I was becoming increasingly nervous about visiting Venezuela, since every single person who heard about my plan to visit the country was extremely discouraging; some people bluntly told me I was pretty stupid to go.
So instead of showing up without a plan like I usually do, I actually booked a hotel in advance, which I thought was pretty smart. Until I arrived there and found out the place had been permanently closed for years.
I started scrambling for an alternative and realized I should probably also find a rental car to help me move around more freely. It wasn’t straightforward to get a car on Margarita Island, but eventually managed to find a clunky little Chevy for $40/day.
Driving around Venezuela reminded me of Baghdad a bit. The traffic lights are just a suggestion and street signs are almost nonexistent. I picked up a hitchhiker who helped me understand why drivers were sometimes honking at me randomly: I was going the wrong way on one-way streets.
But the car was most useful when I came back to the $10 room I’d booked in a pinch and realized it didn’t have water or power, which I thought I could live. But then I woke up in the middle of the night startled by the little insects crawling all over my body.
So I ditched the room and went searching for a safe spot to park my car so I could sleep in it. I figured the safest area in town was the mayor’s house, a building surrounded by guards and situated next to a police station. So I drove my car there and got to enjoy the mayor’s security detail for the night while I slept peacefully.
That wasn’t too bad as I woke up to this amazing unobstructed view of the sun rising above the horizon, something I’ve always wanted to see!