19. May: Today I'd like to go on a trip to La Curata but Annewien isn't well. We sleep till around 10, then have breakfast at our Posada. Annewien's back to bed and I set off to the airport to change some Traveller's Cheques. There are a number of banks in town, but hardly any accept them and definitely none are takers of our exotic "Thomas Cook" cheques (we'd chosen Thomas Cook after hearing that Cuba wouldn't accept "American Express" cheques..). Italcambio is the single money-changer in Venezuela who accepts Thomas Cook, and the only office of theirs in Merida is at the airport. It's Saturday and it would close early due the weekend, so there was a long line in front of it.
|Feeling none too well today at breakfast||Colourful Merida store|
I take the bus back to Merida and wander around town. I eventually find a park overlooking the valley of the Teleferico and there are some nice views of Merida's surroundings, although there is a high mesh fence around it due it being a children's playground as well.
I return to our room and am glad to see that Annewien is already up and sitting in the courtyard of our Posada. She's feeling a bit better by now and we discuss our plans for the next few days. We go back to Luis' travel agency but he's closed. Right opposite to him is another travel agency, which would charge 40'000 Bs for a trip to Pico Aguilar for the both of us. No is lunch included, but it's cheaper than Luis' offer, so we book for the next day.
Going out, we see that Luis has opened shop, so we enquire about his Los Roques offer, about Angel Falls and Coro. There are so many options and restrictions (e.g. Los Roques was not possible on weekends). He convinces us that we SHOULD visit Angel Falls and we should rather go to the lonely, marvelous beaches some distance west of Caracas instead of Los Roques. We'd not really planned on visiting the Angel falls, since it was a very expensive trip and we'd heard from a number of people who'd been there that they couldn't see the falls at all due to clouds. Luis said that they were an experience of a lifetime and we would be more than justly rewarded for the money it cost (which would turn out to be true for us!). We're totally confused by now and leave to discuss the situation.
We go to a nearby park after getting some biscuits and bread from the local Panaderia. We decide that we would do Angel Falls (booked through Luis) and then Los Roques, which we would travel to on our own, without any pre-booking (which wouldn't turn out to be such a good idea). Returning to Luis' shop, booking the flight to Ciudad Bolivar was a hassle since because of time, date, availability and price constraints. The flights were all over Caracas, with two start options (Merida and Vigia) and two destination options (Ciudad Bolivar or Ciudad Guyana). Eventually we get a flight from Merida to Ciudad Bolivar (125 US$ one way) and the Angel Falls package starting from Ciudad Bolivar, involving a plane trip to Canaima camp, boat trips, all meals, and two nights in a hammock. A guide speaking English would be included, this package cost 230 US$ .
For dinner we go back to the restaurant overlooking Plaza Bolivar but today the food's not as good as last time. I unfortunately get served liver (which I don't like at all!) due to me having understood the menu and the waiter, indicating to the side of his torso and me expecting it to be something like ribs or steak or something. On the way to our Posada we pick up some more beers from the restaurant next door for a drink in our courtyard.