Monday, July 16, 2012

Back to paradise. NOT!

Sigamos Juntos: let's stay together (vote for me airport welcome)

Today when you arrive at Maiquetia you are welcomed by two things: a deficient do-it-yourself immigration for Venezuelans only and a gigantic poster of Chavez asking athletes and kids to stick with him, violating who knows how many tenets of the constitution and electoral laws.  I am sorry that it does not show any better since my blackberry had limitations from the distant line I was forced to follow. On the right the bottom of one of the many pendant of TVES promoting its "exclusive" Olympics coverage, because, you know, CADIVI makes sure that only TVES has the dollar to pay for the rights.

It has been three weeks away from it all.  Seeing that this time around nobody was interested in playing Waldoniel, I did not pursue it (curiously more people wrote me on that, than left comments...).  I suppose that since in Venezuela things are degrading so fast nobody wanted to be reminded of goodies overseas.  The only thing that was able to stir my keyboard was the Lugo/Dilma/Paraguay fiasco.  A good thing maybe since coverage has not not being very good if you ask me, in particular for some blog that should have stuck to his original counsel. It was not a vacation though it was a pig out contest anyway.  I think I gained 10 pounds, but every ounce was worth it.  I am not worried because the stress awaiting me for the next three months will erase some of them without any effort, helped along with the coverage of elections that will start in earnest soon.  As soon as I digest the latest of Chavez dementia, telling us that it does not matter how lousy his governors and mayors are, the only thing that matters is that he is president.  Louis the XIV should have had it that easy.

My first stress moment was at immigration check in. It has become a do it it yourself for Venezuelan residents who are forced through three machines (one already out of order) while foreigners get the usual stands with people inside (but a long line too, anyway).

Now, you need to wait for a gate to open so you can stand inside a box and scan your passport.  Of course, you have to try several times until it works (I tried 5 times until finally the machine acknowledged my passport). Then you step ahead, put your feet on a designated place and must punch in a screen your flight arrival.  That part went OK, but the next one was dismal.  You have to stare at a camera hard to locate on the device, and supposedly there is facial recognition.  Well, the machine could not read me even though it can go up and down to adjust for people's height.  I am tall but not that tall and the damned thing only caught my face once I bent my knees a little bit.

This being done, the machine approves you and prints a sticker that you must paste yourself on your passport!!!! But since the gate finally opens to let you out of the box, and there are 50 people waiting behind you, you just push everything through trying not to lose equilibrium, your stamp, drop your duty free purchases, etc...

And then comes the best part.  There is a guy at the end anyway who needs to pick your immigration from and who sees you in such a disarray that he picks up your sticker and sticks it inside your passport!!!!  These genius did not even have the idea to add a drop off box for your forms once the machine had approved you, not to mention that the guy wastes more time picking up the form and gluing your sticker than the old traditional ink stamping...

I was in a daze...

But the good part is that the immigration took so long that my luggage was already in the carousel when I arrived ..........


  1. I love watching the Olympics, but with TVES covering them? I don't even...

    1. If you have direct TV you can escape tves. They have their own coverage.

  2. Again...¤~¤±»«{>£¥}`“÷ blogger has whitened part of the post and i cannot fix it...... The White background command inserts itself everywhere and from a tablet I cannot correct it. Tomorrow I ll try when I am back at a real computer.

    Sorry for the inconvenience.

  3. Glad you are back.It's crazy out there in the blogoshpere - I am definitively picking up on some strange vibes...

  4. Welcome back, Daniel. Here’s my entertaining customs cuento:
    The last time I left VZ from Maiquetia, I was so nervous because I had overstayed my Visa—thus, becoming an illegal immigrant in Venezuela. I had had a friend of a friend who worked for the government offer to get me a 10 year visa if I would go through the proper channels (not) of buying him a large bottle of Cacique rum. I declined, though, since I would be leaving for good in six months. So as I was leaving, I was so nervous. Would they fine me for being there illegally? Ban me from re-entry? Make me give them an unofficial bribe/fine before letting me leave? Interrogate me for being a Gringo with expired documentation? The anxiety was intense as I was approaching the guard. I gave him my ticket...heart pounding...gave him my passport. Thinking “here goes, I’m about to get busted”... he flips through my passport, looks me in the eyes...I’m so nervous... and then in true bureaucratic style, he flips a couple pages in my passport, realizes that I have many pages of stamps and visas and he would have to spend an extra 20 seconds to find the Venezuelan visa, he rolls his eyes, decides he doesn’t want to be bothered with details, stamps it and hands it back to me. LOL.


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