Daily Archives: October 7, 2011

Arrival in Caracas

Standard

Immigration isn’t really that bad, honestly. I always imagined that there would be guards interrogating you about every aspect of your trip and tearing through your bags making sure you don’t have a secret mini-cow hidden in there. When I landed in Venezuela… it was honestly just what I would expect in the United States: a bored customs official making sure that the forms look somewhat correct, and then another bored-looking official making sure that you put your bag into an x-ray machine. Not sure what they were looking for, but I didn’t have any thankfully, and so I was through the entire gauntlet in less than 20minutes.

Outside the terminal I met up with a CouchSurfing friend named Ana, after many hilariously-sitcom-ish moments of confusion about where each of us was, and who we were looking for. Once we did actually find each other we comandeered a taxi and headed into the main city to meet up with two of her friends for some late-night cookies and Ice cream. Seriously, cookies and ice cream… like the little chips-ahoy cookies, and you use them like spoons to eat vanilla ice cream… it was awesome! But before heading out to get said snacks, Ana and I hung out with her friends neighbors for an hour or so, drinking and chatting (mostly through her as a translator, thankfully). I guess her friend was getting her hair straightened, and so it was taking her a bit longer than the usual “forever” that Venezuelan women take (Ana said it, not me), but after a bit Ana’s friend Savas showed up, and we all crammed into his car and went looking for a piece of beach to hang out at.

Savas is a pretty cool dude… reminds me a lot of a friend of mine back home actually. Really laid back, amazing guitar player, and general ladies man; he spent the night alternating between rocking out and bemoaning the fact that he hadn’t hooked up with this one Colombian woman, hehe. He also has some awesome connections it seems, since he was able to hook me up with a black-market money exchange: the official rate is just about 4 BsF per dollar, but he was able to get me 8 BsF. Not bad at all, and now I feel rich (even though Venezuelan money has the same “monopoly feel” that Euros do, its kinda nice rocking nearly a grand). After changing the cash we headed to the beach for a few hours, hanging out until nearly 01:00. I even learned the basics of fishing without a rod!

How do I know it was nearly 01:00 when we left? Well, turns out that the beach is only open until 12:00, and the Policia patrol the area regularly after it closes. But remember what everyone always tells you about the cops? That you should stay away from them, don’t trust them, etc? Yeah, I’d definitely stick with that when on my own, but with Ana and Co around, the cops were actually really cool. We all hung out, chatted for a while, and finally the Policia got a call to head out somewhere else, and we had to break up the impromptu beach-party.

I finally got to sleep around 02:00 that morning, when Sava, Ana and I all crashed in his living room; a rather comfy place, I have to admit, though I’m jealous of the set-up he has: two couches, and a pair of hooks on the wall to set up a hammock from! Seriously, when I get back to a static life, I am 120% setting up hammock-anchors in my apartment!

The beginning of the trip

Standard

It’s finally started; I’m outside the borders of the United States and heading into the land of the unknown. Early this morning (criminally early, in my opinion, but that’s the price you pay) I said my goodbyes to my stepdad Steve, threw my bags into the back of my moms car, and we drove into Boston, aimed at Logan Airport. We parked, I checked in like a boss (since I knew exactly what to expect), said a tearful goodbye to my mom, and pushed my way through security and headed to the gate.

The first flight was pretty simple: I honestly just slept through 90% of it, even though I was finally seated next to some cool people instead of the usual creepy old dude. The two women next to me were in their mid-thirties I’d guess, and headed to a Bachelorette party in Cancun. Meaning that they had brought nips. Lots and lots of nips. When I finally woke back up they had dipped into their supply fairly impressively, and we spent the last 45min or so of the flight shooting the shit and chatting about nearly everything under the sun; from people being jerks and not giving up their seat to a nauseous pregnant woman who had been forced to fly facing backwards, to how amazingly impressive people who work in social work are. An interesting flight, to say the least.

At Miami we parted ways though, and I boarded my flight to Aruba. The flight itself was pretty smooth; I sat between an older woman and a dude who lives in Aruba, though I honestly spent most of the flight sleeping again, instead of chatting like my usual chattery self. After the flight landed I worked my way through the maze of customs (getting the stamp on the passport was the hardest; the actual “customs” part was literally just a dude asking me if I had corn. Seriously, that’s all he asked. Corn), and then went to get myself checked into the flight to Caracas. Normally I wouldn’t check in 7 hours ahead of time, but I had to get my bag from the baggage claim, and… man, I don’t want to lug that around. But turns out I got to anyways, since Gol Varig doesn’t allow you to check into flights more than 2 hours ahead of time. So I set an alarm on my phone, strapped my bag to my pack, and headed out to find a taxi.

I was able to find an official Taxi pretty quickly (thanks to the line of them outside the airport), and I was on my way to Eagle Beach. I chose Eagle based of a quick google search for “7 hour layover beach”, where the overwhelming majority of people said that it was the perfect combination of close-to-the-airport and awesome-beach-times. I grabbed a quick lunch at a place recommended by the taxi driver, and then headed onto the sand. Lunch was effectively a hotdog and fries, though it had a strange Dutch name, and the hotdog itself was… unique, to say the least. I don’t THINK it was dog, but I could be mistaken. Meh. It was tasty, and sitting there gave me time to call my Couchsurfing host to double-check our plans. Not complaining 🙂

The beach… wow. All I can say is that Aruba seriously is amazing for beaches, especially since Eagle beach is one of the mediocre ones in comparison to the rest of the island. The sand was that “nearly-powder” type, and the water was crisp and clear, but not freezing like New England. I set up camp with all my gear at one of the empty Cabanas, stripped down to my shorts, and hung out. I did some reading, some swimming, some gawking (seriously… I love mini-bikinis, and some of the women here were CLEARLY just strutting up and down the beach. I don’t mind at all :P), but most of the time just relaxing like I didn’t have a care in the world. Which is a lie, since I’m still nervous as hell about Caracas, but hey; if I fake not being worried hard enough, I’ll probably end up not being too worried, right? Right.

My grand adventure!!!

Standard

Now that I’m actually on my way, I figure I should put up a post about this “big trip” I’ve been working on.  Its more than a trip, it truly is a grand adventure: a trek across multiple continents, through many cultures (I hope), and meeting a ton of cool people along the way (if everything goes well).  I’m traveling around the world.

Yeah.  The world.  I spent nearly two years working in the Bio-pharma industry in Cambridge, saving and scrimping and hoarding my money so that I could afford to take a year off to travel abroad.  I’ll probably do some working on my way as well, but the main goal here to to travel as wide and far as possible, learn as much about the world as I can, and then come home safely to tell stories about it for years to come.

Right now I’m writing this from an airport in Aruba, waiting for my connecting flight to start boarding.  As of now, the main plan is as follows:

  • Caracas, Venezuela for 5 days
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina for 10 days
  • Punta Arenas, Chile for a month, broken into traveling through Patagonia, then up to Santiago for the end of October and middle of November
  • San Francisco, USA for 3 days
  • Christchurch, New Zealand for 1.5 months
  • China
  • South Asia
  • Tibet
  • Nepal
  • India
  • Turkey
  • Europe!
  • Home
I don’t know how far I’ll actually make it (at least to New Zealand, since I already have airplane tickets booked), but I’ll keep this blog as up-to-date as I can, give people travel tips, tell cool stories, and generally have an amazing time!
“Lets go on an adventure!”