Day 1

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First Day – Fly to Mérida

On the morning of October third, several taxis arrived to transport us to the airport. Our cab driver told us a little about the parts of Margarita that we passed, with my mom translating. One interesting point was that on Margarita, the government had arranged housing for people who had lost their homes in mudslides. The drive, which was about forty-five minutes long, also showed us a lot of Margarita’s terrain. The island was largely covered in dry, red dirt. There were lots of cacti, and some low, scraggly bushes and trees, often with spines, but no sign of water above ground. The sun baked the Mars-like surface, and it would have been a very uncomfortable trip without air-conditioning.

We got to the airport and onto our plane without much trouble. The first flight was not particularly wonderful, as it was mostly over water. We did not have very long in the air before we were over mainland Venezuela and coming in to land at the Maiquetia airport, a few miles outside the capital city of Caracas. We had a little time before our next flight, so we decided to have lunch in the airport (they were not serving meals on the flights.) As we waited for our lunch to be prepared, we explored the airport a little. 

It was much like the large airports in the States, with lots of little shops and signs pointing every which way. There were several restaurants (we were having lunch at a little sandwich café) and a few bookstores. We were disappointed to find no books in English, though we looked everywhere we could. By far the most common stores, however, were candy shops. Apparently, Venezuelan travelers have a sweet tooth. Since the prices were quite low, Amanda and her friends stocked up.

The eleven of us in MeridaAfter lunch, we went down to the terminal. The plane we were to take further inland was a small prop plane, and we had to take a bus out to it. Inside, the plane was cramped, with a ceiling too low for me to stand and only a little legroom. Fortunately, the flights were not long. The plane landed at several airports before reaching Mérida, but we never disembarked. My dad and I passed the time by playing cribbage and watching the terrain go by below. As we came towards Mérida, we were greeted by a spectacular view of the Andes, reaching up with snow-capped points.

In the Mérida airport, we met a travel agent named Jakelin. She helped to set us up with Victor, a local guide with excellent English. We also checked into a posada, or guesthouse (more like a hotel, in this case.) We went into a park just across the street from our posada and played Frisbee for a while before we went to a restaurant for dinner. There were many kinds of food, such as meat, pizza, pasta, soups, and salads (though the menu was in Spanish) and they were quite good. We also got arepas (warm, flat bread made with flour and/or corn, sometimes with meat and/or cheese inside) as an appetizer, and pizza for our main course. After dinner, we went back to the posada for the night.

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