Saturday 29th November – Arriving in Ciudad Bolivar

The bus was delayed but this alone didn´t account for how long the journey was.  I was under the, evidently false, impression that the bus would take around eight hours but it actually took around fifteen!  Although buses, and particularly night buses, aren´t my favourite thing it was actually an okay one.  I managed to sleep for once and it was quite comfortable.  I was on the back seat which proved to be a great thing as there was no chance of some little gromit kicking my back every few seconds.  As we got closer to Ciudad Bolivar we went through an Army checkpoint and were pulled over.  An Army official got on and spoke to various people and looked at identification.  A couple of women at the back appeared to have the ´íncorrect´ documents with them and when I gave the guy my passport he kept hold of it.  Several people had been asked to get off the bus and go to the office but I hadn´t so I just sat back and relaxed.  I then realised that, although I hadn´t been specifically asked to do so, there was not really any chance of me getting my passport back unless I followed the guy who took it.  So I went and joined a line of people at which point a guard came out and beckoned me to go in first.  I was in a room by myself with an Army guy with a worryingly large gun.  He asked me questions in Spanish about where I was from, what I was doing in the country, how long I had been there, when I was going to leave etc and then started looking at my passport.  He must have stared at the picture then me for about two minutes.  I was slightly confused by this as my passport is actually quite new and I look very like the picture.  I was also seriously resisting bursting into a fit of giggles.  After a while I got bored with the whole him looking up at me, then down at my passport saga and asked if everything was okay and I could go.  To my surprise he said I could and I walked passed my fellow passengers and went back to the bus.  Once everyone was back on the bus the women at the back started asking me how much I had to pay the officials.  When I said that I didn´t pay anything they got frustrated, with some of them punching the chairs infront of them and the like.  It would appear that the ´fines´ courtesy of the Army and Police in Venezuela aren´t just reserved for the Gringos!


Shortly after the fine fiasco we arrived in Ciudad Bolivar.  I got a cab and asked the driver if the town was safe.  He informed me that it was beautiful but not safe at night.  I arrived at ´Posada Don Carlos´ and was blown away by the place.  It´s a beautiful place with massive communal areas.  The place is a kind of converted old mansion with a bar area, television and internet room, massive communal courtyard area and lovely sleeping areas.  I liked the place instantly and would strongly recommend it.  Aswell as the private bedrooms the dorm is a lovely balcony area with bunks and hammocks.  After a few nights in a hammock and one on a bus I opted for the luxury of my own room.  


In the evening I ran into Olaf and Ute from the Los Llanos trip and also one of the German guys who was at my hostel in Caracas.


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