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Published: August 6th 2010
Greetings from Coro, in the north-west of Venezuela. I´m currently using the slowest computer I´ve seen since the 1990s, and this city seems to have had a power cut every evening since I´ve been here, but hopefully I´ll still get to complete this blog entry and upload any photos before any disasters happen… Although it seems that this computer is not accepting my camera upload, let´s hope it will by the end of this message.
Wow - am having an amazing time, and since leaving Caracas, have really felt like I´m “travelling” again - seeing amazing places, staying in great hotels and enjoying the local food. Caracas really wasn´t all that, although I still can´t decide whether it actually is that bad, or whether it was just the image I built up in my mind of so many people telling me what a dangerous and horrible place it is. Anyway, no matter, am enjoying things here in Coro.
Arrived on Tuesday evening after a loooong journey from Caracas - lovely, comfortable, modern air-conditioned bus to Valencia for 3 hours, where I changed to the complete opposite for another 5: one of those clapped-out hunks of junk
you often see in exaggerated films of South America, but they exist for real! Playing music mega-loud, though thankfully no chickens in the aísles. Despite the heat and the chaos, it really was a great journey through mountains and then along the Caribbean coast, with UB40´s greatest hits checking out the system and fitting well with the tropical vibe of the surroundings.
Two nights already spent in Coro, having done two full-day excursions: one to the nearby Cerro San Luis, with tropical jungle walks, caving and a fantastic swim in a refreshing waterfall pool, and the other to the Paraguana península, not far from the Dutch Antilles island of Aruba, with Spanish colonial towns, a walk through a nature reserve, the amazing sand dunes of the desert to the north of the town, and finally a dip in the Caribbean!! My first experience of this sea, and its beautiful waters - a bit dirty here, but am holding my breath till I hit the Colombian share of the coastline, which is supposed to be amazing!
Still not quite made up my mind about El Señor Chavez though - true, the amount of hype and propaganda around this place,
the countless times I´ve seen his face on billboards and stickers all over, and the endless “poder del pueblo” slogans with constant references to “liberation from imperialism” - the latter being mainly Americanismo, kind of gets a bit much after a while. But there do seem to be a lot of signs of development around, and most rural places and shanties I´ve seen so far seem to have running water and electricity, which is more than can be said for other shanty towns in other countries. and I´ve also seen many new large-scale low-key housing projects being built in surrounding urban areas, as well as a railway track that seems to be being built between Caracas and Valencia. But I have yet to meet a Venezuelan on my journey that does not despise the guy and his government, and let´s face it he ain´t got much tact in international discussions at all. Well, for me, and at least for now, as long as the border with Colombia stays open and they don´t go to war, I´ll be happy…!
Well, tomorrow I´m off to Maracaibo for a stopover on the way to Santa Marta, my first scheduled stop in Colombia.
The former being the capital of Venezuela´s booming oil industry, which really is incredible - when I asked a guy how much petrol costs here, the answer was 4 Bolivares - about 40p. I assumed this was per litre, which is still quite cheap, but it actually was to fill the tank!!! I staggered with disbelief…! Anyway, not gonna spend too much time in Maracaibo, as it also has a reputation for dodginess (though it seems most places in Venezuela do at the moment…!). probably one night, and then on to Colombian lands on Saturday.
So for now, gonna sign off, and get cracking with trying to upload some amazing pictures from my last few days, before any blackouts or Internet disconnections get in my way!
¡hasta luego mis amigos!
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