After drinking some nice rum at the house of the cousin of Ivan, my host, we picked up David, another Couchsurfer, from the bus terminal before getting to Ivan’s son’s house around 10:30. I fell into a hammock and was immediately asleep, getting a few hours before being woken up at 2:30 to head to the airport. Ivan’s son was going to Curacao for the weekend and the airport is by the coast, north of Caracas.
Even though we left at 2:30, there was some seriously ridiculous traffic on the road. They are doing work on a bridge and we were sat in traffic that was at best crawling for over an hour apparently. I don’t know. I was doing my best to sleep. By the time we were getting to the airport, the sun was coming up over the Caribbean, and I had had most of a night’s sleep. After some confusion at the airport, the plane wasn’t listed on the departure board and none of the check-in counters seemed to be for the airline, it was time to drive across the city to the official Canon repair shop who I’d been told would definitely be able to repair my camera, although not under warranty because those are apparently only valid in the country of purchase – the lack of an international warranty from a company like Canon is just ridiculous in my eyes.
It took over 2 hours to drive the less than 40km to the office on the other side of the city. This involved large stretches of sitting in traffic that’d move forward 3 car lengths in the 60 seconds when the lights would be green. At the office, which opened at 9 even though the opening hours said 8:30, I dropped off the camera and was assured the diagnostic would be performed and he’d call us back by 2pm. It was to be the first in a long list of missed deadlines.
Ivan, David and I headed to a nearby large park – Parque del Este – where we wandered round and had lunch at a state run arepa place. They sell arepas for 15 bolivares instead of the normal Caracas prices of 30-50. There are also state run supermarkets which sell groceries at much reduced prices, but stock is limited and lines are very long – both reminding me very much of Cuba. The shortages are such that if a shop gets essentials such as toilet paper, milk, oil or the flour for arepas that a huge lines forms outside.
The original plan to be back in Valencia changed when we found a host. Amry, who during his 5 months on Couchsurfing has already hosted well over 100 people, told us that we would be more than welcome to crash on his floor. His place seems to have become the Couchsurfing headquarters of Caracas and that night he had a bunch of people over for a party. Needless to say, the camera people told me that they were looking for a part and would call me on Monday as the camera would be ready. They of course hadn’t called us, we’d had to call them a few times.
The following day, a Saturday, there was a Couchsurfing meetup in the nearby Colonia Tovar, a German community started in the middle of the 19th century. Ivan, David and I made the couple of hour drive over together through the nearby beautiful mountainous, steep and generally horribly paved roads.
I’d been told about how Colonia Tovar was very German, and so spent a good part of the way driving across thinking about rye bread, cheeses and hams. My hopes weren’t quite met. The views of the town are spectacular, and the architecture is very different than anything else in the area, but although there were definitely a lot of sausages, some potato salad and a couple of beers with a bit more taste than the normal Polar Ice, I found no rye bread and the cheese and ham selection was the same as normal.
A local cabin had been rented for the night, and it apparently only slept 8, but we were 12. Walter, the owner of one of the cars had a different party in Caracas so we were down to 11. The person in charge said that there’d be space for me, but unfortunately not for Ivan and David. It felt a little awkward, but they said I should stay so they went back to Caracas while I spent the night there. It turns out that King’s Cup is a universal drinking game and that the largest bottle of rum you can buy, that of 1.75L, is called a pata de elefante (elephant’s foot).
Sunday was spent heading back to Caracas, with another night of drinking for David’s birthday. Monday sightseeing, with more drinking at night, and being told that the camera wouldn’t be able to be fixed without getting the lens replaced. That would take about a month as they’d have to order a new one from the US. I also hung out with Fernando, my friend from La Grita, and he took me to a different camera shop hoping that they could fix it. I left Caracas on the Tuesday evening to go back to David’s place in Maracay. On Wednesday I took a bus back to my bike in Valencia and rode it back to Maracay. The autopista normally had a shoulder, but it was a little horrifying at times. The worst part was when I was close to Maracay, the sun was going down and very dark clouds were above. Said clouds then emptied themselves all over the road and I got to ride through the shoulder, which with the way the road is angled had turned into a lake.
The shop that Fernando had suggested got in touch with me the next day and said that the sensor had failed on the camera meaning they also couldn’t repair it. It was apparently the first time they’d seen such an error. Fernando’s wife is going to be heading to the US in November so hopefully she can take it with her and get it to Canon. It was bought at the start of last December so that should still be under warranty and then it’s just a case of getting it back to me. I’ll be looking to pick up a temporary camera in the meantime. Thank you to those who have contacted me about that, I definitely appreciate the support. The cameras here aren’t great, definitely not to the standard of the RX100 – a clear current best point and shoot – but it should do until I get my s100 back in December.
Pictures thanks to David’s camera.