Woe is me…Venezuela

So, you’ve probably noticed my lack of entries during our almost two month stint in Venezuela. Due in part to the excitement and activities planned with my husband’s thirteen siblings and extended family, but more out of frustration. Additional, as a country with a watchful eye, I have been reluctant to muse, or especially,  critique while still resting within its borders.

As gently as it can be stated, Venezuela would have not been on my list of places to visit, much less spend a significant amount of our trip in, had I not married a wonderful man from this incredibly complex country. I’m having a difficult time summing up my emotions when it comes to this place….The family reunion and welcoming to my husband’s family, the intrinsic value placed in/on family, and the outpouring of pride of country and political leaning all lend themselves to the side of Venezuela that I love. It is a diverse country, of land, of people, of wealth. It’s plights are many, and during our stint here we have been on the receiving end of many.

Locals jest that Venezuela is the “land of lines.” I concur, that it truly is. Police are not respected, stoplights have no meaning, and no matter where you go, there is a line to wait in before your arrival. Without going into the specifics as to why, the current political situation in Venezuela is caliente, and very volatile.

While we are unable to acquire flights out of the country, I’m trying to remain positive. Our extended stay here has cut three weeks out of our itinerary, and is significantly altering our travel plans. Hopefully within the next week we will have a way out; to anywhere, and continue our adventure. For now, I’m going to try to reflect on the experiences and adventures we have enjoyed in Venezuela. Overlooking the negatives, (which I will try to address with more clarity at a later date,) there is magical culture, amazing beaches, good food, and the spiritual oasis that is the Amazon. I revel in diction and dictation, but find that if a place can render me speechless, it has found a home in my heart. Venezuela has its place. Image

Lake Maracaibo and the Maracaibo bridge. Though today, technically not a lake, it is the largest lake in Venezuela. The bridge, according to Wikipedia, is “the longest prestressed concrete bridge in the world.”

Districto Commercial en Curacao

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IMG_3028Districto Commercial en Curacao

Curacao is a major Caribbean cruise ship sea port. It has been interesting to see the differences from one side of the island to the other. The port side consists of very nicely appointed building, painted in fashionable colors, the streets are clean, you pay for parking, there are market street vendors, and stands for tourist curiosities. Street stands work on the barter system, which I apparently need to get re-accustomed to, because I got dupped with my first purchase. I bought a small tourist trinket for three bucks and later found someone selling them three-for-five. Oh well. Lesson learned.
Having made our way to Maracaibo, VZ it is interesting to compare the two country’s a similarities and differences when it comes to their most valuable commodity: crude oil. Both the island and the country are littered with ugly refineries. In both, the air is thick in the evenings from the constant burning in the plants. Their economies are both reliant on the industry. As a consumer of petroleum I recognize it’s current significance on a global scale. But I am also someone who would like the tides to change; for us as a global community to realize and actuate the use of alternative fuels. I can’t personally claim to have much knowledge of these other options, but I believe that our dependence on petroleum has a gross political, social and environmental impact. My friend recently sent me this article about Venezuela’s tar pits and I found it to be a very informative read. http://oilsandstruth.org/china-explains-move-out-canada-venezuela. The major differences between Curacao’s petroleum and Venezuela’s is price. Venezuela’s government has chosen to restrict its oil exports, so gasoline within the country is very, very inexpensive. Yesterday, we paid twenty cents a gallon for gas. While in Curacao, gasoline prices are comparable to those in the states. This is primarily because Curacao exports the majority of their petroleum.
Fruit. Wow. Tropical fruits are my favorite! And said fruits, whilst in the tropics; the best. Giant avocados, guanabana, tamarind, duran, pineapples, plantains, strawberries, mango, banana, and coconuts…I’m in fruit heaven! In both Curacao and Venezuela, fruits are plentiful, but imported. They are imported from Columbia, El Salvador, Chile, Brazil and Panama. Curacao is completely reliant on import industry for almost all of their commodities. The people making money in these countries (either work in government) or have import businesses that take advantage of this reliance.