Feb. 24, 2006: The Rest of the Story

The Rest of the Story
Friday, February 24, 2006

Hi, all
    Well, not all, actually, this email is only going out to those of you who won’t be alarmed by my upcoming travel plans (mom doesn’t get this one!)
    I’m getting on a bus to Colombia tonight, hoping to get to Santa Marta by Saturday afternoon to catch most of Carnaval there. I’ve heard wonderful things about Colombia from other travelers and Colombians I met at the forum. It sounds beautiful, and I’m excited to explore the land, culture, and election-time politics (elections are March 12). Yes, I promise to avoid guerrilla activity! I’d like to learn more about the reality of the country and write about it, since most of what we hear in the States is just drugs and fighting.
    I had been hoping to stop in Maracaibo, Venezuela, on the way, where indigenous groups are working to protect their land from coal mining. Some folks I was hanging out with in Merida just did a 4-day trek into the jungle to visit remote villages and see the land that the government considers "uninhabited" and expendable, which I hear is incredibly beautiful. But since I also want to experience Carnaval, I’m now planning to get to Maracaibo on the way back in a few weeks instead. But I think it’s a side of the story that can’t be left out in exploring the current changes in Venezuela.
    So off I go. I’m excited. In deciding to go, I suddenly realized that a year ago, the idea of heading off to Colombia by myself without even a guidebook wouldn’t have sounded the least bit appealing, so it was a nice realization of my increased comfort and confidence in solo traveling and in my Spanish skills. It turns out that I won’t actually be going by myself, my friend Kim decided to join me last night. I probably won’t write anything to the list ’til I’m back in Venezuela, so as not to worry the family, but I’ll be answering individual emails. And I just finally got on Skype. If you haven’t heard of it, check out skype.com. If you can find a fast computer with a microphone (not always so easy here) you can call anywhere in the world almost free.

love and cachapas,
asha