Friday 1 November

We are woken at 4.30 am and are on the road by five. It is a long journey back to our plane from Caracas and heavy traffic is expected. Most of our route lies along the coast road. There are a few refreshment stops at grotty motorway service stations. At the final stop before Caracas, Tim gives a splendid vote of thanks to Patricia and Miguel on behalf of us all. His days as an army officer were not wasted.

Despite the traffic, we reach the airport in plenty of time. I finally get my postcards posted and have just enough Bolívars left for a cheese and ham pancake to stave off the hunger pangs until we are on board the aircraft.

Through into the departure lounge, and there seems to be some confusion about which gate our flight will be leaving from. We were told that boarding for our 1735 flight was going to be at 1535 and that since the flight was more than half empty, we would be leaving early if possible. In the event, there is no sign of action at the gate, and nowhere to wait next to it anyway. Boarding finally commences at 1700. A bizarre transfer bus/lift/thing like something out of some 70s sci-fi serial lowers us down from the terminal gate and then drives us across to the waiting aircraft.

There is plenty of space to spread out on the plane, and I am delighted to find that I have three seats to myself so that I can lie down. It has been a long day, and sleep is most welcome.