An unknown destination Merida in the Andes.
MERIDA (RBV) - I left town on an early flight in the morning, taking in front of a pink dawn and an hour later we were coming down in the Andes.
Merida sit perched at 5,000 feet on a semi-tropical plateau flanked by two rivers. The airport is at the center of the city, a postage stamp track surrounded by roads and houses. Outside,the air was fresh and sweet mountain, a world away from the sweltering temperatures of the coast.
Two mountain ranges, the Sierra Nevada and the Sierra La Head, shoulder blades as running north through this range of the Andes. While maintaining their beaks in the snow, her skirts are carpeted with rain forest and fields dotted with coffee, wheat and potatoes. Merida, the highest in the world and longest cable car runs until Pico Espejo,just under 15,650 feet Venezuela is present, however, only three of the four sections of work.
Pick up my rental car turned out to be a complicated affair. A young woman made a phone call to the capital to confirm my reservation. Is there a problem? No, no problem - but I have to wait. Meanwhile, the car from scratches and dents are verified,carefully checking them off on a clipboard. Then I made another phone call. I have to wait still. But there was no problem, she assured me.
Finally, the car took center caps and popped the trunk to save - before making another phone call. It was about this time that I realized I had no authority,but his training in Latin America and forced to save face courtesy. Good manners in the face of bureaucratic impotence: a common sight in Latin America.
Merida is a modern university town, with a few colonial buildings and cathedral began in 1800. In the dusty streets,fast food cafes whose struggle with old Gaggia machines dispensed cups of coffee known as high-octane small. -For minibuses beaten Rank pumped out clouds of exhaust gas door thumped music. Elections were banners hanging from the windows, and cars with loudspeakers playing tinny campaign songs.
In the field is another story. My basic set up 15 miles outside of the city of La Mesa de los Indios,an Amerindian village of dusty streets and whitewashed houses in the sun, silent in the afternoon heat, untroubled by banners or campaign rhetoric. In the center is a square with a white sheet painted the church and the inevitable statue of Bolivar, several old American cars were parked in the shade.
Outside the Pope Miguel Posada, an old Indian with a white man squinting expression sat at the door. The inn owner, Arminda,was an Indian woman with dark tight curls, a nice smile and three daughters, Dew, and Rocimar Rocire, which was organized in descending order, as a welcoming committee of angels. They showed me to my room, overlooking a courtyard with hanging flowers.
Arminda cooked food Andean Pisco soup flavored with coriander and anise Mono glasses poured,a drink licorice extending from the stomach in a warm glow. We gossiped about village life and politics.
Arminda will vote in the presidential election, but doubt that many villagers to join her. Only two things matter Andean peasant traditionally Arminda insisted religion and alcohol. Politics, as the capital itself, belonged to another world.
Next morning I went to the National Park of Sierra Nevada,neat little donkeys going with the Indian people in the fields and the tangy smell of woodsmoke acre increase in bursts. Pick-ups rumbled over the men in the back waving lazily as exceeded. At about 8,000 feet the vegetation began to clear and the landscape loses its look,and became increasingly barren time.
This was the p? Branch upland moorland that separates the tropical rainforest of the high Andean peaks. It is an undulating expanse of green and brown hills dotted with wildflowers. Lupines, red chicory and "Spanish flag" that little splash of color to the denuded landscape.
By the time I reached the door of the national park of 11,000 feet,I felt the altitude. The air and the harsh sunlight of the Andes that wear quickly. I set off on the walk to Laguna Negra - The Black Lake - breathing deeply and taking small steps. It took an hour to reach the lake, in Punchbowl against the black hills cloudswept. I looked around in awe.
The Caracas trip took me from the modern city of traditional villageto a place on the roof of the world where the presence of humans is largely irrelevant. Pass the P? Arm, literally "crossing the P? Branch" is also a local expression to die.
Already in Mérida was Friday night, and the city was buzzing. At a local restaurant had chicken with garlicky mashed potatoes, and fell with a group of students who heard me speak English to the owner and invited me over. We set off on a tour of the bars,to finish in the tavern, a place bustling with walls covered in graffiti and three TVs showing three different channels.
Students were drinking beer solar ron hunter, and shouting to be heard. Venezuelans are loud, extravagant talk, given to extravagant gestures. And - another paradox - your national pride is self irony. Stephen, a student of politics in his 20s, said in a typical joke: when God created Venezuela,I blessed with its beautiful mountains, gold and oil. When other country in Latin America opposed these unfair advantages, God objected. "Huh," I said, "You must have seen people there ..."
Stephen, who took me to see along the presidential candidates, the next day. "Irene" as it is known to all, it is not unlikely politician to Venezuela. In a country that sets such store images,Beauty pageants are a legitimate step in the race. Caracas has many beauty academies for aspiring applicants. It is also a cosmetic surgery center - on which Stephen had another joke. When I die beauty queens from Venezuela, he said, to return their bodies to medical science.
Irene herself is at its best. His appeal is to youth and idealism,and noise as his private jet landed was deafening. As the candidate emerged in sunlight several teenagers were close to me in tears of joy. I caught sight of the girl from the car rental officewaving and smiling. There was something very exciting about the passion of Venezuelans bring to public life. Even the superficialities of the policy is based on the real emotion.
This rubs off strangers. As the candidate pressed through the crowd, whipped, and that in this way, but still smiling,suddenly became important part to take instead of just looking. With a jerk I pushed my way past a security guard and leaned forward. Whoever wins the election tomorrow, Irene knows it was in competition with the good wishes of the visitors firmly behind her.