Sunday, April 3, 2011


Mar 29
Today I learned:
Cement mixers are viable children's toys.
Bottle caps and gravel makes a neat mosaic.
Having 11 Bs. Per $US in reserves while pegged at 4.3 and a fake 64
billion on the balance sheet leads to $2200 iPads, $25 for 12 rolls of
toilet paper, and wheat product shortages.
Margarita has a wildly varied geography.
Freshly crushed coconut juice can't be beat.

Mar 30
Taxi drivers are better drivers than anyone else.
Motorcycle helmets are for pansies.
Sunburns happen despite hiding in the shade.

Mar 31
So I stupid lose my passport, we phone around after hours and to the
cabbie and the hotel and the tour agent and they all go bonkers
searching to the point the cabbie dropped the keys to his house gate
and thus was late picking us up the next day. Laughs all around and
I've been sure to slip them a cash apology.
Fun fact: In Venezuela, you can't make a collect call. This includes
calls to your bank about credit cards or to your consulate about
passports. :)
So later I find it in the room safe of all places.
Anyway, we were tramping around in the jungle around Canaima today
looking at waterfalls with a tour we picked up from the hotel. Well,
the climb kicked the butt of one of our party and I had to just about
carry them back. The boatman hopped to and took us back to the camp
where we were looked after with much water and some of the best BBQ
chicken I've had in my life. Ongoing monitoring and a seat by the fan
for our stricken party member went on until everyone was satisfied
they'd be alright. It's not like they had a clinic out there, but they
did have some experience with out of shape city people sweating it up
in the jungle.
Anyway, it was an Angel Falls flight tour, two bumpy passes by the
falls, before landing. :)
But I'll let you in on a little secret. If you look hard enough, and
wish hard enough, you can see the little house with the balloons up
top. But first you need to believe in fairies and be forever a child.
The pilot of that 16 or so passenger prop plane was an artist. The
descent was predictably lumpy in a craft that small but each time the
wheels hit the ground it was like a ballerina. Great tour, that,
highly recommended, but be in at least half decent shape.

Apr 1
Turns out you shouldn't get into a fist fight with a bootleg currency
exchange guy in Venezuela. This is apparently how a French tourist at
our resort got shot. When the shooting breaks out, count on the staff
and security to run like hell.

Apr 2
Back in La Guaira, on a lucky unsecured wifi, might be my last contact
until Toronto, early Monday morning. I dunno if I'm gonna miss this
Margarita was pretty nice but the whole country feels run down and
stuck in the 70s-80s and moving backwards. Everything is more
expensive than you get it in norteamerica, constant shortages of
essentials. Who in their right mind would export to Venezuela and
accept Bolivars? What's Chavez gonna do? Force American wheat growers
to take that funny money at gunpoint?
Just remember to leave your fancy pants camera at home, bring your $99
Wal Mart special. Your Blackberry makes you a target. Outside at night
is a no go in Caracas, although Margarita was a lot more laid back,
also a good hub for tours all over. Your tour guide in the resort will
likely 'know a guy' buying $ though the black market rate in Margarita
will be lower than elsewhere due to the prevalence of tourists, alas,
such hardship.
Nice things I can say about Caracas is the fine dining experiences.
And you speak Spanish, right?

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