As I discussed in my first post about being stranded in Caracas, I honestly did not know how I was going to get from the airport to the hotel. This is a simple feat in most places. Get in a cab and go. It’s a more complicated venture when in one of the world’s most insecure cities and when it’s widely known that people get express kidnapped while in taxis.
The second porter who carted my luggage to the airport taxi stand was a sweet old man. He alleviated some of my anxiety. That is, until a man not dressed in a uniform claimed that he would be able to put me in a taxi. I asked this man decked out in a gray shirt and blue jeans flat out if he worked for the airport like the rest who did and, say, the uniformed man who had a walkie-talkie did. Gray shirt man assured me that he did indeed work for the airport.
While we “waited” for a taxi, my school kept calling me concerned that I was getting in a taxi and not the hotel shuttle that was nowhere in sight. In rapid English that left gray shirt man agitated, I stated that I was not happy about this situation, something seemed off to me, and I didn’t even trust the man standing in front of me claiming he knew how to get me in a taxi.
As I spoke on the phone, another fake cabbie was arguing with a female companion while simultaneously trying to convince people to get in his car; a woman in leggings was getting her luggage pushed by a man who she was questioning just like I questioned mine.
When gray man asked me what hotel I was staying at, I lied and gave him the name of the hotel that he unwittingly had said to me earlier in our conversation. Convinced that I was in the wrong part of the airport to catch the airport shuttle, he carted my luggage off to a different area of the Caracas airport that I was also familiar with.
Of course, there was a uniformed hotel worker for the exact hotel that I was lying and saying I had a reservation with in that very section of the airport.
At this moment of potentially being caught in a lie, my common sense finally kicked in.
Gray shirt man was the only person I had encountered claiming to work for the airport who was not in uniform. Even the man from the hotel was wearing a uniform.
Fake New Yorker me set in and I told the man thanks for his time, but leave me alone. I wasn’t leaving that very spot, I wasn’t giving my name to the now confused hotel worker who eventually shrugged me off and left, and I wasn’t getting in a taxi.
Put differently, leave me the hell alone.
Gray man hesitated before commanding, not asking, that I give him a tip.
In the closest I’ve ever been to arguing in Spanish, I firmly stated that the man lied about working for the airport when I asked him if he did so now why was he asking me for a tip? He hedged and said “I do,” meaning I do run up to unsuspecting people and put them in God’s no what kind of taxi, then demand a tip. That’s my way of getting money even though I’m not on the airport’s actual payroll.
Eventually, he left tipless and I stayed with the shakes.
When another uniformed employee approached me (and I confirmed that he worked for the actual airport) my tough demeanor began to crack.
Tears slid down my face, and I still wanted to leave Caracas.
A future post will be coming to discuss what happened next!