I arrived here in Pamapatar on Tuesday. It’s been four days now and I’m slowly adjusting to island life while experiencing more of the realities of Venezuelan daily life. Adjusting is a whole lot easier at home when I eat well, sleep well and do yoga… I haven’t exactly been a role model of healthy living here…. Combine that with the general stress of travelling plus the added stress of travelling in Venezuela and you have me having melt down moments…
Taking flights always works out longer than you think. Caracas to Porlamar is only a forty minute flight but ended up taking up pretty much the whole day. On top of all the usual stuff like getting to the airport, checking in and so on, the flight was delayed by about an hour and a half. The owner of this apartment, Senõr Folco, who lives in Miami, had arranged for a guy named Luis to come and pick me up, for a payment of course. Supposedly Luis did come, but because the flight was delayed he didn’t want to hang around so he left. It wasn’t a big deal. I could still get a taxi on my own and get to the apartment ok, but it was just a bit of a stupid situation as I spent about 30 minutes running around the airport in Porlamar looking for Luis. Pretty much every flight here since the beginning of the aviation industry in Venezuela has been delayed… I find it a bit odd that a local Venezuelan who has lived here all his life didn’t consider that and used it as an excuse.
One of the factors in choosing this place was that it had Wi-Fi INSIDE the apartment itself. A lot of places that I researched only had Wi-Fi in the foyer area on the ground floor. As it turns out “Wi-Fi inside the apartment” means hanging out over the edge of the balcony and extending your arm as far as you can and pointing your iPhone in the direction of the lobby. Then, if you’re lucky and the weather is fine, you may catch a faint signal. I contacted Senõr Folco and expressed my dismay at 1. being stood up by Luis and 2. being misled about the internet. Senõr Folco’s response? This is Venezuela. People have it a lot worse than you. Get over it. Well, yes of course that’s true… And I’m not that inflexible that I can’t adjust. But. That’s not the freakin’ point!!!! Is it?? I had a bit of a moment with Senõr Folco… Let’s just say that it would have been easier to talk down a hired hit man than talk me down… In the end though, I really couldn’t be bothered arguing so … I built a bridge and got over it!
Things were kind of easier in Caracas. Caracas is the “golden child” of Venezuela. Whatever shortages and issues there are, Caracas tends to get spared the worst of it. Supposedly water is rationed in Caracas but I never noticed it. Staying in Los Palos Grandes meant that food and services were plentiful and everything was within a safe and convenient walking distance.
It’s a different story here in La Caranta, Pampatar. La Caranta, and in particular this building, are considered to be one of the best places to live on the island. It’s very cozy! The location at the end of the road, right out on the edge of cliff is spectacular, and the view out to the ocean takes your breath away. Plus, they have 24 hour a day maximum security. However, it comes at a bit of a price. It’s pretty isolated and cut off from everything. There is absolutely NOTHING close by. Plus, given the security situation, you can’t just go off for leisurely strolls down the road. So, I’m feeling even more like I’m under house arrest!
Water here is rationed… And I mean seriously rationed. It’s kind of weird because it’s rainy season and it rains a lot every day but still, water is rationed. And… a bottle of water costs about ten times the price of a full tank of petrol!! Anyway, the water goes on and off at different times every day. They do tell you in advance though. There is a reserve water tank but this needs to be filled manually, obviously when the town water is “on”. Once you get your head around the whole system and as long as you keep on top of it, it’s fine. But until you do, it’s a bit annoying. Murphy’s Law applies here…. The time that you find out that water is rationed and there is absolutely no water in the house or in the reserve tank is the time when you’ve just done the biggest, stinkiest, most disgusting poo of your life and there are guests in your house. I had to go begging the neighbour for a pale of water in order to sort out this issue.
The biggest nuisance in Venezuela (for a foreign tourist at least) is just the insecurity. You really take it for granted living in Australia, having the freedom to go wherever you want, whenever you want, with your valuables in hand and in any state or condition. The chances of anything bad happening are pretty slim. Different story here in Venezuela. Apparently it’s better here on the island than in Caracas but still the streets are eerily deserted after dark and people constantly warn you not to go anywhere. As a result, I’ve become a kind of meteorologist while being holed up like Rapunzel in my Punta Ballena castle, endlessly studying cloud formations!