I'm staying on the Caribbean coastline of Venezuela in the north, at a village called Playa Colorada, enrolled with a language school called 'The Travelling Classroom', which incorporates intensive Spanish classes with adventure sports and expeditions around the country. So far, our days have been spent scuba diving, hiking, meringue dancing, sea kayaking and of course, a 4 hour Spanish lesson. The scenery is breathtaking. Sandy beaches, turquoise seas, rainforests and mountains encircle the camp. And yet, rubbed up against the natural beauty, there is the smell of petrol, the beer bottles on the beach, and everywhere the stray dogs scrounging for food; some pregnant, some with three legs, all near to death.
From working with beautiful, healthy huskies in the pristine North, with its clean lakes, untouched forests, vast stillness and castigating attitudes to littering, I couldn't have come to somewhere that is more different. Not only is my body trying to adjust (minus 35 to plus 35...) but my mind as well.
Venezuela seems to be a country of dynamic contrasts. The bright white shirts of the school children set against the dust of dirt roads. Paying 3bsfs (5p) to fill up a full tank of petrol, and paying 20bsfs for a bottle of water. It is too dangerous to leave our camp at night, and yet every local I have spoken to has fallen over themselves in their efforts to be friendly, kind and generous; every morning as I walk past the local shop I get a free treat "por la gringa rubia!!" Amidst the grime, the corruption, the poverty, this country strikes me as being more of a living breathing entity than anywhere else I have been, it is alive in itself. The meringue, the salsa, the laughter on every corner, the complete unashamedness in doing whatever you want to do whatever anyone may think, the yearly Christmas competition to paint your house the brightest colour, speeding along a narrow coastal road on a rattling old bus with people hanging out the doors and music on full volume it all just screams of colour, vitality, life.
Viva la vida!
|Walking through the village|
|From the hilltop over our village|
|Diving in Mochimo National park|
|The price of petrol here...... utter madness|