Venezuelan observations


Obviously the most important topic to start with!  Basically think of the Latino lover type here a.k.a. sleazeball.  Okay, maybe that’s a tad harsh, actually it’s not really.  The men are quite full on, not necessarily in a problematic way but they are persistent.  They are also very forward in terms of comments and wolf whistles in the street.  Their respective ages appear to make no difference to them with eighty year old wrinklies being quite happy to try to chat you up, presumably working on the law of averages.  The Venezuelan men go to great lengths to woo you, even setting their cars to remote wolf whistle so that they can press a little button as you walk passed their vehicle so that you get an electronic wolf whistle and they get to chuckle without even having to purse their lips.  The girl I went rafting with in Barinas commented that Venezuela is a great place for women with low egos to go as the men seem interested not necessarily in the finer specimens of womankind but -any- specimens of womenkind.  This becomes increasingly attractive to them if the woman in question is from foreign climes.



In Chile I was intrigued by the fashion sense displayed by a lot of the indigenous females.  This sometimes involved wearing obscenely tight clothes without the appropriate figure.  This was even worse in Venezuela where the trend seemed to be buying trousers, normally jeans, about three sizes too small so that you had not one but several muffin tops.  Strangely this was not reserved for the overweight with even the slightest girls getting in on the trend by squeezing every ounce of fat over their waistbands.  It was a common sight to see women getting out of cars and fighting with their flies as they desperately tried to get their trousers together which would not do up in the seated position. 

Breasts are also important and should be on display at all times.  There are a lot of very large specimens in Venezuela which led me to wonder why so much money was being spent on boob jobs when it could, and should, have been spent on proper causes like, well, liposuction!  Large boobs were even displayed by mannequins in shop windows, presumably so you could see what your plastic pals would look like in that revealing top with the muffin top falling out of the bottom.



Apart from the sleaze and lack of fashion sense, the people in Venezuela were generally a friendly bunch.  People in Caracas were arguably less so but this is somewhat normal in capital cities.  There was also an apparent confusion in Caracas towards Westerners with locals seemingly wondering what you were doing there, which actually isn’t too absurd a question to be fair.  It was not uncommon to spend a day in Caracas without seeing any other gringos which would explain why locals found your presence a little confusing.


Food and Drink

Akin to Chile, alcoholic drink portions seemed to be rather large and alcohol from shops, especially spirits, was worryingly cheap.  Fruit juice was surprisingly good in Venezuela.

The food in Venezuela was good but it was very evident why there were so many stomachs on parade.  The Venezuelans seem to think that in order to eat something, and by something I mean anything, it must first be deep fried.  This seems to extend beyone the empanadas and the like to practically every dietary ingredient.  I’m not the healthiest eater but, after a short time, I was craving salads and the like.


The country and climate

Venezuela was an outstanding country in terms of its flora, fauna and natural beauty.  I adored my time in Los Llanos and Angel Falls was, without doubt, one of the most amazing experiences on my entire trip.  From the Andes mountains to waterfalls, to great savannahs, to rainforest and Carribean coastlines, Venezuela really has got it all.  Couple this with vast mineral and oil reserves and you really should have one of the richest, most sorted countries around.  There are several jokes around about the country and its assets and the fact that its downfall is the Venezuelans.  Wow, that was hilarious, I really should be a comedian.  Anyway, jokes aside, Venezuela is absolutely stunning.

When I was in Venezuela the weather was perfect.  There was some rain in places but the temperature was lovely overall.



The money situation, as I think I have mentioned on more than one occasion is slightly odd.  Firstly they have a new currency and are still operating the new and old currency in tandem.  Although one is divisible by one thousand of the other, this is still confusing at times with prices and the like.  The black market is an entity unto itself and exchange rates vary more between the black market rate and official rate than any other country I know of in the World.  My advice if visiting is to take plenty of U.S. dollars.  Although I am obviously not condoning any kind of illegal behaviour here, it may conceivably be safer to use shop or hotel changers rather than those on the street, despite a small difference in the exchange rates.



Although I haven’t got a lot to say about it I think that this deserves a mention in its own right.  Basically, petrol prices in Venezuela are the cheapest in the World with you being able to fill your tank for around a dollar.  Apprarently there was a big uproar when Chavez put the price up by a quarter of a cent or something.  Weirdly, engine oil did not seem to be so cheap.


Politics and policing

You may have gathered that Venezuela is not the most stable place in the World.  The president, Chavez, has an almost diehard, fundamentalist following and the rest of the country seem to despise him.  I was in the country for elections and great trouble was expected.  Although the riots and problems in the towns and city were not as bad as expected they were apparent and there were incidents such as armed, masked men on motorbikes stealing ballot boxes and the like.

The Police in Venezuela are not the most objective bunch.  In Caracas a lot of foreigners from my hostel had serious problems with the Police with extortion and Police station ordeals.  It was concerning that, in the murder and kidnap capital of the World, the Police did not seem to be the first port of call for you to run to for protection if in danger.  People would say that if you were robbed you had two problems, the first being being robbed and the second being reporting it to the Police afterwards.  It is perhaps worth noting here that I did not meet any women who had problems with the Police which may point to some weird gender issue, or alternatively luck.  The army also seemed to have their fair share of staff who liked to increase their income in interesting ways.  I did not have problems with either but it’s probably worth bearing in mind if you plan to visit.


Venezuela and tourism

As a whole Venezuela is not set up for tourism and, at times, you feel that the country is not only not trying to attract it but almost actively disuade it.  In other countries, for example, transport is set up for tourists but in Venezuela this does not exist.  Having said that, the bus network is brilliant so there is no problem if you can speak basic Spanish.  There are some companies offering tours in places like Los Llanos and Ciudad Bolivar, but you have to be self sufficient in most cases.  Although this may seem daunting it was one of the things I really liked about Venezuela and to me made it feel like more of an adventure and a “real travelling experience”.  I have met a lot of people since who have told me that they wouldn’t even consider going to Venezuela because of the difficulty of travelling there, the crime and corruption – to me this is a real shame.  Yes, you need to be aware of these things and I would maybe not advise travelling across Venezuela for a month of R and R or a family break with young children but it was such an amazing experience, interesting as hell and one of the most beautiful countries I have encountered. 

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