Saturday, March 12, 2011

Guiria-Miami

So, the boat to Trinidad did not work out. The carnival was approaching, the festivities were due to start the next day. People told us that Guiria’s carnival is considered one of the best on the whole coast. We had our reservations, though. We had no desire to stay any longer in Guiria to see the carnival. True, we had a good place to stay, but we had absolutely nothing to do in town. We had no access to the house’s bathroom, so performing our daily functions became a real task. We had to plan in advance or wait until the nightfall to… you know. The idle sitting around our tent all day long got very old by day 6, so we made up our minds to move. The most agreeable option, we reasoned, was to fly from Caracas to Miami.
When we told our host Kira that we were leaving, she broke into tears. She really did not want us to leave! She hugged us, we exchanged emails and she hopped on her motorbike and was off.
We started walking to the highway and as we were passing an idling truck we asked the driver if he could give us a lift out of town. He said:
“Sure! Jesus loves you! He is in your heart!”
The day being Sunday, the local Evangelical group was getting together to go to church. We drove around town picking up the believers and then headed out. We were dropped off at a turnoff and quickly flagged down the next ride. A few more quick and short rides got us deposited near a police check point.
For the carnival time the “security” on the roads was increased. In reality, it meant groups of casually dressed men carrying shotguns standing in the middle of the road. Some wore bullet-proof vests while others had nothing but a radio or a pistol. Their main task was to question the passing vehicles:
“Where are you going?”
“Guiria” or “Carupano”, depending on the direction
“Ok, you may pass”
We baked in the hot sun just past the check point and wandered how the men did not get heat strokes: none of them wore a hat!
Soon enough a car stopped with a family inside. An elderly man was behind the wheel and his beautiful young wife (she looked 25 years younger at least) held a year old baby on her knees. The family gave an impression of being well off.
The conversation flowed and soon we learned that Argenis worked for PDVSA (the national oil company that was expropriated by the “revolutionary” government some years ago). He was an important man in the company: the whole Paria peninsula PDVSA operations were under his control.
“I am on duty this weekend, supervising the Guiria division” he shared with us, “that’s why my wife and I here decided to go to Carupano to pick up my mother-in-law. It is nicer to spend the carnival with your family.”
That was an interesting logical connection but we agreed that it was indeed a good idea to spend carnival with the family.
Soon enough, Argenis steered the conversation to politics:
“Do you think it’s a dictatorship here in Venezuela?” he asked straight.
Without pausing for a second for us to reply, he continued:
“No, it is a lie. What is a dictatorship? A dictatorship is when people are killed, when they are treated badly, when there are soldiers on the streets… None of this happens in Venezuela, right?”
We had no desire to argue with such delusions so we agreed, of course, none of these things happen in Venezuela...
“In any case”, Argenis continued, “if it is a dictatorship, I like it. I am a Chavista, you know. I am with the revolution! You see my cap? It is red! That is the color of the revolution…”
We have heard similar words before, if you remember, but in a different setting.
“I always pick up people,” carried on Argenis, “you know why? Because this car that I drive (he lightly tapped the steering wheel of his brand new Toyota sedan) is not really mine! It belongs to the people of Venezuela! So why not share?”
This phrase was spoken as we sped through a very poor village. Hens and people scrambled out of our way. Apparently, the shocking contrast between his shiny ride and the mud walls and tin roofs of the village huts escaped our driver.“And look at the roads here in Venezuela” Argentis was going full throttle by now, “look how many pot holes there are! It’s going to wreck my car! There is so much oil in our country, so much asphalt, but the roads are still as bad as they were before. Why?”
“Obviously, the abundance of the resources is not the problem here…” George carefully suggested.
“Of course not, but I can see no other obstacles to improve the roads!”
“Eeeh… Corrupt… I mean, I have no idea either.”
We drove in silence for some time, each pondering the mystery of bad roads. A cell phone rang. The young wife pulled out three different Blackberries to see which one was ringing.
“Oh, hi mom. Yeah, we are getting close, we’ll see you soon!”
Argenis had just enough time to drop us off on the other side of town. We wished him to spend a pleasant carnival and watched him speed away to pick up his mother-in-law.
By the end of that day we have arrived to Cumana, a good sized city. It was the carnival night and the downtown was blocked off for traffic. Multitudes of people were already gathering along the carnival route and the drinking has begun. The night was falling but we still had no place to sleep. We aimlessly walked through empty city streets when we came up to a fire station.
“Firemen, may be we can camp at a fire station tonight?”
The firemen were friendly but it was “prohibited to camp” on the station territory. Instead, they suggested that we go to the military post and ask there. So we did. A young military commander came to greet us. He said he was really sorry, but the law “prohibits anybody camping on the military territory”. He then suggested we try our luck with the police office further down the road.
“Yeah, right” we thought.
Unexpectedly, the police chief was young, slim and quick. He instantly grasped what it was that we wanted and invited us to camp inside the police station!
Having set up the tent, we went across the street to witness the so-much-talked-about carnival. It was a sad scene. The music was blaring hard, but few people seemed to enjoy their time. The carnival participants dragged by without smiles as if they were out to pick up some groceries. The costumes were a poor imitation of the Brazilian ones. Some were impressive feathery constructions, but more than a half of participants wore every-day t-shirts and shorts. They marched by us, talking on their cell phones and waiting for the whole thing to be over. Having observed the procession for some time, we went to sleep. Or, rather, tried to sleep. As soon as the procession ended, the music got turned up a notch, people kept on drinking and some started to dance. The party lasted until 4 in the morning.
A few quick rides the next day and a long wait before our last ride in South America came about. It was around sunset when Felix and Deborah pulled over for us. A young couple, they were on their way from a beach to Caracas. We enjoyed each others company and the three-hour drive to Caracas went by quickly. Once in the metropolis, they dropped us off at a hotel and we agreed to meet for a beer the next day.
In the morning, a quick visit to an Internet café revealed that one out of our 5 CS requests was accepted by Laura and Luis. We went over to their place and showed up just in time for lunch:)
Laura and Luis are practicing psychologists and are a very cool couple. They fully entrusted us their house from the start: we had the keys, we were free to move around and we could eat as many mangos as fell from the mango tree in the back yard. Luis is a painter as well as a psychologist, and the house is full of his paintings, interesting design ideas and books. We were very happy just to stay inside for the whole time, playing with the dog, reading and just enjoying not moving anywhere.On our last night at their place, Laura gave us a quick talk about one of their projects. Laura and Luis have developed a system called Neurocodex. Laura briefly explained it to us and taught us a few techniques to “get the problems out of your head”. Empowered by this new way of seeing things, we went to sleep.
24 hours later we stepped on the American soil. The airport was quiet – it was 1 in the morning. We pulled out our sleeping bags and slept the rest of the night on the comfortable couches they have all around the Miami International Airport.

6 comments:

  1. WaOu, it looks like that everyone is taking a plane quite in the same time : La Mouette in LA, You in Miami and US soon in salavador de bahia then in Germany by the end of the month.
    Good luck with the hitchiking in US <3

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  2. welcome back to the continent! Will you stop by montreal one of these days? Take care!

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  3. Cloe: haha, we all had enough of South America:)
    Curtis: Thank you and see you soon!

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  4. eeehhh! amigoss!!!
    se me fueron para el norte nomas! jeje.
    les mando un gran abrazote y buen regreso con la gente querida de alla!
    jony se hizo "Murguero" y se fue para Estados Unidos tambien jej.
    salutess hermanitos!!

    Maxi (loquito de buenos aires)

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  5. EEE!!! Loco!!!
    Mucha gracia che, en realidad tenemos muy muy buena suerte en nuestro viaje ahora, todo chevere!
    Dice Hola a Jorge y Claudia porfa!!!

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  6. Guys any plans for West Coast?

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