Sunday, March 27, 2011

Random Blurbs

Following blurbs written on a notepad due to no internet in La Guaira.

Political Asylum:
We spent the morning at the apartment of a lady who's done the
diplomatic circuit in years before Chavez, and since does document
interpretation from her apartment. Over a mixed pastry breakfast we
were shown her political rally bag with the national flag and the
badges and first aid goods and the vinegar and rags for tear gas
defense with a wonderful view of Mount Avila out the window. We talked
about the upcoming Venezuelan census and the fear it will lead to the
forcible 'reallocation' of homes based on number of people and number
of domicile rooms. We concluded with a left hand toast to a Cuba Libre
and carried on with our day.
Later, the government of Canada fell to the first successful
non-confidence motion in Commonwealth history.
I later telephoned our breakfast host and asked for political asylum
and offered to be counted as a resident during the census. I don't
think either of us will stop giggling over that for a long time.

Wild Ride:
So, yeah, I get into a truck with real seat belts and off we go, me
the only Anglo in this part of the two car convoy to the airport to
drop off the sister in law's mother. So being good hosts, they pass
back a mixed whiskey drink and off we go into the streets of Caracas,
the driver passing the other drink back and forth to his wife. Is that
a check engine light? :) Again Caracas is a mixture of fascinating
urban decay and renewal and coloured light fountains dancing to music.
All that and thankfully only one face full of booze as we bounced and
jounced over hill and pothole onto the freeway and out of the valley
to the sea.
Once again I surprise everyone around with the breadth of my basic
Spanish and we achieve some basic communication with a mix of Spanish,
French and steadily drunkening pantomime.
I'm not afraid anymore, even without the help of booze, although I
remain wary and alert in the airport. Horay, after the delay in
currency exchange I've been able to spend my first Bolivars. At an
airport fried chicken shack. Nobody there knew if anything drinkable
was caffeinated. At this point, who gives a damn anymore. :)
We see mother off, and pile back into the cars, crack some fresh
beers, and set off to the sister's beach apartment. Pass a few police
checkpoints where we just lower the beers, and away we go past barrios
and parks and the beach crowded with teens pumping tunes from their
cars while the odd police truck cruises by to keep the peace. And
damn, it's hot at sea level, and the beach apartment is really cute.

All Night Party:
When music volume is consistently making a car alarm sound in a gated,
locked, patrolled by man and dog condo compound, the reasonable
response is to turn up the music, right? It's 2:38 am, and the car's
been screaming for 14 hours. Waitaminute. Ricky Martin sings in Spanish?

March 24 - 25

I just can't eat much, so warm. *burp* And this lack of fiber sources
other than plantains and corn is killing my butt.
And rabbit is pretty strong meat.

We were near a barrio today. I have not seen poverty before.
And we're making Chinese food tonight. :) Lotta Chinese in Venezuela.

March 23

So here is mostly wrapped up my first real Latino party. It's 1:12,
music still loud while we clean up. I did what I could until all the
mess was moved into the kitchen, then there were just too many of us
to move.
Besides, my feet hurt.
I like it here despite the general insanity. Gawd we norteamericanos
can stand to learn a thing or two from Latin America. Alas, my
family's about the opposite of touchy feely and about as flexible as
an anvil.
I still liked China a bit better, but I'd definitely come back here
again, provided I was staying with locals.
And oh yeah, picked up at the airport too. The gauntlet of sleazy
operators we had to wade through to reach our waiting party at the
Simon Bolivar was 'interesting'.
I'd never before heard some guy offering currency exchange in the
hushed tones of a drug dealer.
I'm also surprised I remembered as much Spanish as I did.
And ya, Des, Venezuelans are more like Spaniards than Mexicans. Very
elegant people, plus touchy feely. And they prove that it is possible
to have some machismo without a bad attitude. So note to Americanos
paranoid about Latinos moving into your little white bread
subdivisions. Find out first just how much they can teach you about
grace, class, style, and that two men hugging does not equate to
homosexuality. Claro? Cheveret.

March 22

Chief difference between South and North Americans: norteamericanos quarantine food components. Here they eat everything at once after cooking all day. I am so full. :P
There is no heating in this house. Who needs it when it's late spring all year long? The city smells like gas fumes despite all the green; I'm surprised I'm not in allergy hell.
It's not too hot or humid either. We're pretty high above sea level after all.
Big family gathering tomorrow, the sister-in-law's birthday.
And slow, timid people are annoying in traffic circles, no? :) Rule Britannia!
(And Pax Caledonia.)

March 21

Landing at night was really pretty, especially under the light of that
full moon. The mix of white and orange city lights was interesting to
see, and I later learned the white lights are the Barrios, or shanty
towns with housed piled up the sides of the hills stacked several
By and large, my deepest paranoias fed by the western media were let
down, as I was not immediately shot on arrival, nor was the airplane
shot from the sky by rebels. Bother, culture of terror foiled again.
Rupert Murdoch, you lied to me. :(
Still, it says something when every house has bars on all windows,
even in the 'good' neighbourhoods. All houses walled, some with
electric fences. Walled houses, very Spanish/Moorish. Electric fences
and bars, not so much. Good luck escaping an electrical fire with the
ancient wiring. Bonus, though, the outlets are American standard.
We drove around a lot today, no seatbelts and often texting driver
while out in what amounts to pinball machine traffic in a country
where it costs a buck or two to fill your car at a full serve gas pump
and stop signs are suggestions, and made a first stop at a fairly
modern, and huge, shopping mall, had food court Venezeulan food with
the sister-in-law at whose house we're staying, and got me a pair of
shoes. Much love to anxiety disorders, I'd left for the airport in my
slippers convinced I'd be dead within twenty-four hours. If this is
dead, I'll take more of this, please.
So, no, I'm not leaving the house at night.
Fresh baked bread in the morning, however, is heaven.