January 2-3, 2008
Now that New Year's Day had come and gone, it was finally time to start heading out of Venezuela. While waiting in line to board the ferry to the mainland, several kids were swimming near us and begging for people to throw coins to them. Occasionally someone would oblige and the kids would all go diving after the money. They had no pockets, so they stowed the coins in their mouths. Venezuela's money had taken such a nosedive, however, that the biggest coin was only worth ten cents, and most of the coins actually being thrown into the water were worth far less. I found it a disgusting display of the have's having a bit of fun at the have-nots' expense, in the same way one would throw bread crumbs to the pigeons in a park for a bit of entertainment.
The ferry was more expensive than the speed boat I had taken to the island, meaning that its patrons had a bit of money. Consequently, the people actually waited in line rather than pushing and shoving their way to the front the way they normally would. In fact, the ferry left right on time and was the only experience I had in all of Venezuela that felt somewhat organized. Back in Puerto La Cruz, I got an overnight bus to Valencia, followed by another bus the next day to Maracaibo. Unfortunately, Venezuela had cities called "Maracaibo" and "Maracay" near each other, so it was difficult to convince the ticket vendors that I actually wanted to go to the former, despite the latter's supposed importance.
I arrived in Maracaibo late in the afternoon and could have tried to get another bus to the Colombian border right away, but didn't want to risk the crossing at night. There was a hotel perfectly located next to the bus station, and when the lady at the desk asked how much time I wanted, I said â€œJust one night." While she was writing down my information, I sneaked a peak at the registry and saw that everyone who had come there before me only paid half as much as I did. I complained, but the lady at the desk told me that they had only paid for one hour. So it was one of "those" places. Still, it was cheap, clean, and you couldn't beat that location, so I stayed there and got a decent night's sleep on my last night in Venezuela.