Before leaving Cumana we hop a bus into the 'old town' which is still a functioning part, dynamic I'd say, part of the city! We noticed a lot of action...school groups in uniform, bands practicing etc. in the 3 plazas we went thru. Climbing the hill to Castillo de San Antonio we are first stopped by an official who asked what we were doing here. We noticed a lot of vehicles parked all up and down the hill, turns out they were holding an oil conference this day here. When we said we were just tourists going to the Castillo he directed us up the road and made sure someone came to open it up. See pics. Nice walk and then because bus doesn't leave til later we are glad to have been able to see the town AND return to posada for a shower...it is hot and humid here. Walked to nearby supermarket where people were lined up to get in, we asked why the line and they said it was for government milk...since we weren't getting milk we could just walk in. We stocked up on travel food then went next door to McDs for lunch. For a Socialist country there sure are a lot of Mcds - all very busy! Back to posada and terminal, bus leaves 40 min late driving thru what looks like distressed rainforest ala Baja.
We meet Angelina from Maracaibo who works for a telecom co., very nice, helpful. When we arr in Caracas +/- 9pm she helped us w/ Metro connections and told us that it would be best to go to Plaza Venezuela rather than city center. She kept saying it would be very dangerous. She recom Hotel City but when we got there it was full, they recom King's Inn Hotel 2 blocks away but it too was full. The very nice desk guy called 3-4 other places nearby finally locating one, Hotel Tampa, 5 bl. away for 415 b.(US$51)! We seriously considered bagging Caracas and going on but decided to stay the nite, hopefully for a better tomor. The guy offered to call a taxi (for 50b = $6.50 US to go 5 bl!) due to what he called the danger of walking this time of nite (10pm). Bon refused to think of it and as I'm already considered too whimpy my choice was to go along and walk. It turned out to be well lighted and no problem. Room was way over the top for our travel...hot shower, cable TV w/ 4 English channels, etc.
Back to King's Inn Hotel and they had room form 280b. We asked about changing dollars but the best they could do was 7:1, not what we'd expected since we already changed for 8:1 and we were told that Caracas would be better, perhaps 9:1...but they told us if caught the police confiscated ALL the money, bolivars as well as dollars!
Spent the day traversing the city, great tour of legislature in session...we saw some debates on TV...Bolivar's birthplace house, museum (he was born into aristocracy/oligachy of the time - which he rejected and visa versa), local cable car ride - thinking it was the big teleferico, NOT! Then finally, got straighened around and took bus to teleferico to mtn top and great view. Some tourist personnel of the government were there and since I think we were the only foreign tourist present they interviewed me, ha!
Unable to change dollars we trust that further on we will be able to since now we only have about 2-3 days worth of bolivars.