Sunday, December 24, 2000. 10:15 a.m. Simón Bolivar International Airport, Maiquetía, Venezuela.

Unique to any airport I've ever seen, the Caracas airport has an outdoor observation deck overlooking the runways. Many families with children are also out here watching the planes. For a city of millions, this seems like a small airport. The list of all the international flights throughout the afternoon fits on only two TV monitors. My plane doesn't leave until 2:52 p.m., but I had nothing else to do today so I went a few hours early to be safe. Despite warnings on TV of heavy congestion, the airport isn't crowded.

The shuttle ride from Caracas to the airport was worth 2,000 Bs. for the view alone. I paid a gruff-looking man at a tiny ticket booth under an overpass in Caracas. "¿Cuanto cuesta?" I asked. "Dos mil." I gave him a 5,000 note, he made change and grunted. Then he smiled. "Feliz Navidad." I smiled back. "Gracias, y tú." After 9 days, it was my first Spanish conversation that felt automatic and natural. I leave the wonderful country of Venezuela with a mixed bag of impressions, and I'm sure I will view it from a different perspective after I'm back in the United States. Once at home, I'll be able to get my film developed and publish this journal on my web site. I'll also get to spend Christmas with my family, get re-acclimated to the cold weather, and readjust to the quiet, safe, English-speaking place where I live.


Journal entries: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10
Itinerary | Traveling tips | Daryl's Home Page