Tuesday 18th November – Caracas to Las Trincheras

Miraculously we managed to get up and leave early in the morning and we took the subway across town to the bus station.  Reynold´s guidebook had stated that the metro station was not next to the bus stop and that there was a 350m walk through an unsavoury neighbourhood in order to get there and that you might want to consider getting a taxi.  We thought this seemed slightly ridiculous for such a short distance especially as it was early in the morning.  As we walked through the “dodgy neighbourhood” I couldn´t help but think how much nicer it felt than the neighbourhood where we had been staying.


Once at the bus station, having spent a long time crossing a busy road, we couldn´t find the ticket office but found the buses with the men shouting out destinations.  We got on a local bus heading for Valencia and I was pleased that none of the windows had gunshots in them.  That wasn´t actually a completely random comment, you saw several buses in Caracas with ominous holes in the windows but this one seemed nice enough.  As the bus ploughed through traffic out of the city I must say I was pleased to be going somewhere else.  In a lot of ways Caracas had not been as bad as I had envisaged but in some it had and after my terrible night of paranoid sleep I was glad to be continuing on my travels.


Once in Valencia we got a local bus to Las Trincheras.  It was busy and we weren´t entirely convinced that they had understood where we wanted to get off as the journey took longer than we anticipated.  The place the guidbook said to get off was, “the bridge over the freeway”, which was slightly ominous and far from helpful.  Fortunately the conductor had understood, proably largely to Reynold speaking to him rather than me, and we stopped at the right place.  It was a short walk to Las Trincheras but it was hot and we were carrying our bags so we stopped at a cafe for a drink.  After Reynold´s drink never transpiring I finished my Pepsi and we headed to Las Trincheras.  When we got there the only rooms they had left were for five people and, as such, were slightly out of our price range.  We headed back the way we had come and passed one posada which looked decidedly shut.  After investigating Reynold asked a guy painting a fence if he knew whether it was open.  Very sweetly, but rather unhelpfully, he then did exactly the same as us, i.e. pondered the padlock and shouted, “Ola”, before telling us that noone was there!  So we continued down the street and found another posada.  This one looked, in my mind, like a giant cake.  It was very darkly painted brown wood and was covered in Christmas decorations.  It was pleasant enough though and a decent price so we checked in.  Having showered we headed back to Las Trincheras.  Along with the thermal pools there was a “mud bath” and that´s where we started.  When we bought our tickets Reynold had asked if there was a mud bath and had been told, “No”, in no uncertain terms.  When we saw people with mud on we thought the guy was mistaken but, in a way, it transpired he was not.  When we got into the water (yes it was water and not mud) it turned out that in order to get any mud you had to kind of scrape your fingers along the ground.  Then, what you dredged up was a handful of stones, leaves, sandy mud of sorts and bizarrely a lot of human hair.  It wasn´t the most attractive mix and it certainly wasn´t going to be doing any “healing” anywhere near my face.  We tentatively put some of the mud, with the least amount of human remains, on our arms and backs and then showered and left the gravely, hair pool.  As we sat by the side of the pool there were several monkeys playing over the fence at the side and they were not like monkeys I´d seen before.  There were also the most beautifully bright yellow and green birds. 


The thermal baths proved to be a lot more pleasant than the mud bath and we spent some time both in and out of them relaxing.  The hottest bath was so hot it was unbearable though and I normally like baths super hot.  It was hot to the extent that when Reynold got in he refused to go passed a certain point commenting that he hadn´t had childen yet!  There were, however, people who were going into the pool and we commented that it´s amazing what people will do if they´re told it´s good for them.  There were also a lot of people around the place who seemed a long way beyone therapeutic redemption!


After a nice time being cleansed we headed back to the posada and then went out for dinner.  The only place open was a local restaurant where we both had an amazing seafood soup type paella thing. 


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