Meet Venezuela – Venezuela 5

Its been awesome in Merida despite a few crazy incidents. I have beenstaying with 2 gay guys from Belgium and weve been doing all of ouractivities with these 2 guys from Spain. Ive gotten a little tired oftheir sense of humor just because its 4 guys trying to be better thanone another and getting all macho. We went to some great touristdestinations though – a huge tram that goes to the top of the highestpeak in Venezuela (se llama pico bolivar), to the top of anothermountain where it was like 4 degrees C and foggy, and to all themuseums in the city. The Belgian guys seem to have some bad luckbecause they are always losing things or getting them stolen. The othernight, we were walking back to the hotel from a bar and 4 guys camerunning up to us with a gun and 2 knives and told us to give them allour money. I was just carrying a little bit of cash but Jan got out hiswallet and they took all of his money and his ID card. It was a reallyintense moment – the first time I have ever been robbed. We went intothe bar that we were next to and found our Spanish friends. I told themwhat had happened and soon the word spread. Many people came up to meand apologized and said they hoped that I didnt let those fools ruinmy experience in Merida. I asked if I should tell the police buteveryone was convinced that they wouldnt be able to do anything andthat maybe the police would just start asking us for money. Itsdefinitely true that the police are the most corrupt officials inVenezuela. One girl that I met really opened up to me and told me thatshe had been raped by her brothers friends but knew if she went to thepolice they would accuse her of prostitution. I am just hoping that Inever have to have an interaction with the police.   Everyone here has been overwhelmingly friendly and very willingto talk to me about politics and democracy. Everyone has a strongopinion here in Merida because it is one of the richest states with alarge number of opposition members (that is anti-chavez) but there arealso many poor farming communities in the mountains. They have beentelling me that opposition members are constantly complaining aboutChavez until a representative from the national government comes, orthe copa america comes, and then everyone puts on a mask so that thegovernment will give them money. In the local newspapers there arecountless articles about community works and what the students are upto. Its a key region for agriculture because they grow the mostcarrots, garlic, trout and potatoes in the country. It is also a verypopular tourist destination. For these reasons, most of the communityworks go toward improving roads and other means of transportation.   We have been going out to watch all the soccer games in la copaamerica. The finals are tonight and I must admit that Im done sittingaround with a bunch of drunk guys. Last night there were 2 women intheir 40s who were at the bar and they kept watching me so I went to gosay hello. We shared a feminist moment and they invited me to theirhome (they are sisters) for lunch today. It was good to feel somefemale solidarity because Ive found it really hard to meet women.Luckily, Nicole came back from the Amazon last night and now she isstaying with us too. The Spanish guys went on their way and now it isthe 4 of us – the 2 belgian guys, nicole, and I. Its a much betterdinamic than it was before. I think Nicole and I may head out toBarquisimeto and then go into this desert region near a city calledCoro. In the final days before Nicole goes back to the US, we willspend a little more time on the beach so that she is nice and tan uponher return. I will then meet the Belgian guys in Caracas so that we maygo to this socialist organization that we just realized we are all apart of. In Seattle it is called Socialist Alternative but it hasbranches all over the world. The guys are trying to get to know thisbranch in Venezuela in order to report about it at their internationalsocialist summer school in Belgium. No one at the Venezuelan branchspeaks english and my friends dont speak spanish, so I guess I will getto practice my interpretation skills.  Right now I am going to my favorite vegetarian cafe to study andwrite and drink lots of coffee 🙂 Then I will go cheer for Argentina inthe finals and be satisfied that Mexico got 3rd place. BESOS para todos

Posted from Venezuela:

posted Sunday July 2007