This is my first blog from my 4-week trip in Venezuela! República Bolivariana de Venezuela
lies in the north of South America, has an area of about 912.000 square km and more than 28 million people. Venezuela is our southern neighbour!!! Many Venezuelan tourists visit Curaçao, many Curaçao people "used to" go to Venezuela, but not that much anymore. Many still go for health reasons, as Caracas has excellent clinics and doctors/surgeons where they offer services that aren't available in Curaçao, or that there is a long waiting list for. In Curaçao we use many Venezuelan products as well. There is poverty in Venezuela, but it's not worse than in other Latin American countries.
Venezuelans are known for being very nationalistic, patriotic and chauvinistic. Well....I believe they have the right to be as such because they have one of the most beautiful and diverse countries of Latin America. In Venezuela it's possible to swim in white sandy beaches with crystal clear water, hike up mountains covered with snow, walk around the desert areas of Falcón, trek in the jungle and see waterfalls....including world's highest waterfall, visit the vast tropical grassland plain with it's abundant wildlife...and the Orinoco
delta. I think no other country in Latin America can compare to Venezuela....only Colombia and Mexico could compare, but they are both bigger than Venezuela.
Those who don't have cable-TV in Curaçao can only watch the two Curaçao channels and four Venezuelan channels on tv. In my case, that's how it was. When I was a kid and teenager, we didn't have cable-TV at home which means that I grew up watching almost everything in Spanish through the Venezuelan channels. Venevision was my favourite. Because of this I learnt Spanish prior to English. I always knew a lot about Venezuela....their music, their shows, their commercials, what was happening in the country etc. Venezuela seemed to be a part of my life and I always wanted to go.
It's not a secret that levels of crime are very high in Venezuela, especially in the bigger cities such as Caracas, Valencia and Maracay. International tourism is not very well developed here, it's not exploited yet. Places like Merida, Margarita etc. are used to international visitors already. But tourists are not easily visiting the other parts of the country. Planning a trip around Venezuela has been more difficult than to other
parts of Latin America I've been to so far. After a lot of thinking, searching etc. I finally decided to visit Venezuela this year, my parents and siblings have all been to Venezuela already. I always said that when I go, I must go for at least 3 weeks because I want to see different parts of the country.
Presidential elections are coming in October so everywhere you'll see posters etc. of the candidates: Hugo Chavez and Henrique Capriles....I saw far more stuff from Chavez. Gas prices are dirt cheap here, like US$0,03 per liter. The country is one of the mayor oil producers of the world and gas in Venezuela is subsidized by the government. On the other hand, most other things are expensive. Caracas is by far the most expensive city. It's ridiculous! Especially food prices are very high! Officially, one US$ = 4,30 Bolivars. Venezuelans cannot buy dollars as much as they want, there are restrictions set by the government. They are only allowed to change a certain amount of dollars annually. Therefore they always buy dollars from foreigners and they pay up to 8 or 9 Bolivars for one dollar...known as the black market. Caracas
My visit in Venezuela started with a visit to the capital and largest city, Caracas. It has more than 8 million people, is big and the traffic is stressful! It lies in a valley at about 900m above sea level. It's divided from the Caribbean Sea by mountains of El Avila National Park. Caracas is the city where the crime rate is the highest, so being careful here is a must and I obviously knew this since I was younger. My father has family living there who I knew a long time already because they often visit Curaçao. I contacted Carin, a cousin, and told her about my plans to visit and I could stay at her place in Caracas, which is a huge advantage! Her grandfather and my grandfather used to be brothers, which means that her mom (Melba) and my father are cousins! They treated me very well in Caracas, gave me tips what to do, where to go etc. Also her son, Juan Carlos. The first morning I was in Caracas, they woke me up early (6am) and we went to a big park called Parque del Este, a very nice park full of people running,
jogging, exercising etc. The park also contains a zoo, basketball- and volleyballcourts, and football fields. Carin also took me for a ride through Caracas where I could take some pictures. We also visited Eurobuilding Hotel where Juan Carlos had to attend a presentation and from the hotel there was a nice view of the city too. I can't complain, I really appreciate their hospitality and that they opened the door of their home for me to stay a couple of days!!!
Back in 2001, there was a huge party for Carin's grandmother's 90th birthday which was attended by all the 12 children the grandma has and many grandchildren. Some I knew already, some I met for the first time. I exchanged email addresses with some of them but we didn't keep much contact. On Facebook I found some of them again. Here in Caracas I met with Antaraju again, who is a grandson of Dala....who is another cousin of my father that lives in Caracas. I met Antaraju in Curaçao, he is from Merida but lives in Caracas now. I also met Jean Carlos, who was also in Curaçao back in 2001. He is the brother of the husband
of Shelly, who again is the daughter of my father's cousin Helen. Hahaha! Anyway, Jean Carlos took me out at night with two other friends and we also went up the El Avila hill with the cable car, where I also met with Antaraju. The next day I went with Antaraju to Avila National Park, Los Venados. To get here you must go through a "barrio" to board a jeep that takes you there. Generally, barrio's are not the safest places to walk around as they mostly consist of slums. This barrio, Cotiza, is not among the most dangerous ones and besides there is police near the place you board the jeeps...so no problem at all! Up El Avila we hiked a little bit, enjoyed nice views of Caracas, had lunch and did canopy / rappelling. The next day I went with him to visit his grandmother, Dala (cousin of my father) and his aunt Edith, who I met in Curaçao loooong time ago! During my last day in Caracas we went to Parque del Este in the afternoon where people gather to play football, basketball and volleyball. Antaraju went to play football while I played volleyball. At 7:30pm the
lights of the courts go off and everybody leaves the park, which closes at 8pm. I was glad to have met him again and that he made time so we could hang out often in Caracas!
In the city I walked around mostly by myself, visiting places such as Capitolio, Simon Bolivar's House, Museo Bolivar, Bellas Artes, Plaza Venezuela, Sabana Grande Boulevard, Plaza Altamira. I didn't feel unsafe at all. I didn't look like a tourist at the first place and I knew where I was walking to, I speak good Spanish and there are a lot of coloured people here, much more than I actually thought....so nobody would actually notice that I'm a tourist....maybe only when I take the camera out my pocket to take a picture. I was using the metro by my own, it's a very easy, safe, cheap and convenient transportation system built in Caracas in early 80's....and they're working on new lines.
I must say that Caracas is a great and nice city: it has everything! It's a PITY, a real pity that crime levels are so high! I enjoyed my time there fore sure and of course thanks to the fact that
I have family there. If I didn't have family there, I wouldn't have chosen for Caracas easily!
Next destinations on the trip will be: Maracay, Coro, Merida, Llanos area, Valencia, Ciudad Bolivar, Canaima N.P / Angel Falls and back to Caracas.
¡Hasta la próxima!
Tot: 2.29s; Tpl: 0.063s; cc: 14; qc: 33; dbt: 0.0359s; 2; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.4mb