31.08.2010 - 06.09.2010 0 °C
We left Santa Marta to try and get to a river town called Mompos. It was not an easy job, all the busses to Mompos leave at 7.30am so we decided to head to Cartagena for the night, enjoy the old town one last time and head off early the next day. On the bus to Cartagena however, we ran in to some trouble. The lady at the ticket booth had given us the wrong ticket and the conductor wanted us to either get off or pay again, so after about 30mins of discussing this in broken Spanish we gave her half and said thats all the cash we had. Was only about $3 but still it was quite annoying, but it just showed us that we should check our tickets better in future. The next morning we headed to a place called Manganue, it was not a nice place, as soon as we stopped loads of touts started shouting through the door and as we were getting our lugguage some ****-muncher tried to pick pocket me, so roughly that he nearly ripped my trouser pocket off. Luckily there was nothing in my pocket but it was a pretty horrible experience. We decided to leave the town as quickly as possible and jumped on a boat that would take us closer to mompos, after the boat we also had to take a shared taxi and finally we arrive in a the quaint river side town. We wandered around the hot streets and had some lunch at the riverside. Because its quite an effort to get to, theres not many tourists and the locals are really friendly. When we were walking back to our hostel some boys wanted us to take photos of them jumping off a derelict building in to the river, and they were really good jumpers, doing backflips and things.
In the evening all the locals pull there rocking chair outside their houses and enjoy the evening breeze and as you walk round the village you see loads of bats flying out of the eaves. Its a really strange and lovely place. After a few days relaxing there we decided we should move on and try to get in to Venezuala. We went to the city Bucaramanga which was ok but not that interesting, the best thing about it was our room, it was pretty cheap and it had air-con and a plasma screen tv! Thats one of the good things about untouristy areas, you get more for your money! We vistited the Venezuelan embassy and they told us we needed a tourist visa and it would take three days to get. We´d heard you could get these from the border so decided to risk it and head for the border anyway and try our luck, since we couldnt be bothered to hang around for three days. Another problem was Venezuelan money, i won´t go in to it cos its confusing but basically the president wants the currency to be strong so has fixed the exchange rate at 4.3 bolivares for one dollar and it makes the country really expensive. So in the end we changed up colombian currency and got a really good deal (about 7.9 to the dollar)! So it was all good.
We headed to Cucuta which was a pretty ugly place and got a taxi to the border, we had to walk over the border and round the town looking for the migration for Venezuela and we were getting pretty worried that we were gonna get turned away. But they stamped our passport and gave us a tourist card no probs.
We´re in Merida now, its quite a nice town and theres alot of adventure sports to do here but we´re just using it as a stepping stone to Cuidad Bolivar. So tonight we´re heading on a mamoth 23 hour bus journey! But we got BusCama (bus with beds) so should be pretty nice!
So far venezuelas been good. The people are quite friendly and helpful! We´ve heard lots of bad stories but all of them are from the capital Caracas so we´ve decided to skip that!