Friday, July 20, 2007

Venezuela General Info July 2007
We are really enjoying Venezuela. However if you plan to visit here, there are a few things you should know before you arrive.
Money Exchange
The official exchange rate (Up to date Info at Veneconomia site)at the bank is 2200 B per 1 US, but the are many people/businesses who will exchange US$ at 3500 B. Big difference. they want larger bills ($20 min, $50-100 bills even better), and there are also places who will take a personal cheque, $500.00 minimum drawn on an American bank, and some have an American acct that you can wire money into, and still give you the higher exchange rate. So what this means, is bring as much US cash in larger bills that you can get your hands on, before you arrive here. You need to ask around to find the money exchangers, but it isn’t all that difficult. You don’t want to use the ATM’s because they only exchange at the official rate.
Things you cannot buy get here:
peanut butter, butter, white sugar, pancake syrup, batteries -- we have been trying to get 6volt ones, unsuccessfully, BBQ lighters. Eggs are only available in the small markets.
Picture: Diesel being delivered to RAFT
Beer is 800-1000B a can, Chilean wine is good value, Vene. wine was cheap and okay. Rum is 5000-10000 B per 750 ml ($2-$3) Gas/diesel so cheap, less than $.30 a gallon delivered to your boat. Water is available delivered to your boat in Porlamar or jerry jug from Juan (.10 per gallon).
In general, if you pay the official rate, most other things in Venezuela cost about the same as in US or Grenada. It is when you get a good deal on your exchange, that you see great savings.
Juan charges $70 US or 210000B to do the check in, therefore you are better to change your money before you do your check in. Nearly everyone still uses Juan, but there are some complaints that it is too expensive, and now you can do it yourself, but it still is a fair amount of work.
Taxi's are cheap...10000 to 15000B for most rides, we never did take the buses, although there are many in Porlamar. Happy hour at Juans after 4pm, starts earlier on Friday. There were over 100 boats in the harbour. Sigo’s (a very large grocery/department store/mall runs a free bus from Juans every Mon, Wed, and Fri.
We have had no problems with security, Porlamar is relatively safe, However we had security bars made for our hatchway and are using them at night, and always raise and lock the dinghy. These will go missing regularly if not well secured, or if left at dock after dark.