|Being Sunday has lots of advantages when traveling...mainly, no crowds, and in this particular case, the streets were almost empty when we said goodbye to Jonatan (who is from Maracaibo and told us we should have no difficulty changing bolivars to Colombian pesos there). On the way, passing McDs Bon noted that they were open (never before in Venezuela did we find one open before 11am), and she could get her egg mcmuf, ha! Since it was so easy getting thru town (usually the streets are jammed w/ traffic), we arr at the bus terminal an hour before it was to leave. A lot of good it did, since once on the bus it left the terminal just 5 min. late but proceeded to park just outside the exit gate and waited almost 45 min for another passenger!!!
Very nice ride, double decker in the panoramic seats up front. It was cloudy so not at all hot, but also (as has been the case the whole time in Merida) we could only see the lower slopes of the high mtns that surround the town. Passing lots of little stands along the way selling avacado, melons, squash, pineapples, bananas/¿, fruits of many kinds in season, as well as drinks...many times the sellers just stood in the middle of the 2 lane road which slows traffic considerably but ususally only where there were speed bumps (there were alot of these too).
The bus gradually filled along the way but we had our own dbl seated spots in the front for more than half the way before Bon and I had to sit side by side. At one point I noticed 'For Sale' signs on several places and so I began to count them. Got to over 15 which included homes as well as parcels and even farms/fincas! I'm not sure what's going on w/ this, it might just be poor economy, or perhaps has something to do w/ Chavez ideas ie distributing food for cheap or free - requiring producers to accept what the govt is willing to pay as well. The Swiss fellow we met yesterday said in the 8 months he's been here stores have regularly been out of some staple foods for weeks eg. flour, sugar, milk, etc. Also, I saw written on a wall in Merida a call for confiscating land and redistributing it ala Mugabe/Zimbabwe...hmmm!
Arr in Maracaibo about 6, went to Hotel right across from bus terminal and chkd in, then to terminal and talked to fellow about por puesto transport tomor to Colombia (no problem, 80b ea), and exchg $$ (no problem, once in Colombia across border).