Another Merida

Trip Start Oct 23, 2006
Trip End Apr 15, 2009

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Flag of Venezuela  , Andes,
Sunday, July 20, 2008

Venezuela has big cities where most of the population lives while the mostly wild countryside evidences a spattering of people, but where people leave off nature takes over. We managed to avoid most big cities but had to endure the trek through a few. We maintain that cities are attractive only from a distance. Looking down upon their creative sprawl from some winding road is by far our favorite way to enjoy a city. Even then, it is not so much the city that is pretty as much as it is the inteaction of scenery and architecture, or lack of, in come cases. Then, occasionally along comes a city worth exploring.
From the crossing of the Rio Orinoco we meandered through lush valleys, rustic villages like Magdellena and Guigui, busy cities like San Diego and Valencia, all with something to boast about. We can tell when we have stumbled onto the tourist trail because cute artesan towns abound with stalls stuffed with their special crafts; pottery, leather, copper, wood, textiles, hammocks, oils, vinegars, preserves, honey, you name it and it will be in some hard working talented persons meagre display. A nice diversion from the road and the ever so enveloping jungle.
Merida is one of the few cities that are worth the effort but on the decent and ascent one feasts on the real beauty. The city is nestled in the valley with a natural landscape writhing with dense vegetation of greens and splashes of color dangling from trees in the form of flowers, seed pods and fruit, and throw in a bird or two. Farms and villages give a grounding to the otherwise extraordinary paradise.
We thought to stay awhile and celebrate one of our birthdays here, but admiring from atop was enough and so onward we press to a posada at the top where we spent the night. Before leaving in the morning we drove back a short distance to glimpse Merida once more.
People are friendly and helpful and want to talk with us. Traffic lights are a perfect place for a little chat. In one case a man on Dom's side called across and spoke his best english with us and the next minute he was on my side chatting with me. How he made that maneuver in a traffic jam is only privy to a Venezuelan. Moments later he was in front of us honking his way through the jam. Hey, we can do that, so off we go poking Eve through while I wave my arms around politely bullying drivers to give us an inch. Dom alone is an Evel Kenevel in traffic but when both of us are driving we fit right in.
Merida brings to a close our breathless trip through Venezuela. No other country has awed us in such contrasting ways, wanting more and wanting to escape.
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