The reason I went to Venezuela was because I wanted to form my own picture of how Socialism is working over there and how things were going with Chavez at that time. The only other country in Latin America where I had been before was Brazil. And there I already experienced some fear and mistrust between the people. It took me about two weeks till I felt self-confident enough to start Hitchhiking. In every family I stayed there was some story of somebody being killed and everybody warned me that I as a gringo have to be especially careful. Cars would not stop at traffic lights at night and generally the streets outside the central areas were quite empty at night. And this was Brazil. Caracas is even more dangerous.
I actually did not really think about it when I bought the ticket. But of course people talk and made me understand that I should be really careful. Then I found myself sitting in the plane and there was no way back anymore. I contacted somebody on Couchsurfing who could not give me a couch but at least help me to get around a bit on my arrival. That was the only thing I knew about my trip. I was was going to meet somebody I absolutely did not know in a city that everybody said to be a war zone.
In the plane I was sitting next to an old Spanish women who somehow had relatives in Venezuela. She called me totally naive and advised me to stay inside the airport, close to the police till I have my flight back. I should not even think of going out of the airport. Sure, I was going to stay a month in the airport. But she really managed to make me feel unsure about what I was actually doing and insecure about my survival in Venezuela.
I landed in Caracas in the early evening and it was already getting dark. I went to get my luggage but the airline managed to lose my luggage. The only one left to me was my hand luggage which at least contained a pair of underwear and a toothbrush and some books. After running around for some time trying to claim my luggage I finally accepted my situation and left the luggage area. I wanted to stop smoking, but all this stress made me long for a bit of self-destruction. So I thought “Venezuela is a developing country, for sure I can find somebody sitting on the side of the entrance of the airport who is selling lose cigarettes.” My presumptions turned out to be right which really made me feel a lot safer, because it gave me the feeling of actually knowing what I was doing.
Next morning I took a bus to the city centre. I was the only passenger in the whole bus which made me feel a bit uncomfortable again especially as all public transport from the airport to city centre has to pass some narrow, shabby looking streets, and I already imagined a group of armed guys entering the bus to take away what was left to me. But no, the bus driver was really friendly and dropped me of in front of a big hotel where I was to suppose to meet the guy who was coming to help me.
He took me for a walk through the city. This made me relax quite a bit. I could see streets full of people. Old people, children, women, street artists, just normal street life as you could find it in Germany as well. Everything all right, no problem. The guys name was Jose as about half of all Venezuelan men as I had to realize later, which makes it easy to remember but hard to distinguish names. He managed to find an other friend of couchsurfing who was willing to help me out and give me shelter at least for the first 2 or 3 days. Her name was Maria and she turned out to be a real lifesaver to me, as she could lend me cloth from her brother who at that time was not in town. Though she again had to get me back on the ground of reality by telling me her tragic story. The first of I do not know how many I listened to in Venezuela already.
She actually was about to marry with a German guy. And she already was pregnant in her 6th or 7th month when they went out with some other foreign friends to some fancy restaurant. Suddenly two guys with machine guns entered the restaurant and told everybody not to move. But her German boyfriend seemed to have moved a bit because one of theses guys ran over and knocked him out with the back of his riffle. Maria surely could not keep still and do nothing and tried to take care of her boyfriend. So these guys hit her as well and by this killed the child in her belly.
But still she gave me a room to sleep and I could get used to this new environment. And it was the beginning of an incredible journey on which I met so many incredible people and passed an unforgettable time.
I arrived there with close to nothing but I returned with a heart full of priceless memories and of course Hudie. She found me stranded on a lonely beach 4 hours away from Caracas where we had a little gathering with some really nice people. At that time I was still a little lost and not really sure about how I wanted to go on with my journey. She took me by the hand and introduced Venezuela to me in a way that I really learned to love this country and its people. Even though I always feel a bit worried when I sit in the plain going to Venezuela, as soon as I meet the friends and family Hudie introduced to me, I feel at home. It is an incredible beautiful country and many of its people are even more incredible when you see what they suffered but still are so optimistic and positive.