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Sunday, 15 August 2010

What Really happened in Venezuela - 1 - Lake Maracaibo

So i know i did write a lot of crap about Venezuala in previous posts. And  despite being mildly humourous , im afraid it wasnt true. What did happen was that we cruised around some really amazing part of the world that, (thankyou Mr Chavez), doesnt get visited very often, expecially not by tourists, and (thankyou Mr Chavez, actually sincerely this time) especially not by Americans, who are told not to go, thanks God.

The delights of Caracas


I dont think theres much to tell about  the capital Caracas except for that is a hot and humid and very dangerous place. Well, actually i didnt see any trouble at all and i did stay in some shady areas but i think nightwalking is quite out of the question here, even for idiots like me.  Just think of city of God withouththe police presence. Well i dont think my girlfriend at the time would have stood for me being kidnapped / eaten so i gave that a miss. I did however firstly force her on an adventure of a lifetime. The most surreal and beautiful place i'd say was certainly  Lake Maracaibo on the Northwest End of the country. Its a little bit of a wild west place, as its where the oilfields are, the most patriotic Venezualans, and of course the disputed boundary with Guyana (Esequibo). So again dont be popping out for that midnight drink in the any of the Barrios of the cities there, you just never know what kind of kidney cutting adventure you may end up in. 

The lake itself is amazing and beautiful - i dont think ive ever swam an a more beautiful environment.
 
The middle of Lake Maracaibo


We got a small and fast boat across the lake, and in the middle, jumped in for a swim, and some dolphins joined us. Its quite shallow but i dare you to try to swim to the bottom, i certainly couldnt. At the West side, is a small remote fishing village on stilts, which is one of the strangest places i've ever been.

Church on stilts

Anyway, the population of about 150 seriously inbred looking specimens, survived fishing on the lake, living totally on these houses built on stilts (pardon the bad photos, ive lost that camera so dont have the originals any more). There was even a church built on stilts here. But the even more surreal thing about here is that, (until strangely it seems January this year) there was basically a permanent lightning storm. Every night, without fail, the sky would crackle and shards of light would stab down on some distant (or dangerously close) tree or boat. Catatumbo lightning tells you more about it - its the most prolific lightning storm in history and has gone on for centuries.
Catatumbo Lightning (stolen from the wikipedia website, thanks guys)

To be honest though, im afraid i have to dash the dream of all you budding ethnically aware eco warriors out there - these little buggers who live in these villages couldn't be described in any way as noble savages.  They live like and act like pigs. We stayed on hammocks outside a little hut, and im sure if we hadnt a guard they would be in there stealing our stuff. They also dropped all their crap into the river which they fished, including plastic things and so on. Doh! I mean piling it up somewhere wouldnt have been that hard guys. Talking of pigs....

This photo will be ruin my career one day

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