Venezuela: Chavez, arepas y culitos!



Well, almost a month has passed by and my time in Venezuela has come to an end. During the last two weeks, we visited the Andean region of Merida, the historically important area of Carabobo and the colonial town of Coro.

I have to say that my expectations of Venezuela were a lot higher than what I found. First, the figure of Chavez. There are a lot of things about his controversial political figure. I had a lot of curiosity to see if his Socialism of the XXI Century was working. The truth is: it´s not working. It is unfair to deny the good “intentions” or ideals that the model can have, but it doesn´t work. Just one Venezuelan, from the hundreds I met, is happy with the government and that´s because he works for it. In general, there is a huge discontent with the situation and even worse, a vivid paranoia because of the high levels of delicuency and unsafeness in the cities.The cost of life is extremely high. The inflation is about 28%. Yes, the petrol is the cheapest in the world. One litre of petrol cost 0.08p, one litre of water 80p! But people can´t drink petro, can they?

One aspect that I wasn´t dissapointed with was the food. Venezuelan food is extremely delicious and diverse. The more traditional and versatile dish is the “arepa”. Arepas is a sort of corn bread and it can be accompanied by almost whatever you want to put in it. They taste so good. Others delicious dishes are: Cachapas, Pan de Jamon, Pasteles de Trucha, Casabe, Tropical fruits, and any home-made lunch, I really enjoyed tasting.

Finally, for my friends who asked me to report about the Venezuelan female beauty. First, I found it hilarious that guys refer to the girls as ´Culitos´ which means: ´Little Asses´. It´s not offensive, even the girls use the term. The irony is that, as a general rule, Venezuelan girls don´t have culitos, their asses are big! Venezuela has a strong reputation for beautiful women. Their contestants in Miss Universe are always finalists and they usually win most of the beauty competitions. However, as an Uruguayan friend said to my Venezuelan friend, “where are they? hiding?”.

Anyway, Venezuela was a beautiful experience. It has an amazing natural wealth and beautiful places. When you meet people, one to one, they are in general very expresive, friendly, funny and expontaneous. I made lots of new friends and I really hope things get better. Everybody is hoping a change, and the change has to come quick and it has to be big!.

Next stop, my second motherland: Colombia.



Bueno, casi un mes ha pasado y mi tiempo en Venezuela ha llegado a su fin. Durante las últimas dos semanas, visitamos la región andina de Mérida, la zona histórica de Carabobo y la ciudad colonial de Coro.

Tengo que decir que mis expectativas de Venezuela eran mucho más altas de lo que he encontré. En primer lugar, la figura de Chávez. Hay un montón de cosas acerca de su controversial figura política . Tenía mucha curiosidad de ver si su socialismo del siglo XXI funciona. La verdad es que no funciona. Es injusto negar las buenas “intenciones” o los ideales que el modelo puede tener, pero no funciona. Sólo un venezolano, de los cientos que conocí, está feliz con el gobierno y eso es porque trabaja para él. En general, hay un enorme descontento con la situación y peor aún, una paranoia social enorme debido a los altos niveles de delicuencia e inseguridad. El costo de la vida es extremadamente alto. La inflación está alrededor del 28%. Si, la gasolina es la más barata del mundo. Un litro de gasolina cuesta 10 centavos de dolar, un litro de agua 1 dolar! Pero la gente no toma gasolina, verdad?

Un aspecto que no me decepcionó fue la comida. La comida venezolana es muy deliciosa y variada. El plato más tradicional y versátil es la “arepa”. Arepas son una especie de pan de maíz y puede ser acompañado con lo que sea. Tienen un sabor muy bueno. Otros platos deliciosos son: Cachapas, Pan de Jamón, Pasteles de Trucha, Casabe, frutas tropicales, y cualquier tipo de comida hecha en casa, cocinan delicioso.

Por último, para mis amigos que me pidieron un informe acerca de la belleza femenina venezolana. En primer lugar, me pareció divertido a las chicas se les llama “culitos”. No es ofensivo, incluso las chicas usan el término. La ironía es que, como regla general, las chicas venezolanas no tienen culitos, tienen culotes! Venezuela tiene una sólida reputación por las mujeres bellas. Sus concursantes en Miss Universo son siempre finalistas y por lo general ganan la mayoría de los concursos de belleza. Sin embargo, como un amigo uruguayo le dijo a mi amigo venezolano, “¿dónde están? escondidas?”.

De todos modos, Venezuela fue una experiencia muy bonita. Tiene una asombrosa riqueza natural y hermosos lugares. Cuando te encuentras con la gente, uno a uno, son muy expresivos, amistosos y chistosos. Hice un montón de nuevos amigos y realmente espero que las cosas mejoren. Todo el mundo está esperando un cambio, y el cambio tiene que venir rápido y tiene que ser grande!.

La siguiente parada, mi segunda patria: Colombia.


Mount Roraima – the diary


Day 1 9:00 at St Elena. Met the rest of the group: 5 Brazilians, 1 Venezuelan, 1 British, 1 Spanish and us (2 Ecuadorians). 2 Land Rovers took us 80km inside La Gran Sabana to the community of Panatepuy. Checked-in the National Park. Little argument with guard who didn’t want to let us take our djembe (drum) with us but after some strong attitude, the grumpy guard turned into a very friendly fellow and the djembe came with us. 12 km trekking, generally flat. Took us 4 hours. First camp by dawn. Beautiful full moon. Quick wash in the river. Delicious dinner. Every body on their tents by 19:00.


Day 2 Sunrise by 4:30. Clear skies. Beautiful views of the tepuys (Roraima and Kukenan). Nice breakfast. Trekking started at 7:00 for 5 hours. Uphill. Last hour of trekking under heavy rain. Very basic camp. Rain stopped. Quiet afternoon, reading a book, playing cards. Nice dinner. Daniel got sick. Nevertheless, we played some music with the djembe and my charango. Heavy rain started falling. We were blamed for it! Rained all night. 1 German and 1 Danish joined the group.


Day 3 Cloudy skies. Breakfast at 6:00. Started trekking at 7:00. Ascent. Last climbing section, very steep. Rain all the way up. Wet and soaked. Got to the top earlier than others. Got to wait 1 hour for them. Top of Roraima is prehistorical looking, unique, misty and foggy. Storm started. When all the group got to the top we walked for another hour under heavy storm to our camp. Lighting and thundering very closed to us. Saw rocks being hit by thunder (freaking scary). Got to the camp. Rain stopped. Went to explore some of the area. Rained again. Soaked. All clothes and bag wet. Frustrating day. After dinner, sleeping by 20:00.


Day 4 Didn’t sleep well. Cloudy skies again and very fogy. I feel like if I have a cold. Went for a long walk but felt with fever. Didn’t enjoy it as I wanted to. Although, Roraima is unique. It feels like if a dinosaur will appear anytime. Went back to the camp for lunch. I slept all afternoon after taking some tablets. Rest of the group went for a walk. I woke up feeling better but morally down. I don’t like being ill. Dinner and bed, better said, sleeping bag.


Day 5 Descent day. Woke up at 5:00. Part of the group went to the view point of the Kukenan. We couldn’t see much because of the fog. Recorded video clip for Reverso traveler. Descent walk started at 8:00. Good weather. Dangerous descent. The path was extremely wet. 8 hours walking with a break for lunch. All clothes and shoes still wet. Arrived to camp around 16:00. Extremely tired. Washed at the river. Everybody was exhausted but wanting to socialise. Rum, wine and cards kept us awake up to 22:00. It’s raining.


Day 6 Woke up at 5am. Nice breakfast at 6am. Last walk, 4 hours. Back to point 0 by 11am. Great feeling. Land Rovers waiting for us. Took us to another community, San Francisco, for delicious lunch. On the way back to St. Elena, we stopped at the waterfall of the Jaspe. Beautiful coloured rocks. Back to the town. End of expedition. Next stop: Merida. It’ll take us 2 days to get there. Venezuelan nature has plenty of what Venezuelan society lacks of: peace.

7 days in Venezuela


View of Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela. (the Orinoco river passes by)

(En Español abajo)

So! The flight was delayed. We arrived in Caracas at night. Caracas has the reputation of being one of the most dangerous cities in the continent. I was unease. We took the bus to the city, took the metro to the intercity bus station. First surprise, there were not seats available to the destination we needed: Puerto Ordaz. We tried another company, the same situation. We didn’t want to spend the night in Caracas, the only option was to go to the Terminal Oriente. An old man listened to us planning the route and interrupted us: ‘Muchachos! Don’t go there, you will get robbed for sure’. Wow! The guy was serious. He talked to the lady in the counter, she put us in the waiting list. The time arrived and there were two seats available! One of them was of a lady who was sent out of the bus because carrying a puppy. At the moment of paying, we were short of money. We had exchanged very little because the official rate at the airport is a rip-off. The worker didn’t wanna help. We were gonna lose our seats. Guess who saved us? The lady with the puppy! Our night was saved by the old man and the lady with the puppy. I really hope life pays them back wherever they are.

Venezuela has a situation with exchanging currency. The government controls the rate which is shamelessly expensive! Therefore, there is a ‘parallel’ market, better called black market, where dollars are exchanged in a more realistic and reasonable rate. The advantage for the locals is that through the black market they can access to foreign currency, otherwise, the process of getting it is more complicated than going through a divorce!

Safe in Puerto Ordaz, we met our host: Gabriel. The rest of the week has been peaceful and blessed. Gabriel’s family made us feel at home. We explored Puerto Ordaz with them. Unfortunately, the situation with safety is complex and the family looked after us very well. 3 days ago we came to St Elena de Uairen, a little town near the border with Brazil. We are here to climb the Mount Roraima, one of the unique things that Venezuela has. The expedition lasts 6 days. We start tomorrow and I plan to write my next blog about it. At the moment, just to say that Venezuela has beautiful people, amazing music, extremely delicious food, but unfortunately, a sad political and social reality. I was expecting a different one.


Entonces. El vuelo se retrasó. Llegamos a Caracas por la noche. Caracas tiene la reputación de ser una de las ciudades más peligrosas del continente. Yo estaba intranquilo. Tomamos el autobús a la ciudad, el metro hasta la estación de autobuses interurbanos. Primera sorpresa, no había asientos disponibles para nuestro destino: Puerto Ordaz. Tratamos en otra compañía, la misma situación. No queríamos pasar la noche en Caracas, la única opción era ir a la Terminal de Oriente. Un anciano nos escuchó y nos interrumpió: “Muchachos! No vayan allá, los roban de seguro”. Wow! El hombre hablaba en serio. Habló con la señora en el mostrador y nos puso en la lista de espera. La hora llegó y había dos asientos disponibles! Uno de ellos era de una señora que no pudo viajar ya que llevaba un perrito. Al momento de pagar, nos faltaba dinero. Habíamos cambiado muy poco porque la tasa oficial en el aeropuerto es una estafa. La señorita no quiso ayudarnos. Íbamos a perder nuestros asientos. Adivinen quien nos salvó? La dama del perrito! Nuestra noche fue salvada por el anciano y la dama del perrito. Realmente espero que la vida les bendiga dondequiera que estén.

Venezuela tiene una situación complicada con el cambio de divisas. El gobierno controla la tasa, que es descaradamente cara. Por lo tanto, existe un mercado “paralelo”, mejor llamado mercado negro, donde los dólares se intercambian en una tasa más realista y razonable. La ventaja para los locales es que a través del mercado negro pueden acceder a la moneda extranjera, de lo contrario, para obtenerla, el proceso es más complicado que un divorcio!

A salvos en Puerto Ordaz, nos encontramos con nuestro anfitrión: Gabriel. El resto de la semana ha sido tranquila. La familia de Gabriel nos hizo sentir como en casa. Exploramos Puerto Ordaz con ellos. Por desgracia, la situación de seguridad es delicada y la familia se aseguró de cuidarnos bien. Hace 3 días vinimos a Santa Elena de Uairén, un pequeño pueblo cerca de la frontera con Brasil. Estamos aquí para subir al Monte Roraima, una de las cosas únicas que Venezuela tiene. La expedición tiene una duración de 6 días. Empezamos mañana y tengo la intención de escribir mi siguiente blog sobre ella. Por el momento, sólo me queda decir que Venezuela tiene gente hermosa, música excelente, comida muy deliciosa, pero, por desgracia, una triste realidad política y social. Yo estaba esperando una diferente.

In transit

The journey’s started and our first stop is Caracas. Well, Bogota – in transit. Im writing from Bogota’s airport. Strange feelings. Mixture of fear and anxiety. The only way to deal with them is writing them!

El viaje ha empezado y nuestra primera parada es Caracas. Bueno, Bogota en transito. Escribo desde su aereopuerto. Sentimientos raros. Mezcla de temor y ansiedad. La única forma de manejarlos es escribièndolos!