Backpacking in Venezuela: Caracas/Carcass (Delete As Appropriate)

Backpacking in Venezuela: Caracas/Carcass

Backpacking in Venezuela: Caracas/Carcass

It’s pretty hard to embrace a shit hole, or to write anything positive about a place you despise or hate. But there’s more to Caracas, and Venezuela than meets the eye. There’s a tough life there – a harsh government and a very odd sense of totally false capitalism. I narrowly escaped a robbery in one of the “posher areas” (that’ll be why then, those from the slums know where to go to find their targets…). So…

Caracas (with Riga and Prague closely behind) is easily the worst city I have ever visited. So much so, I just couldn’t be arsed doing any proper sightseeing, or spending any money there (but I had to, in order to get the fuck out).

But my visit to Caracas was in January 2011 and the dust has settled since then, so here’s some perspective on Caracas, one of the world’s most dangerous cities, the capital city of a country known as Venezuela. Look away if you don’t fancy reading about a shithole…

This wasn’t a love affair. As the saying goes “you can’t polish a turd”, and the dynamic sounding Caracas really should be anagramised into Carcass, a much more fitting and appropriate title for this troubled city.

So I arrived early morning. I won’t detail each part of my entire stay in Caracas, as it was shit, but here’s the lowlights. 

That was my Caracas sunrise cracking against my bus window. A city built beneath a gorgeous back drop of mountains. The view and surroundings become less attractive as the city erodes away the humanity you hoped prevailed the world over.

I had travelled north east from San Cristobal having crossed the border by shared taxi somewhere between Cucuta (Colombia) and San Antonio Del Tachira (Venezuela).

So the story begins – I arrived at a crap bus station in Caracas – not even the main one. Not even the one I thought I was arriving into. I felt it was in the middle of nowhere. This “ultima parada” didn’t make it onto any of my three maps of Caracas from my guidebook, so I was literally stranded. What was even more strange was that one of those maps listed a major bus station (with connections to San Cristobal) as being Terminal La Bandera (Flag Station) and being 3 kilometres off my map. 

I managed to work things out and realised (by remembering the bus route on the way in) that the nearest underground station was only about a 20 minute walk. It felt a bit dodgy, though it was early morning. I guess wilting in the heat, thirsty and hungry with 2 heavy bags on me didn’t help things. 

Where – Caracas, VENEZUELA

Sightseeing – Plaza Bolivar, Simon Bolivar Statue, Dodgy Pawn Shops, National Assembly, Cathedral, Plaza Altamira, Altamira backdrop

Dodgy Currencies – US Dollars and Venezuelan Bolivares

Nationalities Met – Venezuelan, Ecuadorian, Trini, German, Surinamese

Where I Stayed – Altamira

  • Full name: Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
  • Population: 29 million (UN, 2010)
  • Capital: Caracas
  • Area: 881,050 sq km (340,561 sq miles)
  • Major languages: Spanish, indigenous languages
  • Major religion: Christianity
  • Life expectancy: 72 years (men), 78 years (women) (UN)
  • Monetary unit: 1 bolivar = 100 centimos
  • Main exports: Petroleum, bauxite and aluminium, steel, chemicals, agricultural products, basic manufactures
  • GNI per capita: US $11,590 (World Bank, 2010)
  • Internet domain: .ve
  • International dialling code: +58


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