The first impression

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.

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53 Responses to The first impression

  1. alexhannda says:

    loved and is funny to..! keep going babe. 😉

  2. HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHA Welcome to the jungle!!!! We are on the orde for anything!

  3. I do not want to laugh, but it is almost inevitable. I think we’ve all felt like this sometimes here. Sorry and best of luck! Welcome to the jungle!

  4. Joaquin Da Silva says:

    Good luck.

  5. dougto says:

    Hey Martine! My name is Doug and I’m a Venezuelan expat living in Toronto. I am currently visiting my family in Caracas and I certainly identify with some of the issues you mentioned in your blog post. I’m going to be here until next Sunday (5th). If you are planning on coming to Caracas and want to walk around and experience the city, you should let me know! This country is a mess and I wouldn’t like a foreigner to run into any trouble or bad experiences just because they didn’t know better. I wish you the best!

  6. Thanks for sharing this! Your story took me right back to my own first impression of this country as a child: the sudden wave of humid heat to the face as the glass door opened on the way out of the airport — that instant sums up the transition from the cold order of Europe to the fertile but dangerous chaos of the tropic.

    Welcome, stay safe, and keep it coming!

  7. I highly recommendo you to create a Twitter account. Venezuelans twitter users are really active ones and fluent in english (in general), it is always helpful to have a few peers to ask for directions, even if those peers are digital. Also, it will help you to improve your spanish.

    Following this blog, it is an interes experiment for us.

    Welcome. Have fun.

  8. By the way, my twitter user is @lobachevscki, feel free to follow me and I could suggest more people.

  9. Antonio says:

    Hello girl, welcome to our country. My name is Antonio from Maracay. This is my twitter @Shukzen If you ever come here, let me know if I can help w/ something :3

  10. AracelisElenaDeJesus says:

    Hey 🙂 I really liked everything that you just said, even tho it’s sad to think I call such a place “home” I have no choice, but you do, and you still wanted to be here, I admire you for that, I promisse you there’s a lot of good things here aswell, dispite all the mess…Take care and good luck 🙂 @aritatweet

  11. Will Anders says:

    Buenas.. (you may now heard that too many times)

    I can’t even begin to express my gratitude for doing this experience possible in our country. Most outsiders just say and make opinions without actually been accordingly informed of what’s happening here (that I actually believe that we are the only planet in the world in the current social situation)

    Anyways, welcome to Venezuela, the happiest country on earth. As you may know now, we indeed are pretty nice, outgoing people, we do have good stuff to brag about.

    If you ever want to visit Valencia (just a couple of hours away from Barquisimeto) let me know. I live in the safest “municipio” (county) in Venezuela so you may have some peace in all this mayhem.

    Hope to read you again soon.

    Email: willmedinara29@gmail.com

  12. Cristina says:

    i think it would have be better if you had contact someone from couchsurfing who look for you at the airport and teach you everything about how to survive.. being with locals also gives you another perspective of things… i hosted for 3 days a girl from Vienna and she stayed in Caracas (yes, only Caracas) for 3 months… the reseach before going to a place and the advices that you can take from people are very important before the trip. Try not to be around too much with only “sifrinos” because they are going to take you only to “safe places” in their cars, and to feel the place you have to share with all types of people. I can recomend you many places in Caracas that you’ll be surprise to find that here.
    Feel free to write me. Here is my Cs profile https://www.couchsurfing.org/profile.html?id=L3SI5HK

  13. @elpanachristian says:

    Welcome! You’ll enjoy it.

  14. Q says:

    Hey! I absolutely fell in love with your blog, it’s so weird and cool to hear a foreign person talk about the country and the city I’ve lived in my whole life. I honestly think your blog will have a huge success among the Venezuelan people. It’s so unique and exciting.
    This might be a little weird, but I translated this particular entry to Spanish: http://pastebin.com/RfE5gJ8x. Use it however you want to, though I did specifically for you to, like, start reading a bit of the language. I figured it would be a lot easier if you already knew everything that is written.
    I wish you the best! Keep on, and welcome to Venezuela.

  15. Daniela G says:

    Welcome! I’m so happy to see there’s still people who takes the risk to come to Venezuela and explore the wonders of this country. If you ever come to Maracaibo (I know is hot as hell but you should totally come here) don’t be afraid of contacting me: daniigc@gmail.com or my twitter account @daniiwar and I’ll make you a tour.
    Keep enjoying and please eat lots of arepas and plátano. Be safe, try to make venezuelan friends who can show you around and have fun!

  16. hahahahahaha… its normal.. :$.. we live with fear all time.. but it is a sad habit.. salu2 BUENAS.. jajajajajaja

  17. Jesse says:

    Incredible indeed, its amazing how the things we take as normal are completly absurd to others. I really enjoy reading the comparations between your culture and ours.

  18. Alicia Ferro Tamayo says:

    I enjoyed so much reading your article, I have relatives living in Norway, so I tink for they is like weird and very different way of life. I hope you comeback in our country! A la orden!

  19. LUD says:

    “At the same time it looked beautiful. The mountains filled with lights ” HAHAHA this part make me laugh so much.. in the daylight you will see the “houses” and we call them “Ranchos” It’s where low-income or poor family’s lives… I know Its not something to laugh about it but you sounds so genuine !! anyways enjoy venezuela it’s a crazy country but you’re going to have a great time Im sure of it !!

  20. Johanna says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts about venezuelans. It was very interesting reading all your experiences, I believe you are right in almost everything you wrote. I am Venezuelan and I am living in Canada since 2009, so I understand what is cultural shock and personal space issues from another perspective, for me was a big learning stop kissing and touching people and being so friendly in this new culture for me; even canadians are very open with other cultures and some people really appreciated me, I found that others were a bit shocked with too much affection so now I am different, always friendly but more aware about the personal space of others 😛 . All the best 🙂

  21. Jose Borges says:

    It is amazing how we (venezuelans) are used to this madness. I think we can’t live as well in other cultures. Is our “hability” to adapt to those situations, bad situatios so as good that make us survive to this with a big smile. I wish you well and the better of lucks. take care of yourself and enjoy our contry and our people. Let me know if you come to Carabobo this is my twitter account @BorgesBott

  22. lcgbv says:

    Thank you, I read all three entries and I laughed SO hard!! Cried a bit, too. You absolutely get us!! I’m not living in Venezuela right now, and the things I miss the most (besides family and friends, of course), are the heat, the carbon monoxide (that strong smell of gasoline you describe), and the friendliness of the people!! I don’t miss the music at 3 am though 😉
    Keep having fun and keep the blog going! And DO NOT leave without visiting Los roques and La gran sabana! A bit on the expensive side, but totally worth it!
    Chao!!

  23. Susan says:

    Julia Child used to say. “People who love to eat are always the best people.” Y rest my case, love Venezuela.

  24. Trust nobody for real, I am actually a Venezuelan but sadly many people approach to foreigners just to take their money away and even more if you have dollars or euros in cash, those that I include are also law enforcement personnel, the police and the army (specially the national guard) I can help you with anything you want to know, I have been all over the country and I know how people is. BTW Best Christmas Eve in Venezuela are in Maracaibo, they are just pure magic and pure love :).

  25. Marialaura says:

    Omg the way you tell the story is just so funny.I love it! I hope you enjoy here (if you’re still here) I also live in Barquisimeto. Good luck and may the force be with you doll ; D

  26. Wilder Calderon says:

    I couldnt agree more with you. Im pretty
    sure nobody will get offended by way you have described the venezuelan society. Im glad you are capable of seeing the good things of this beautiful, warm but chaotic country. Congratulaions on your initatives to tell the world who we are. Good luck and take care.

  27. hahahahahahahaahahha oh my god haha this was soooo good, thank u really, u make my day 🙂 but at the same time… everything was true 🙂 i’m from barquisimeto, i have NO idea why in earth u wanted to came here but WELCOME 🙂 enjoy your time here aaand if u need anything u can ask to any person in this city hehe bye then

  28. Diego says:

    jajajajajajajajajajajajajajajajajajajajaja… thanks for the reminder!!! still very different to live for 8 months compared to your entire life! but you hit straight on!! congrats…

  29. Hei Martine!! hilsen fra Molde!! I am really happy to read your blog, I am having the opposite experience, I am Venezuelan (from Caracas) and moved to Norway.. My norwegian friends think I am a little crazy but I am just a Venezuelan. exactly as you described us,.. I am still Learning to live here, It’s quite different but I love it… Enjoy Venezuela!! I wish you nothing but the best!

  30. Hei Martine… Lykke til i Venezuela… det er veldig interesant og morsom å lese bloggen – Jeg gleder meg til å lese mer. Også som Maria sa det er stor forskjell mellom Venezuela og Norge of for oss (venezuelanere) var det ikke lett å forstå det norske samfunnet. Lykke til og bare si fra hvis du skal til Caracas igjen (familien min er der) og FELIZ AÑO…

  31. paola_urbina says:

    Hello !!mi ingles es pésimo pero me las ingenie y lei tu blog bienvenida a Venezuela en especial a barquisimeto y me contenta que estés a pesar del calor y lo loco de este país estés feliz.. saludos

  32. Thanks for sharing ur experiences here in Venezuela! I have been in europe and ppl there are really different… I felt bad in germany and I wanted to come back home cuz I was lost and nobody wanted to help me out. That’s what makes us different we can help ppl without taking care. I’m so happy u came here and it seems u liked the country. Thanks for coming!

  33. Mirela LLosa says:

    I’am Venezuelan am I currently live in Chile . Thanks for your beautifull words about venezuelan culture. I take the time to read it all and made me cry . I miss so much my People !!! Enjoy your time in my beautifull and living country .

  34. Irene R. says:

    This is a feeling you’ll get even if you leave the country for just a year!! I’m Venezuela and I spent a year in Michigan and when I got back I was scared to deaaath!! Take care and enjoy!! (: @BbusinessIrene

    AND TAKE THE SUBWAAAAAAY

  35. Rita says:

    …Buenaaas!!!
    Hahahaaaaa!!! This reading was very funny and sweet. I hope everything goes fine for you in Venezuela.
    …I’ll definitively follow your adventures! Lovely blog!

  36. Jesus says:

    ¡vaya! como me hubiera encantado haberte conocido cuando estabas en Barquisimeto!.. espero algun dia regreses.. follow me @_zynex_

  37. Ruben Anzoka says:

    Buenas.. Ya hablas algo de español no? Its so nice to read this, I like culture shock because is a way of coming out of the comfort zone… I lived 1 year in Belgium and i had my own experiences that were really shocking but now I am back in Venezuela-Barquisimeto and I am proud of myself… I know you have heard this a lot.. But if you need some help of anything here is another Venezuelan!!! Ruben.anzola@hotmail.co,

  38. Luis Villasana says:

    Hahahaha!! I’m very impressed that you really decided to experience this by your own, even more, that you made it from a very long place like Norway. I’m also glad and feel good that even a foreign person notice the positive things that we have here: the people. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience! ¡Un abrazo y SALUD!

  39. adridasilvad says:

    The only way to survive here is being “venezuelan” and I know you’re trying your best… I went to Oslo a few months ago and I felt weird because it is too peaceful and silent… I loved it… but I know how shocking is the change your life did… I would like to know what are you doing here in Venezuela… Welcome! and congratulations for such an amazing blog!!

  40. natacha says:

    Wonderful blog! now I can share it with friends so they understand me better! One thing you forgot in the list of things to be Venezuelan is “You have to give (funny) names and nick names to everyone!” – here including anything from “gordita” (little fat), “catira” (blondie), “negrita” (little black? imagine saying that in Oslo!) or just adding extra names to the person: ie. ig your name is Ingeborg you would be now: “Ingeborg Margarita!” or “Ingeborg del Carmen” – because everyone has a second name there. If you you don´t have a second name you can allways say (continuing our example) “Ingeborg Pelaa” (being “Pelaa” slang for pelada – which means “with nothing else” – or literally “pealed”. So remember, next time you add a name to your pals when calling them out, they´ll be surprised of your “venezuelanism”!!

  41. Alberto says:

    Hey!

    I’m loving this blog. As a Venezuelan living outside Venezuela this is a really good and happy way of thinking about my country, family and friends :). Please keep writing, and write a little bit about yourself if you can/want. And please be safe ;)!

  42. Ricardo says:

    Hi there… Or should I say Buenasss lol… I love your blog… I’m already a big fan 🙂 I couldn’t describe it better… Well done!
    I’m a Venezuelan living in Australia and I only started to realise all these things you’re saying after living overseas…
    Please be safe, have a happy new year and I hope you party hard and dance all night on New Years Eve…
    Cheers Ricardo

  43. Jenny says:

    Hei Martine! Jeg var utvekslingsstudent i Venezuela selv fra 08-09! Kjenner meg såå igjen i alle innleggene du har lagt ut. It’s a crazy world, men likevel så herlig! Lykke til videre, og nyt opplevelsene mens du kan. Plutselig har det bare blitt til en fjern drøm.

    Besitos fra Jenny 🙂

  44. Yese says:

    Hey!! excellent blog, for sure! congrats!, i’m happy to know that you were able to meet, enjoy and truly understand our beautiful and LOUD culture jajaja! you are always welcome in Venezuela 🙂

  45. Eva Carolina says:

    Hi there or buenass…! Lol.
    Congratulations!! Your blog is AWESOME..!!

  46. Mariale says:

    This is really nice!! I’m proud you can recognize the very special things about Venezuelans , we know we are very different, and the conditions of our country might seems kind of weird, impressive and contrast for you that came from Norway, thanks for the value to Venzuelan people, hope you can visit the specials places to see the amazing nature we have! you should go to La Gran Sabana before leave the country. if there is anything I can help you with let me know! Welcome to Venezuela, the country of happy People!, (OK, now I’m feeling like the girl on the plane next to you jajaja)

  47. I really liked this post!.. the experience of someone coming to this crazy city (caracas).. Just like you said on the other post.. there are bad and good things.. I like when a stranger remembers me the good things of being here.. so thank you for that.. but don’t forget about bad things.. if you get trustful you’ll be careless.. Welcome to this crazy and nice jungle dude..

  48. Daniela says:

    I want to know the rest of the story! Are you still here? You really are very adventurous, specially if you’re staying downtown Caracas.

  49. hahaha welcome , it’s very funny but true good luck.

  50. Luis Manuel says:

    Hahahahahaha you have the perfect combination.. You made me laugh and smile and cry. Thanks for love my country more than us!! Enjoy it. Ahh and you choose the best town in Venezuela. Barquisimeto, Na’guará!!! If you eat a cachito for breakfast from “La alianza” take a picture 🙂 (I really miss them)

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