So there I was doing exactly what I told myself not to do: cry in the Caracas airport. I was stranded and frustrated. The uniformed employee who I wept in front of was annoyed, not sympathetic.
“Why are you crying?” he asked gruffly.
I summarized my ordeal while stating again that I just wanted to find the correct hotel shuttle. After giving me directions, the man walked on.
I had taken no more than five steps when yet another airport employee stopped me under the pretext of giving help. Instead of giving me directions, he tried to persuade me to buy dollars, which is more or less illegal to do in Venezuela. The man even switched to fluent English for me.
After he realized I wasn’t interested, I got my needed directions.
But, of course, someone downstairs was waiting to ask me to buy dollars yet again.
I mean, was it just me or should one avoid conducting illegal activity while at one’s official, legal job?
When he could see I wasn’t interested, he told me that the silver haired porter standing beside us would take care of me until my shuttle arrived. I relaxed a little thinking about the first viejito at the airport, a sweet old man who carted my luggage without issue.
This man, however, was unscrupulous to put it mildly.
First, he tried to convince me that I needed to call the hotel for them to come and get me just so that he could push my luggage and then get the tip. When I refused because I knew the shuttle only came twice an hour, he insisted.
When the shuttle finally arrived, Unscrupulous Viejito took my luggage all of two steps (without me asking for his help, mind you) before the hotel worker heaved it onto the shuttle. As I bent down to pick up my backpack, Unscrupulous Viejito bent down beside me and demanded that I give him dollars.
Straightening with an anger I could feel pulse down my spine I told him I did not have dollars. Viejito flippantly responded, “Give me bolivares then.”
It was one of those moments where I wished I wasn’t raised in the South. For the life of me, I cannot even so much as raise my voice to an older person, especially if they’re old enough to be my parent. While this man deserved to get cursed out like only a teenage New Yorker can do, I simply dug in my purse, handed him some bolivares and boarded the shuttle.
As the shuttle trundled up the highway, my school called yet again.
“Oh, thank God,” the secretary sighed when I told her I had finally found the correct, secure transportation service. I was relieved too.
Now, I just had to spend the night in Caracas before attempting to fly stand-by on an international flight the next morning. I had to fly stand-by in a country where flights are scarce because the government stopped paying international carriers.