I was nervous as I set foot aboard the bus. I had been told not once, but twice, by two different people that it was dangerous to travel in Venezuela. Why was I going clear across the country? And at night? Why didn’t I go somewhere near Valencia?
I offered up a quick prayer and was thankful that I was traveling with someone. I’ve reached a point here in Venezuela where I acknowledge the fact that I’m choosing to live in a country with an astronomically high crime rate. However, I realized when I was feeling particularly isolated that I couldn’t live much longer behind the burglar bars of my apartment, the group-organized trips, and school-sponsored transportation. I needed to go about my day, just like the millions of other people who live here.
I would be dishonest if I said I didn’t have a run-in with violent crime here. What occurred is actually what triggered my culture shock. I choose not to write about it in the blog for the simple fact that I don’t want to participate in the violent developing country vs. safe developed country narrative. As an extranjera, I want to be realistic and honest about my experience, but I also don’t want to fall into the trap of relaying stereotypes as a way to get a “fun, exciting” story.
So, a co-worker and I took a 10+ hour overnight bus across Venezuela to a place called Cumaná. From there, a taxi transported us about twenty minutes to a tiny fishing town called Mochima. Here are a few things that I did:
- practiced my Spanish a lot
- enjoyed delectable seafood dishes whipped up by a little old man who lived above his restaurant
- learned that I get freaked out swimming in the open sea when I attempted to snorkel (I swear Jaws and his cousin were right behind me)
- drove/piloted/whatever you call it a motorboat for the first time
- was grossed out watching three people handle the same piece of raw chicken barehanded before plunking it down on a filthy counter; I had to laugh inwardly when the customer then said he didn’t want the chicken. So it got passed back to the dirty cooler the same way it got to the counter…via three pairs of hands
- saw two pods of dolphins (note my Academy Award worthy directorial skills)
- Finally, I took some photos of the awe-inspiring beauty that is Venezuela. Here’s just one of the few that will be posted shortly:
Needless to say, I will continue to travel. I will be safe, but I will travel, and live, and love my time here in Venny.