That's a tough question--a bit like asking how long it takes to learn Photoshop. It depends on what you want to do. If you just need to learn the basics of how to edit text and make basic changes to an existing site, much of what you need to know can be absorbed in an hour or an afternoon. If you want to design custom sites from scratch, be prepared to come up to speed over a period of weeks and months.
Why the disparity?
Caravel is enterprise-class software that happens to be designed to help non-technical people create websites. There's a lot of richness under the hood that makes it possible for technical people to do some amazing things--generate thousands of sites off of corporate data, set up portals and e-portfolio sites, integrate Caravel with your existing enterprise webspace, integrate security with your enterprise directory, etc. If you aren't interested in any of those things, don't worry, we've hidden much of the complexity, so it's only there when you need it, or your administrator decides you need it.