-bones buses which are really more like vans with benches in the middle. I was fortunate to take a fancier bus on my 21 hour journey to Santa Elena, and I spent roughly 5 of those hours imagining that I was on the Spice Bus from the movie ‘Spice World’, except instead of Victoria Beckham singing in my ear I had several Venezuelan men enthusiastically singing aloud to different songs being played from their cell phones. These buses are intensely air conditioned and it would be a mistake to get on one without warm clothes and blankets. However, it is also a bit of a mistake to bundle yourself and take a perhaps ambitious number of sleeping pills only to wake up 12 hours later drenched in sweat because at some point during your slumber the Spice Bus air conditioning had stopped working (this may have happened to me, I honestly thought I had had an accident-that’s how sweaty I was). Another word of advice for the tall or lanky individuals out there- do not try to jam your legs into a window-seat on one of the smaller buses, nobody wins when your bony knees are literally stuck into the back of the seat in front of you.
I hope that this post doesn’t come off as too negative or whiny. I really have enjoyed the quirks of traveling within Venezuela and although unpredictable at times, the journeys I have taken here have been generally pleasant and very memorable (here’s hoping our good fortune continues as we make our way to Angel Falls this weekend!)