Our last full day in Venezuela was full of flight frustrations and banking problems. We’d underestimated how many bolívars we’d need for some of our taxis, and once again I had to go through the painful process of trying to withdraw money from a Venezuelan bank – I had a supply of dollars, always a good backup, but unfortunately these were stuck in my main luggage in Caracas.
Venezuelan ATMs just don’t play with foreign credit or debit cards – they keep asking for your Venezuelan ID number and talk to you in Spanish, even if you chose the English option. Also they are programmed to work at high speed – apparently a security precaution, but totally baffling to a stranger like me. More like playing a one-armed bandit. So the only way to get cash was to queue inside and get money over the counter through an old fashioned swipe machine and showing your passport.
Outside of Caracas this was an even greater problem, and it required José Vicente Franceschi to call ahead to the bank, a meeting with the bank manager and then still joining the huge queues to got hold of some money. All the time the clock was ticking and we still had an hour and a half’s drive to the airport.
We made it, only to discover that maintenance problems had caused delays on the 45 minute flight to Caracas. Then the weather turned, and in all we were delayed four and a half hours, with Steve left waiting for us in Caracas. We arrived early evening, having missed most of our appointments for the day, but did manage to catch up with Kai and Mrs Rosenberg and their daughter Jessica again.