Feb. 22, 2006: These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things
Wednesday February 22, 2006

Hi there!

    So here are a few of my favorite things so far about Venezuela…
1) all the great people I’ve met
2) that the air is that exact temperature that feels so good on your bare skin
3) the music that is everywhere, and not canned U.S. 80’s hits like in Central America, but rich Afro-Caribbean rhythms and Venezuelan artists
4) eating cachapas (fresh fluffy corn pancakes) from street vendors
     …in Choroni, a little beach town in the north…
5) the postcard-perfect white sand beach surrounded by green mountains jutting up from a warm ocean
6) playing my guitar into the wind on the cliffs overlooking the sea
7) watching raptors hang in the air like kites over the breaking waves and swaying palm trees
8) the little fiesta that forms organically every night on the terrace above the boat launch, with drummers and dancers, travelers and locals selling handmade jewelry, and half the town out enjoying the warm night air
9) wandering through the half-wild cacao forest, looking for ripe papayas, coconut, or breadfruit
10) drinking cocadas on a hot day (thick, cold, sweet coconut-cinnamon batidos sold on the street)
      …in Merida, 8 hours south of Choroni in the Andes…
11) the mystical, timeless feel of the Andean cloudforest
12) all the great veggie restaurants in town
14) how easy it is to get out of town and into nature
15) hiking up into the cloudforest until sunset, when the mist rolls in and everything becomes magical and dreamlike, canopy and vines and birds and butterflies and me all fading into a thousand layers of green and gray… then letting the fireflies light my way back down
16) apricots and mangos and papayas and passion fruit and strawberries and guavas and fresh berry smoothies…
17) above the treeline, above the cloudline, above the glacier, reaching Pico Espejo, almost 15,000 feet (4765 m).
18) reading a book in the hammock after a long day, music on the street below, mountains towering above
      …at the World Social Forum and in Caracas…
19) being welcomed at the Caracas airport with a hospitality room, free coffee, water, and transport to downtown; volunteers on the street to answer questions and help us find our way; free metro passes
20) the wonderful family I stayed with
21) all the inspiring people from all over the world doing so much to make the world a better place
22) being somewhere where so many previously apolitical people are actually optimistic, or at least interested, in their government (and a minority of mostly richer folks who are just scared) (but I’m going to save my political analysis until the end of my stay, so I can talk to more people before drawing conclusions)
21) the strangeness of seeing so many people regularly take to the streets to APPLAUD their government (we never hear THAT about Venezuela in the U.S. news! I have mixed feelings about it.)
22) really good quality coffee and cacao from local cooperatives available everywhere
23) the bright colors of houses that rise into the hills like a painting above the city
      …in Miraflores…
24) the flower-filled canyon with its sheer rock walls and clear cool water
25) the little towns off the beaten track, sometimes charming, sometimes just ordinary, where life goes on as usual…

    I could go on and on. I really love it here. The last month has been incredible. I feel really fortunate- I always seem to find myself in what feels like the perfect place with the perfect people. Of course, it’s not like it’s all been rosy. There are things I don’t like, most notably the poverty and frequency of muggings in Caracas, long winding bus rides, the machismo of the culture, Reggaeton music, the lack of emissions controls and city planning, and how difficult it is to find good dark chocolate despite the ubiquitousness of cacao for hot chocolate…

    But all in all I have few complaints. I’ve been really happy here. Everyone’s even on the same time schedule as me, believe it or not, so I’m never late! (I’m actually usually early!) People are friendly, life is laid back, and the sun always shines from a clear blue sky. Life is good. I wake up every day with peace in my heart, a smile on my face, and a sparkle in my eyes for whatever adventures the day may offer…

    I hope the days are offering you all good adventures, too, and that the sun is shining in your hearts like it is here.

Much love,