Lots of things going on. One, a couple of weeks ago was a trip to Valencia.
When I returned to Venezuela shortly before Chavez election, I did consider settling in Valencia. It had 90% of the advantages of Caracas with 60% of the inconveniences. So to speak. Soon this started to change when they started building the metro line, never finished, leaving a gash through downtown that has created a permanent gridlock and destroyed its city life. Still, until 2010 Valencia could count on some advantages as being the best city (with Barquisimeto) if you could not deal with Caracas anymore. Coastal cities or Guayana are a no-no because of the climate.
But since 2010 Valencia has started going downhill, though in all fairness all of the country was doing so.
The fact of the matter is that even though I did drive around Valencia I had not gone to Valencia in over two years. Words fail me to describe what a wreck Valencia has become in two years. Pot holes are worse than in Caracas. Too many stores to count that are closed for good. Indigents and homeless abound, even natives from the Orinoco delta that usually were reserved for Caracas. What used to be the eating out area of Valencia has been reduced to paltry half of establishments that close by 9PM, and poorly attended anyway (and not good for the one I went to but that is another subject).
And yet, just like in Caracas, shiny new business centers rise in the remains of the best areas. Centers that remain empty, with stores inside that have very little to offer and thus could not possibly be able to pay for the huge rental fees that such centers should charge.
You guessed it, just as in Caracas, the only flourishing business is money laundering though building shiny office buildings in case Venezuela economy starts to move again. Then they will be able to sell at a reasonable loss the office space. A loss perhaps, but now "clean" money.
But I digress. The fact of the matter is that Valencia is a wreck. And for some reason I was deeply affected, realizing how the Maduro era is destroying the country, something spared to me in Caracas since I live it day by day, little crumbling by little crumbling. But when faced with a drastic change....
But it gets worse. The reason I had to go was because the S.O. needed to arrange some of his business there since his disease had blocked him from doing so for over three years. Taking advantage of a lull of sorts in his condition we went. I decided to go to one of the best hotels because considering his fragility I did not want to risk running out of water, electricity, AC, or what not, a standard in Venezuela hotels now. Comfort for him is a must, not a luxury. So we reserved at the Embassy Suites by Hilton (ridiculously cheap if you calculate in US dollars but ruinous if your income is in bolivares).
The hotel was overall OK. The breakfast buffet was OK. The room was OK even though we required twice for plumbing and electricity to come, preferring the inconvenience of waiting a few minutes instead of having to move rooms. The crowd was not that OK: clearly a lot of chavistas nouveau riche. Times have changed, we need to get used to it.
But, during Saturday while we were away, the room service personnel stole half of my tooth paste and almost all of the little shampoo I had left. It is a fancy French shampoo that is good for travelling as it keeps your hair light in spite of all stress and external contaminating agents; and because it comes in a tube instead of a bottle. I had about 4 hair wash left and I barely had enough for one that night, squeezing really hard.
That is right, at the Embassy Suites of Venezuela you risk that housekeeping steal pretty much everything, including your precious Colgate tooth paste....
This did not help overcome my Valencia depression.....