Should I Travel to Venezuela?

vz12

I was recently asked by a fellow blogger, Indah Susanti, about the safety in Venezuela and if it was advisable to travel there. My first reaction was a resounding no. Many of you are probably aware of the rising problems happening in Venezuela and the instability of the economy, due partly because of falling crude oil prices mixed with tight controls for exchanging U.S dollars.

vz4

I studied abroad in Venezuela during the Spring of 2012 before the elections, before Chavez passed away, and before Maduro took the country to another level of poverty. I want to be clear that I have nothing but respect for the Venezuelan people, they are proud of their country and proud of their heritage. They are kind, loving, and boisterous. My host mother called me hija (daughter) and my Venezuelan friends offered up their homes and food to us when we were traveling. Everything was a party, we could be waiting in line to use the ATM for two hours and we would be drinking beers and salsa dancing. They always find a way to turn a not so great situation into a party.

DSCN1956_1

Merida, Venezuela (Taken by me in 2012)

We practiced our Spanish and laughed together at the crazy things that you say when you don’t fully know a language. They taught us how to salsa, how to make arepas (a Venezuelan staple), and took us on trips to show us their country. I have never had a better time in my life. Today, I am still in contact with many of my friends and we talk about the current situation in their beloved país.

venezuela

El Cayo Sal (Take by me in 2012)

Things have changed dramatically since I was there almost three years ago. I feel a deep attachment to Venezuela and keep up with current events. Many of you know about the political and economic crisis that Venezuela is facing today. My friends have posted pictures of empty shelves in the stores, waiting in line for hours just to TRY to get some food (I literally mean up to 10 hours per day), and of the protests that broke out last February 2014.

vz5

With so much going on the country today, I would advise against traveling in Venezuela. I mean, who wants to go to a country where you can’t even buy toilet paper, deodorant, or much less Advil? When I was there these basic necessities were available so I could go on and on about the reasons why you would want to travel to Venezuela. They have amazing beaches, untouched Amazon rainforests, and, of course, the awe-inspiring Andes mountains. There is a plethora of things to do and places to see and you would be remiss not to go one day. However, 2015 is probably not the best time.

Safety was an issue while I was there in 2012 and has only become an even bigger concern, especially for Americans. Political relationships between the United States and Venezuela have been mounting and creating even more pressure, especially after President Maduro accused Vice President Joe Biden of trying to over throw the Venezuelan government.  Recently, Excelsior Gama (a large retailer in Venezuela) made the decision to “…restrict the use of cameras inside their stores for ‘strategic reasons’ to do with marketing.” They made this decision as the #AnaquelesVaciosEnVenezuela became extremely popular on Twitter showing pictures of thousands of people in line for food shopping in a store filled with empty shelves.

vz10

vz

The political situation only continues to escalate between Venezuela and the United States, and you don’t want to be caught in the middle of a cross fire as a tourist. Not to mention the large amount of tourists who have been kidnapped, robbed, or killed.  There is also currently an advisory from the U.S Department of State advising against any travel to Venezuela, which is not all that surprising due to the tension between to the two countries.

vz6

According to the NGO Venezuela Violence Observatory, “There were 24, 763 homicides in Venezuela in 2013, amounting to a rate of 79 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, among the highest in the world.” The economic situation is so bleak right now that even the major consumer products company Clorox has completely exited the country altogether.  Clorox is not the only one taking a major hit from the hardship in Venezuela, PepsiCo lost $126 million last year because of the devaluation of the Bolivar. Coca-Cola also lost over $660 million last year and a group of airlines claim that the Venezuelan government owes them around $4 billion. Luftansa and Alitalia have completely cut flights to the country while Delta and American have drastically cut flights to Caracas, making it even more expensive to travel there than previously.

vz8

A student takes part in a protest against Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas, Venezuela.

You probably have come to the conclusion that you will never travel to Venezuela and that it is a dangerous, terrible place. However, I want people to be able to make informed decisions on whether or not to visit the country so, don’t take it off the list forever. For the year of 2015 it is fairly easy to say that you should pick somewhere else, but who knows, in the next couple of years maybe they can get it together. I know I am planning my return trip, hopefully that will be sometime in the near future.

Have you ever been to Venezuela? Do you know anyone who lives there right now? If you have any questions/concerns please let me know! I want to hear your thoughts, do you think it’s safe to travel in Venezuela?

***All photos not specified were taken from Google Images and are not my own***

Advertisements

10 comments

  1. aleksawal · February 19, 2015

    Venezuela is such a beautiful country so it’s a shame to avoid it. I was there quite awhile ago and didn’t experience any safety issues, although I have never been so thoroughly checked by customs in any other country. I hope things improve soon for the people that live there and so others can experience it too. I would guess that places like Margarita are still ok to visit but I haven’t looked into it.

    Like

    • nightingalecreativedesign · February 21, 2015

      I would imagine Margarita is probably fine, I did not have time to go there when I was in Venezuela, but I really want to go! It looks so amazing.

      Like

      • aleksawal · February 21, 2015

        So beautiful! I preferred the Orinoco and Canaima in terms of adventure and activities, but Margarita is great if you need to get away from it all. I wish I spoke more Spanish…that would have helped me explore it more.

        Like

      • nightingalecreativedesign · February 21, 2015

        I also wanted to go to Los Roques, I heard that it was just unspoiled beach but there’s not much to do. Super expensive as well, but it looks worth it. Some friends of mine flew out there and spent a couple days camping, they had a great time. Empty beach and miles of sea. I definitely need to improve my Spanish, but that just comes with more travel!

        Like

  2. Indah Susanti · February 19, 2015

    Thank you so much for the update of Venezuela. I feel so sorry for what happens there. It is tragic that many innocent citizens are suffering through the political turmoil of the elites 😦 I hope the situation will be improving soon…

    Like

    • nightingalecreativedesign · February 21, 2015

      You’re welcome! Thank you for checking it out and taking the time to read it! I also hope it gets better for everyone there.

      Like

  3. bert0001 · February 19, 2015

    Went there in March 1992 … on my own, rented a car and made a round trip of 12 days over Maracay, Coro, San Cristobal, Merida, San Fernando de Apure, Pto Ayacucho, some other places I have forgotten and back to Caracas. Life was different then. But I remember hitchhiking policemen and military because they had no vehicles, very poor native Americans in Amazonas, very friendly people wherever, but especially in San Cristobal and Puerto Ayacucho … Already in 1992 I avoided Caracas. Food was always good.

    Like

    • nightingalecreativedesign · February 21, 2015

      That is amazing that you rented a car! I can’t imagine driving there, it would be incredibly frightening today. The one day that I spent in Caracas was complete madness, it was difficult just to cross the street on foot. There still are many poor people there, but like you said, incredibly friendly. Thank you for sharing your story! I am just still in shock that you rented a car! Incredibly brave 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • bert0001 · February 21, 2015

        In those days policemen and military used to hitch-hike around, .. i took some of them to nearby cities. Also took some hand pushed ferries, and crossed the Orinoco twice. Once helped 10 stranded people cause their taxi had broken down, and they all went inside the Fiat 1500.
        Went to Surinam 3 years later, and drove around in Nigeria between 1993 and 2004. There was no boko haram then yet, but they already killed each other for their religion …
        However, if you are open and patient, you will meet people like you and there will be no strange stories to tell.
        I went to India 2 years ago with my 5 y.o. daughter, much against the advise of ‘many’, but nothing special happened (more to the contrary — easiest trip ever) and she has done things and met people nobody in her school has done yet.

        Like

      • nightingalecreativedesign · February 22, 2015

        That is an amazing story. I definitely agree with you that if you are open and patient you will meet people like you. I have wanted to go visit parts of Africa, but some regions are definitely off limits. One of my cousins married a man from Uganda and they just took their two young children there, about 5 and 2 years old. They always have an amazing time, I would love to go with them one day. My sister goes to India frequently, she is getting her PhD and her research is based on a small town in the Himalayas. She never has any problems when she goes.
        Your are obviously a very kind person, stopping to help so many people. That is what I love about travel, getting to connect with people on very different levels than what you do at home.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s