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Will Albertolli was born in Argentina and lived there until he was sixteen when his father moved the family to the United States.  Will became a U.S. citizen and served in the Navy, becoming a captain and flying A-7s.  Upon retirement, he bought the motorsailer Top Cat and, with his fiancée Charleen, joined the cruising community. 

At left, Will and Charleen

While visiting Venezuela, he decided to visit Argentina and extended an invitation to any who wanted to go along.  Will, known for his thrifty if not penny-pinching nature, negotiated a fantastic deal for eight couples to take a bus from Puerto La Cruz to Caracas, fly to Buenos Aires, stay in a hotel with all meals and a city tour, and with another vendor to take two additional tours, one to a dinner and tango show and the other to an
estancia or ranch.  Beyond that, people were free to shop and sight-see on their own. 

On February 20, we gathered in the lobby to wait for the bus which was surprisingly fairly new.  The driver had his own company with a fleet of two buses so he took a special interest in keeping the vehicle in good condition.  Below, bus, driver, and looking out of the bus.

Photo by Tothill

Photos by Amphitrite

The trip from the marina to Caracas took five hours.  The traffic was heavy, at one point delayed because of a wreck, and so hectic that two of the couples opted for a plane rather than bus on the return trip.  The two-lane road widened about an hour out of  Caracas.  Approaching the city from a high road, we could look down into the huge valley where the city is situated. 

Everyone was starved by the time we got into the city.  The driver nosed the bus up to a building, blocking the emergency exit, and we all piled out.

The group was seated at two tables.  At left,
photos of group by Tothill.  Note the skewers hanging from a wrought iron frame on the table.

By the time we finished lunch, we had little time to tour Caracas as originally planned, but the driver did take us across the bridge where on April 11, 2002, eleven people were killed and many injured during the demonstrations and exile of Chavez.  He was only gone a few days then returned to power.  On one side of the bridge is Miraflores, the official government house comparable to the White House.  Across the street is the white palace where the Honor Guard is located.  The road in between is blocked off but has a podium from which Chavez often addresses the people.

Photo by Tothill

Venezuela is said to have an "informal economy," meaning that much of the gross national product is earned by individual vendors who sell their wares along the streets and in stalls at open-air markets rather than in stores.

The currency of Venezuela has been devalued so many times that it is now officially 1,920 Bolivares to $1.00 U.S. although the official published black market value was 3,250 Bs to a dollar at the drafting of this text in February 2004.

The city appeared old and tired with no new construction and graffiti everywhere.