Mérida to Caracas
daily route map

Saturday, January 31

ere you ever excited about a taxi ride? Probably not. Unfortunately, it was selected as the least painful of several unsavory options for our return to Caracas.

The long-distance buses travel from Mérida to Caracas only by night. Apart from the lost sleep and security concerns, we would arrive in Caracas mere hours prior to our flight stateside. Should the bus break down enroute, we would miss the flight. Bob and I have experienced unserviceable long-distance buses in Bolivia - a fact that surely biased our current decision.

An internal flight would set us back some $250 for three tickets, and would preclude seeing the countryside - a desirable for Edward in particular.

After hearing a rate quote of 250,000 Bs for the one-way taxi fare, some $156.25, we decided on the taxi: it would travel by day, the driver stopping at our convenience, and likely take less time than a bus.

We met the driver at 8 a.m. It was convenient to aim for Catia La Mar, a community outside Caracas and near the international airport. We verbally agreed the fare would be the same as Caracas.

Traveling east from the highlands, the road descended monotonously for dozens of miles. A rear-window view revealed mountains eight to nine thousand feet above our gaze - prominence! The road continued into the llanos - flat countryside populated by farms and growing sun-drenched produce such as coffee and watermelon.

One highlight was stopping for refreshments mid-afternoon. Originally planning upon a soda pop, I was captivated by a pint of Venezuela-produced Arequipe Fudge ice cream. The diet coke came later.

We reached Caracas at nightfall, the driver pressing onwards some twenty additional kilometers to Catia La Mar. After some fumbling around with street navigation, a barely adequate motel room was taken in what appeared to be a slight calm in an otherwise rough neighborhood. The driver asked for additional money despite our agreement that morning. Rather than possibly incite a fight, we gave him an additional twenty dollars.

The ride had not been enjoyable except for brief episodes of roadside discovery or photo opportunity. Perhaps we should have requested the air conditioning, as it would have made each passing minute more tolerable.

Bob and Edward ate Chinese, remarkably at a restaurant without the customary tea service. Not being particularly hungry and wary of the neighborhood's denizens, I stayed in the room and had one of Bob's leftover bagels with my gorgonzola cheese.

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