11 o’clock. Time to cast off. After an Indian explained us – as politely and firmly as Indians explain things – that we are not welcomed at the Marina and should get the fuck out with our group, we walked to the nearby fishing village. Beside me only Venezuelans boarded on the boat, all looking kind of privileged. Well, jet set.
As we were docking at the fishing village a half naked rastaman came jumping towards us, waving charmingly with his machete, screaming, cursing, showing that we are not welcome here either. I felt like within a group of refugees. Hate coming towards us from everywhere, no place to be and on top of all that: this boat. I don’t really wanna call it boat since it was so small and full of holes, but it had at least three outboard motors pushing it. We were going in a convoy of two boats, one with raincover and one without although the raincover was just a plastic sheet nailed to wooden poles. I was a little surprised to see together six outboard engines for just a 70 km crossing but I favoured the theory that most of the engines were extras if the others break. After all we were crossing the channel between Trinidad and Venezuela and the ocean could get rough!
I was wrong with my theory. The three engines were used to bomb us towards Venezuela with maximum speed. They were incredibly noisy all together. Still, the cruise was nice. I somehow fell in love with the Venezuelan coast. High on the cliffs the jungle was majestically reaching for the sky, besides some fishing villages and two industrial sites there was nothing but wild beaches, palms and jungle.
To my further amusement we picked up a hitchhiker on the way. A fishing boy waving at us with his shirt. We turned from our way, headed towards the coast and picked him up. Picking up a hitchhiker here, in the middle of the abandoned jungle coastline, between Venezuela and Trinitad? Awesome! My passion was knocking. Finally: Awaiting Venezuela mainland. Putting my twitchy legs on land. Hitchhiking again, after two months on the sea. And it was supposed to work really well according to Hitchwiki. Especially pick-up trucks. I had really been looking forward to that. Couldn´t wait. the whole continent would open itself up for me, ready to be crossed by all those beautiful roads.
One of those trucks took us from the pier to the immigration office. The loading platform was corroded by rust so that I was able to see the road through the wheel case and also the sills bent to the point of breaking as we sat on them. As fast as possible, only limited by the material, we crossed the city. With about 20 km/h.
Where the hell is the immigration office?
Upcoming is the weirdest immigration I ever had in my life. We arrived at a small house with a man and his family inside, him carrying disgusting infection on his foot which he was bathing in a tub. My fellowship sat down, naturally. Looks like we were waiting for the lady with the stamp. In between we had time to change some money. I had brought Dollars since the official exchange rate was 1$ = 11 Bolivian Dollars but according to the internet you could get 1:75 on the black market. Thanks to the economy and oil crisis my rate was at 1:135 and I heard that you could get up to 1:180. A man with a hat and a motorbike awaited my 30 Dollars and rode off with them. Everybody had warned me about the danger and corruption in Venezuela and there I was handing him the money and he vanished.
After some time he was back and handed me 2700 Bolivian Dollars covering an exchange for 20$ according to our previously discussed exchange rate, Although I had given him 30$. He said that the 10$ had been Trinidad money and there my money was gone. I stayed cool and figured that this was all part of the experience of getting ripped off. My exchange rate was still very good. I was rich here.
Prejudice in my head
Our passports arrived, ready stamped to my surprise. I have no idea how it happened, I never saw any officials. I felt a little illegal but the stamp seemed to be fine so I stopped worrying about that. When crossing the border to Brazil I would be finding out that everything was fine.
As I finally sat in a car, my first lift, i thought about the last hours and realized that I had never had a 10$ note and that the changer didn’t fool me. It was my prejudice about Venezuela making me think that. I was ashamed because I had claimed he had not given me enough. He had just done his business the right way. That’s what you get after several weeks in the Caribbean between aristocratic sailor, that tell you every day how dangerous and corrupt Venezuela was supposed to be. I will be shot, robbed and fooled and anyway, I must be really crazy entering that country. Some Americans even got angry at me, why i go into this danger. Such a scam. In the end it was so different. Venezuela is a wonderful country. But that I would only experience after my first ride…