Subject: Venezuela
Hi Ziners:

Those of us who subscribe to the British Foreign Office travel alerts received today an alert regarding street crime in Caracas which is already high, but purportedly rising. It also claimed that at Caracas Airport muggings by bogus taxi operators are becoming common events. Four years ago I spent four days in Caracas awaiting release of our vehicles from customs. The hotel concierge advised us not to go out at night alone. Rather she (and other concierges on duty) advised taking a taxi that she would call and then getting the restaurant call a taxi for our return. If the restaurant would not, then we were advised to call her and she would send a taxi. Since the restaurants we wanted to try were within walking distance of the hotel, we decided to walk. There were five of us, so we decided that we would be somewhat safe in numbers. Even so, we had two pickpocket attempts and soon decided that even in numbers it was best to avoid going out at night in Caracas. As for the taxis at the airport, a friend had arranged for an international company with which he worked at one point to supply us with a driver and interpreter. The company was not in the business of providing such services, but since they did pick up their clients at the airport, it was not unusual for them to do so. The first thing our driver said to us was that it was better with him than with the taxis. He did not mean the comfort. It is unfortunate for we found Venezuela to be a beautiful country which should encourage travel.

Tom in an ice crusted snowy Carlisle.