By Logan Bawcom
Special to 710Sports.com
Hello there, fanaticos. I'm currently in the lobby of the Caracas hotel writing to y'all after running out of the mall following a lockdown. There was an apparent robbery of some kind and I have no clue what exactly happened other than I grabbed my Subway sandwich and sprinted back to safety. No need for a cup of coffee this morning. This was my first encounter with some crazy things about a week before I head out of the country.
Anyway, back to the main reason for this post. The downside of this league would definitely have to be the travel. This is not a normal MLB or MiLB league where you play three-to-five-game series and can settle into the town you're playing in. We typically play one team then leave town and go to another. This requires you to have a few bus or plane flights during each week. This takes a toll on the body no matter how young you are.
I'll give you a few examples of some horrific travel days. This is coming from a kid that played in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League where you have 3 a.m. wakeup calls for 6 a.m. flights and play that night. The worst trip that comes to mind was a PCL-esque travel day to Margarita Island. Now, I know you're thinking Margarita Island sounds amazing and no way the travel could be bad getting to a paradise type place, but you're wrong.
The morning started off quite early with a cab ride to the airport, which took even longer due to congested traffic in Barquisimeto. Then we sat around the airport for quite awhile in the one terminal they have here to take the only flight out to Caracas. We landed around 10 with a 1 o'clock connecting flight to Margarita Island. I came to realize quickly here that times for departures are just an approximate guess. I've never seen anything done on time in the month I've been here. Needless to say, we had about a five-hour layover and didn't ship out until around 3 p.m. with a game that night. We could easily have hopped onto a boat and beat the plane there, in my opinion.
That is an example of a bad flight, but then there are the buses. Luckily we take two buses so sometimes you can get your own seat, but that's hit or miss. Last road trip I had to double up with a fellow Mariner that was in rookie ball this year. The bus trips are usually the same every time because most places are around five or six hours with a couple that are three. Unfortunately these five-hour trips, according to Google Maps, turn into about seven-hours trips. The bus drivers here are not afraid to push the pedal to the metal, which is nice. What is not nice is the ton of government stops along the way where we have to slow down. This is where the many hours tally up from stop and go, not to mention the traffic in some places. It's never fun getting in at 4 a.m. and playing the next day, but it is all a part of the grind.
There is an upside to the long bus rides and flights, though. The Venezuelan countryside is quite beautiful. There are definitely some eyesores along the way with trash on the side of the road, but the mountainous range on the way to Caracas with everything so green makes for good looking out the window to pass some time.
Another thing that is a necessity is movies. I have tons of movies on my laptop that help throw away a couple hours with ease. Also, nothing beats a good book if you can handle the reading with the stop and go on the bus. These are just a couple things I do along with listening to some good jams to pass the time on the bus.
Overall, the bus trips and plane flights at 1 a.m. out of cities are no fun, but at the end of the day it is worth it. Nothing will be this bad back in the States so it makes you learn to take care of your body and eat right and get your rest whenever you can. The best $25 I have ever spent was on a neck pillow in rookie ball and I will never regret that purchase.
Only a few more weeks here until I'm back in the land of the free. I'm off to the ballpark and then headed out after the game back to Barquisimeto. It's going to be another long night on the bus and getting in around 4 tonight if we make it in five hours. Let's see how far down that gas pedal will go, bus driver. Adios!
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