Before I came to Venezuela I only knew that things would be very different from what I was used to in Norway. The differences were noticeable already on the flight from Frankfurt to Caracas. There was a lot of (loud) small talking between passengers who obviously did not know one another. The girl next to me tried talking to me using the little English she knew, and I answered (awkwardly, but polite) back in the little Spanish I knew. She was very friendly and even gave me her name and number if I ever needed anything. This would certainly never happen in Norway where people only speak to strangers when absolute necessary.
When the plane landed people were out of the seats and ready with their backpacks before the captain could even announce our arrival in Caracas. The cabin crew tried their best to inform the passengers that everyone had to be seated until the “fasten seatbelt sign” was switched off, but nobody really seem to give a shit. I could not help laughing, just a little bit.
When I reached the passport control I was highly confused because there were no signs where to go or which line to get into. In fact there was not a line system at all! In the complete chaos I decided to just place myself behind a person and hope it was the right place to be, luckily it was. After a good hour or so I passed through without problems, but I could not help noticing the big sign saying that bribing the controllers is strictly forbidden.
As I got my luggage and was ready to leave the safety of the airport I realized that this is it. There was no way back. I was by my self in one of the most dangerous cities in the world. I have to admit it: I was really scared, but at the same time excited and a tiny bit proud of being so adventurous. I took a deep breath and set out to the arrival hall…
And what a chaos, there were people everywhere with signs for picking up passengers. I knew I could not look lost, so I walked determent over to a café and asked a security guard to call the driver from my hotel. While I stood there waiting for him I realized how paranoid I was. Everyone looked like criminals, my mind went into survival mode: trust nobody! Of course most of the people there were just normal people waiting for friends and family, but the stories about kidnapping and robberies kept popping up in my head.
Yes I was scared, but managed to keep my calm face on. As people passed me I heard people offering cheap taxies or good dollar rates. Finally my driver arrived! We went out (which was like meeting a wall of heat) and got in the car that was going to take me to the hotel downtown Caracas.
It is hard to describe what I felt in the car when we drove from the airport to Caracas in the darkness, but I will do my best. First of all: Oh My God, I am definitely going to die if he does not slow down or stop texting!!! The driving was nothing I have ever experienced in my life: the speed, the constant changing of lanes, the using of the “pullover lane” as an actual lane, the honking, the texting, the lack of seatbelt and the extreme smell of gasoline was overwhelming. At the same time it looked beautiful. The mountains filled with lights everywhere and the feeling of being somewhere completely unknown made me smile, despite my fear of dying in a traffic accident.
I know now that the pretty mountains filled with lights are not so pretty during the days. As we got closer to downtown we had to drive through the “barrios”, which tend to be less safe areas (to put it in a nice way). So then I was scared again and really just wanted to be inside the safety of the hotel. This experience really was an emotional rollercoaster and I could not be happier when I got the keys to my room, which had air-condition and a huge bed.