In Latin America, it is not uncommon for criminals to roam around in motorcycles looking to rob people.
Usually it involves one guy driving while another guy with a gun or a knife is sitting in the back ready to assault people for their belongings.
If I remember right, I believe the first time I ever heard about this was when I was living in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Though I’m not too confident, I think I remember the term for these criminals was “motochorros” in Buenos Aires.
I was going to title this article “Motochorros” but I’m not sure if they use that term in Venezuela or the rest of Latin America.
So let’s go with a more neutral term to refer to them as – “motoladrones.”
Anyway, these types, as I said, will usually go around assaulting people for their belongings.
As you can see in this video here where these two guys try to rob someone but end up getting robbed themselves!
Speak about justice….
So definitely keep an eye out to not have anyone steal from you!
In other incidents, like in this video below here from Argentina, the criminal might not necessarily have an armed gun on them and is possibly just bullshitting you.
Though it could also be the case that this criminal maybe didn’t have the drive to kill someone either.
But let’s get into the one time I have seen a “motoladron” in Latin America.
I have never seen these types of criminals anywhere in Latin America except during my very brief time in Maracaibo, Venezuela.
I often don’t write about my time in Maracaibo from years ago because it really wasn’t that eventful.
I stuck to myself without running around doing crazy shit or being out in the street messing around.
For obvios safety reasons.
So I simply didn’t do much while I was there and don’t have much to write about.
But there was one incident worth remembering – the one time I saw a “motoladron” outside.
Or what I believed to be anyway.
Given how frequent these incidents are…
I suppose it is a good way to open some minor light on my time in Venezuela while also exploring a topic that is important to life down here.
So let’s get to it.
Traveling to Maracaibo
So before going to the Venezuelan city of Maracaibo…
I happened to be living in Barranquilla, Colombia.
Now, for those who don’t know, Maracaibo and Barranquilla are not really that far from each other in the grand scheme of things.
Anyway, I happened to know a Venezuelan chick named Zahira who was in Maracaibo at the time.
As you can read on my other articles, I met Zahira in Buenos Aires, Argentina at some house party.
She was a white Venezuelan chick with long black hair and I think maybe had some Middle Eastern heritage also.
That’s not unusual for this part of the world either…
At least in the Caribbean Coast of Colombia where Barranquilla is, they have had some migration from the Middle East in the past.
Is it the same for Maracaibo? I actually have no idea.
But either way….
I ended up arriving to Maracaibo despite the protest of a Colombian friend of mine named Andres.
Who was a drinking buddy that you can read where we would often go to stores late at night to drink by the corner of whatever street.
He thought I was crazy for taking a quick trip to Venezuela as “not even he would go there.”
But I figured it would be a good way to knock Venezuela off my list of places I can say I’ve been to in Latin America.
Even though I only went to this one city for a very brief period…
I can at least look at myself in the mirror and go “right, another place off the list.”
And I had Zahira in the city that I felt like I could trust to be my own little guide in a way.
So, for those curious, here’s a video of what Maracaibo looks like.
I didn’t take these videos nor any photos since I didn’t take with me anything except a backpack, some clothes, a cheap ass burner phone that wasn’t worth anything and plenty of USD.
Since I didn’t feel like risking losing anything too valuable.
Once in Maracaibo, I met up with Zahira who was waiting for my arrival…
And we got into a vehicle and off to her place of residence.
As part of our deal, I exchanged a lot of the USD I had on hand for a better exchange rate with her than what the banks would offer.
Since, for those who don’t know, there are countries like Venezuela or Argentina where it can be a little bit easier to find locals who are desperate for USD.
Due to the USD being a relatively more stable currency with higher value.
I guess you can think of it like exchanging currency for gold?
That seems to be the mentality of people like Zahira when it comes to this.
Or how I’ve seen it.
Exchange the shitty local currency for the USD that you can have more trust in during desperate times.
Anyway, we exchanged money and I was set to spend some time in Maracaibo.
The City Itself
As I said, Zahira was basically my personal guide to the city.
If I wanted to go check out some spots, she’d tag along and we would move around to the typical touristy parts of the city.
We never left Maracaibo and didn’t venture into doing any crazy shit in some sketchy barrio looking area.
Suffice to say, I forgot the huevos in Barranquilla for going to sketchy neighborhoods to snort coke off a hooker’s ass.
Maybe next time we can party like it is 1999.
But I felt like taking it safe and easy for this trip.
From what I remember anyway….
There was a pretty cool lake in the area that we enjoyed a bit.
Actually that was really my favorite attraction to the whole city.
You can see a video of it here.
I tend to like natural attractions over museums and shit so I liked the lake a lot more than anything else.
You also had some botanic garden or whatever that was OK. It wasn’t memorable.
There was also some building that looked like a church or whatever that I guess has importance.
I had to look up the name of it and it was what I think what it was here below.
Outside of that, there were a few malls and some plaza area we checked out.
In the long run, I can say really that the lake was the most impressive touristy thing to check out.
Everything else was average.
So how safe was Maracaibo?
Overall, it felt OK but like a more extreme version of Barranquilla.
Both cities actually looked kinda similar to me to a degree.
The difference though is that I saw a lot less people fucking around in the street.
But more importantly in that the “atmosphere” was more extreme in a way.
Based on my time in Barranquilla, there was a feeling I had when moving around the city that “I could get hit any moment.”
In that it felt sketchy and someone might come by to mug me at any moment.
It felt like there were a lot of sketchy people there even though I liked the city overall itself.
Maracaibo essentially felt like a more extreme version of that.
Where it felt like that even during the day at times in Maracaibo.
And not just the night at 2 AM visiting your girlfriend’s house in a sketchy neighborhood like I did when I lived in Barranquilla.
Having said all of that…
I never got hurt.
Nobody mugged me.
Funny enough, no police ever kidnapped me either trying to extort me for money.
Like they did one time in Mexico City here…
But I was also in Maracaibo for a relatively very short period of time to be fair.
Having said all of that…
While I never had issues, someone I saw did.
Escaping the Criminals with Arepas
Getting later into the afternoon….
It wasn’t dark yet outside but the sun was starting to set basically.
I forgot the time exactly but let’s say around 6 PM to 7 PM more or less.
Anyway, Zahira and I decided that we are going to get some food.
Now, for those who don’t know, there is a type of food in South America called an arepa.
I’m honestly not an expert when it comes to arepas because I’ve had them maybe 2 or 3 times in my life up to this writing.
They are tasty as hell though!
And while I often shit all over Colombia for having terrible food….
The arepa is one thing I think they do well.
As there is this little competition between Colombians and Venezuelans over who makes arepas better.
In my experience, I liked the arepas I had in Barranquilla, Colombia more than those in Maracaibo.
But both were tasty!
From what I remember, it was like some pastry that had meat inside it.
But that’s all I remember about it given my limited experience.
Anyway, Zahira and I decided to head out to buy some before it got dark outside.
Walking outside, we get some arepas and head right back to her place.
Once inside, we were enjoying the arepas but saw some commotion outside the window that was in front of us.
Looking down, we see some “motoladrones.”
Or so I think they were anyway.
Basically as described before, two dudes rolling through the street on a motorcycle.
They targeted some young adolescent sitting on the side of the street in front of what was maybe his home or whatever…
And pulled up in front of him.
The teenager didn’t have a phone on him or nothing.
But stood up with a gun pointed to his face and pulled out all of his shit from his pants.
I imagine they didn’t steal much since the guy didn’t look too old.
Maybe 18 or whatever?
But whatever, they took whatever little money he had in his pockets and left.
That was it.
Not really more eventful than that.
I heard that sometimes the criminals in Venezuela will just shoot you instead of ask for money.
Not sure if that is true or not.
But regardless, they drove off and the dude looked flustered.
And that was it.
I guess you can say Zahira and I were lucky in that we didn’t stumble around the street for too long.
Outside to get some arepas.
Straight back inside to eat our meal.
Had we left maybe 30 minutes later or however long…
Maybe that could’ve been us.
But I remember seeing that anyway and it leaving a small impression on me since I never took the “motoladrones” seriously before.
When I got back to Colombia not too long after, I remember being much more on my guard when seeing motorcycles driving by.
Especially if they are driving up too close to me by the side of the street or whatever.
Anyway, that’s all that was.
Again, not eventful really.
Give us money or we shoot.
He gave up the money.
That was it.
Just got to be careful, you know?
As I said, this shit happens all over Latin America so don’t think it is just in Venezuela.
But Venezuela definitely did seem a lot more dangerous to me.
I’m glad I did it smart and had a friend to be my introduction to Maracaibo.
If I could, I wouldn’t mind necessarily going back solo.
Especially as I’m a little older now and with more experience and Spanish ability in Latin America.
But you have to be smart about it obviously.
I got lucky in that nobody ever targeted me.
If they do though, obviously give your shit up because it isn’t more valuable than your life.
But also don’t go walking outside – anywhere really in the world – with too much shit on person that could be robbed.
Be aware of surroundings.
Don’t do dumb shit.
That’s all I got to say on that for now.
Anyway, the only other things I have to say about Maracaibo…
It seemed very hot.
Like I said, it seemed similar to Barranquilla in many ways from my impression.
It also seemed like a city of potential.
A place that would be nicer to visit if it wasn’t for the fact that Venezuela is in a tough situation right now.
it seemed like it could be an enjoyable place to spend more time in if it wasn’t for the security situation.
And think of what else it could be…
A place to stroll through the warm streets with a cigar in mouth.
Maybe a classic car to drive around in.
Nice looking Latinas walking around with friendly smiles and a curiosity to meet you.
Some nice clubs to hit up after with all the reggaeton to enjoy with the Venezolanas.
And some street food arepas to fill you up when it’s time to hit home.
Wake up in the morning and enjoy the lake nearby.
With a bottle of whatever in hand.
With a song like this one playing in the background.
Could be fun.
Maybe someday in the future when Venezuela is a safer place to be.
I know one thing – I absolutely do have plans to go back and enjoy Venezuela well beyond Maracaibo one day.
To enjoy not just the nightlife…
But also the immense natural beauty you can find in the countryside like with Roraima, Rio Orinoco and much more.
Because, from what I have read, Venezuela really does have so much natural beauty and is really fascinating to me as well.
All around, Maracaibo and the country at large are places I plan to visit for a more extended period of time one day in the future.
Anyway, leave any comments or questions below.
And follow my Twitter here.
Thanks for reading.