Nonphenomenal Lineage

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Remembering Venezuela

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losnevados
Los Nevados, Venezuela. Early morning in October, 1999.

There are few things in my life that I think about on an almost-daily basis. My trip to Venezuela is one of them. What a wonderful time! It was fall 1999, which is coming up on 7 years ago, I can’t believe how much time has passed, yet how vivid my memories are from those two months. I was 19 when we left, and 20 when returned to the US, and what happened to me while I was in that country is something I’ll cherish forever–nothing sudden or sweeping or big, but rather a series of small, delicate changes that have altered the way I think about everything.

How I would love to return to Venezuela, or South America. I think my next trip should be to Peru. I desperately want to see Machu Piccu.

I’ve always loved the idea of traveling…leaving something you know for something unknown…it’s exciting and addictive. Although I haven’t had a chance to venture outside of the US since 1999, I still have big plans to travel (once the government stops taxing the hell out of me and I can gain some ground.)

Anyway, that trip to Venezuela is treasured and adored. I’m glad we were required to keep journals on our adventures…

Principia still has up the site dedicated to our abroad containing a few of our journal entries…I was reading through them today and I found one that I always think of when I remember writing about Venezuela:

By Sarah Nichols

5:45 a.m. the roosters wake me up. But I’m not angry. They are the perfect alarm clock. I slowly and leisurely get out of bed and get dressed. I take my camera and head out to explore Los Nevados, a small pueblo in the Andes accessible only by mule or four-wheel drive jeep.

I go straight up because our inn is located at the bottom of a steep slope. The town is quiet. It is a very basic town with ancient buildings — only electric lights signal modernity. Rock roads and stucco buildings line the street. Everything is quiet except for the birds and the water rushing somewhere off in the distance. It is still completely dark.

I observe a farmer who has come out of his house to feed his mules. I climb to the road that hangs above the city. I watch the sunrise and the tiny town wake up as women begin to take clothes off the line. Children feed chickens and dogs are roaming. It is 6:45 now and I wander around to take some pictures. I walk back and encounter some Europeans in the Bolivar square. They think we are from Scandinavia. I talk to our guide back at the inn. He says I look like a friend from Australia.

We’re served an excellent hot bread of wheat, called an arepa, with blackberry jam, eggs and sugarcane juice, topped off with café con leche. I eat as much as I can; I know it’s going to be a long day.

We all mount our respective mules, donkeys or horses. I laugh at Gretchen, knowing she is hating this moment. Carly rides a donkey literally one foot off the ground. She reminds me of Sancho Panza. Michelle is scared of her horse, which realizes this and takes over. We travel in groups of four: me, Jace, Marnie and Bekah (plus our mule man, who hisses and haws at our beasts of burden to keep them going). The mules are incredibly strong and we make great time in the early sunny morning. We pass a flock of green and black parrots. I had forgotten that three-quarters of the way back is straight up. Although we give our mules occasional breaks, they lug us pretty much the whole way. Our group meets about 50 others at a bridge for a rest. We continue, now in overcast weather. Instead of taking seven hours, like our hike the day before, we reach the high point of the mountains in about 4-1/2 hours. I get off my mule and can barely walk. But our group begins walking the rest of the way, about an hour journey back to the cable cars, which take us back down to Merida. Half of our group goes to a hot springs but I am exhausted. I stick with the group going back home in the back of a big jeep. I sleep from 4:30 p.m. to 7 a.m. the following day. Although this trip was treacherous, I feel great! When can we do it again?

—–

Currently listening to…nothing, but instead remembering the lazy, relaxed way the locals said “Buenos” to us as we entered the village, as if life were something simple and undemanding.

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Written by pocheco

July 25, 2006 at 6:41 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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