The border crossing from Venezuela into Colombia was seamless. Here are a few observations of the politik sort:
This is the first border crossing I have encountered which was entirely optional. You could just walk from one side to the other. Actually, had I taken a taxi or bus, it would have driven straight through the crossing, so I would not have even had the option. The administrative buildings were set aside and whether you have your passport stamped or not is up to your own volition.
Thus, A to the J’s advice from the previous post that I ought to hide my talcum powder in my socks was made redundant. Had I so chosen, I could have transported a cow to the other side without any interference. In fact, I could have ridden the cow like a donkey whilst singing the theme tune to Countdown and nobody would have even blinked an eyelid.
A small community resides within the No-Man’s Land between the two borders. They are, literally, stateless people. They were also impoverished. Never has Reagan’s dictum that ‘government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem’ been so readily disproved.
Petrol in Venezuela is significantly cheaper. Accordingly, there is a bustling trade on the streets of the Colombian side of the border selling cheap Venezuelan petrol without the hassle of crossing the bridge separating the two countries. This is done under the (un)watchful eyes of the border guards.
At 9pm, my bus to Bogota stopped in an area named Pamplona. Within thirty minutes, approximately thirty buses had joined us. For the next step of the journey, we formed a motorcade led by the police. This was as a protective measure against the FARC terrorist organisation which has a penchant for kidnapping people.
Spot the difference: Upon arriving in Bogota, a police officer asked me where I was going; he then proceeded to follow me. In Caracas, the police spotted me and followed me too.
Answer: In Bogota, the policeman was making sure that I reached my destination safely and easily; in Caracas the police had no interest in what I was doing – they wanted my money.
P.S. I have also updated the post below with pictures and a video.
From South America Photo Album