After I unloaded the aluminum cans, I walked the remaining mile or so on my road to Caucagua’s bus station. The sun, playful as ever, decided it was time to peek from behind the low clouds. This caused that every wet surface in sight (remember: it was a drizzly day so far) to warm up and steam to rise into the air, turning the entire area into one large sauna bath.
By the time I arrived to the bus station, I was sweaty as hell. Also, I was greeted by a vision that normally would have filled me with dismay: the long queue lines to board the buses. Since I wasn’t in a particular hurry (I still had 22 hours to catch my flight), I took this with equanimity and a relaxed attitude, ready to wait in line as long as necessary.
There were about a hundred people waiting, which is enough to fill at least a couple of buses (or maybe even 3) according to local standards.
I was bored and I wanted to document this moment too, so I pulled out my small digital camera from the pocket of my jacket. I did my best to act as conspicuously as possible, trying to take a snapshot by concealing the camera in my armpit lest some pickpocket might feel tempted to rip the little gadget off my hands. Alas, as the blurred left picture shows, sweaty pits and electronics don’t mix well.
Sigh. Well, I let the camera rest for a while to let the moisture evaporate and, after I made sure the image wasn’t blurry, I took the next picture, which illustrates how dilapidated and dismal the bus station at Caucagua is.
Well, I watched as two buses arrived to the depot, let people board and leave… at the rate of one every 45 minutes or so, as they don’t run on a timetable and their arrival/departure times are heavily dependant on transit conditions in Caracas. If there’s a massive traffic jam over there, well I could kiss my chance to get there goodbye.
About 10:30, I was fortunate to catch my ride and I was able to travel the 50 miles that separate Caracas from Caucagua in less than 2 hours (I told you, didn’t I?). Of course, this journey was shadowed by a very bad omen: where the hell did I put my baseball cap? I remembered I took it off and put it aside to take the pictures. During the entire bus ride I rummaged through my handbag, searching from top to bottom.
It’s not that I put too much importance into such stuff, but that’s no way to start a trip and a baseball cap is a must in the area where I live, especially at noon, lest your brains fry out. I was about to arrive to Petare, the eastern tip of Caracas, when I finally picked up my bag with both hands and looked at its underside. There was the cap, smugly grinning back at me. (Ohhh, here I was! Wasn’t that a nice game of Hide and Seek? Yay!)
Also, by the time I paid my fare, I was very glad that I had spend an hour scavenging scrap metal: the guys running the bus company had raised the fare almost by 50 % overnight, which would have caused that I’d be rather short strapped for cash in local currency during the rest of the trip.
I got off the bus at Petare sometime around noon. And I pondered about what I could do with all my spare time: I was supposed to be at Maiquetia, Caracas’ only International Airport and check-in at 3 AM, and the last bus going there departs at 9 PM, which still gave me plenty of time before I reached my final intended destination.
What to do?
Ah, well, I chose to walk across Caracas, from Petare to Parque Central, which is about a 5-mile long walk. And of course, I had my trusty plastic bags at hand: this city is now a filthy cesspool and there were hundreds of aluminum cans calling me by my name.: