Posted on July 15, 2013
Before traveling to a new country, I always do some kind of research. I ask friends, friends of friends or couchsurfers. The topics that interest me the most, are the main city attractions, natural sights, typical food, security issues and the national psyche. A month ago, I had the pleasure to visit beautiful Venezuela.
There are lot of rumors about Venezuela, the political regime has been out of “normal” for the past 14 years and yes, they have bigger problems with security issues than a standard country. It didn’t turn me off and as I mentioned in my previous blog posts, I met lot of nice Venezuelans before, so I was super curious about this Caribbean country. Through my friend and a passionate traveller Michal Knitl, I met online one Slovak girl – Dáša – who has been living in Venezuela for some years now. I interviewed her before traveling there, to make sure that I was ready for the unexpected. Dáša was a great travel advisor and she made my stay in Venezuela easier. I knew that I didn’t have to import tons of toilet paper from Colombia 🙂
Enjoy the interview:
• Hi Dáša, how did it happen that a girl from Slovakia has been living now 3 years in Venezuela? What brought you there?
It was an AIESEC internship what brought me here – teaching English little kids. I came here 3 years ago for ONE year internship but as you can see, I stayed „a little“ more 🙂 Now I am a venezuelan resident, but I am not working for AIESEC anymore. I stayed working for the same academy on my own.
• What made you stay in Venezuela (besides your work…)
People 🙂 and my relationship 😛
• How does your daily life look like?
Usually, I work in the morning and in the afternoon and after leaving work I sometimes give private English clases. It doesn’t sound fun at all, but if you imagine venezuelan craziness around, hot summer weather at all times and a lot of parties, it is not so boring 🙂
• What are your favorite places that you already visited in this country?
A loooot of beautiful beaches in Parque Nacional Morrocoy, also Henri Pittier – Chuao and Choroní. Then it is La Gran Sabana, huge piece of land, it is a national park with hundreds of flat mountains, little hills, waterfalls and a long road through the wild… Finally, the king of all waterfalls – El Salto Angel and Parque Nacional Canaima.
• What other places would you recommend to see?
I still haven’t gone to Coro, where the sand dunes are just next to the beach. I also miss Los Roques, which are the most expensive but the must beautiful islands and beaches around. I am a little more ocean lover, but there is a lot of amazing places inside of Venezuela, like Las Amazonas and Los Llanos.
For hiking lovers, there is Roraima in La Gran Sabana, which is the highest and very BEAUTIFUL flat mountain. It is really famous for it’s endemic flora and fauna. On the way up (it takes 3 days) you can see crystal caves, amazing shapes of rocks and a really spectacular flora. Bathing in the river and lakes makes you feel like part of the nature. I deffinitely want to go there!
• How can you describe people in Venezuela?
Well, there is a lot of variety here. Educated people (let‘s say the middle class), they are quite respectful (I am comparing with my homeland (Slovakia) now hehe). They are well educated regarding to manners and communcation (that’s my impression). The other part of the coin is that they looooooove gossips and that creates some meaningless conflicts, but since they are so educated and respectful, they never confront each other 😀
• What is your favorite meal in Venezuela?
I love PLATANO 🙂 the fried one, they call it tajadas: just slice it, fry it and eat it. It is sweet (platane needs to be matured) and Venezuelans eat it with really SALTY cheese which I don‘t really like. Actually, it is not a real meal, it’s just a side dish. There are also lot of cream soups, made from pumpkin or zucchini.
The typical meal that is served everyday as a bread for breakfast, lunch and dinner is called AREPA. It is a round dumpling (shaped as a hockey puck), made of corn flour and water and it is dry-toasted on a cooking-range or pan. It can be filled (for breakfast or dinner, for lunch it’s eaten alone as a side dish) with whatever – chopped meat, scrambled eggs, ham and cheese, tuna, cream cheese, chopped chicken with vegetables, avocado, etc.
Another national dish is PABELLON (black beans, arepa, tajadas, fried egg, salty cheese on top) and it is a really nourishing meal. Also, there is a kiosk on every corner selling EMPANADAS, which is a half-moon shaped, corn flour made, filled and deep fried pastry (not really healthy breakfast). It is filled with cheese, chicken, meat, beans, etc. (… something like Slovak pirohy.)
There is a lot of variety of food in Venezuela. People live here to eat! 🙂 I was used to eat to live hehe.
• Media informs us a lot about security issues and political instability these days. Did you have some personal experience?
Yes, they robbed me once. I was sitting in a friends car (in the SAFE part of the city), and two guys approached us while pointing guns on us, opened the door and took our cellphones. Then they told us to get off the car, they stole it as well and we stayed with nothing on the street! I’m sure though that it was a result of the „law of attraction“ principal. The girl I was with, is a REALLY paranoid person! I can say that I have always been walking around „dangerous“ places, being obvious and shiny foreigner in the mass of Venezuelans, but nothing else has ever happened to me.
• This might be a funny question at the end, but not if it happens for real… Few weeks ago, there were news in Slovakia that Venezuela is running out of toilet paper, because they face production and delivery problems. Did you experience it?
Sure 😀 you want to buy basic stuff like toilet paper, butter, milk, oil or flour and you just can’t find it in any store! And imagine the queue – you can wake up at 4am and there will already be a queue of many people. If you really want those goods, you are forced to wait for your turn for a few hours, and it can happen that there won’t be any more goods left even though, the amount of goods is limited per person. You can only buy 2 – 4 packages of flour, 2 oils, 2 butters, 1 package of toilet paper (4 rolls), etc. It‘s a sad reality. Europeans can‘t imagine this situation, they just go to any supermarket and find excess of goods everywhere.
Thank you very much for your answers and your time. I wish you all the best in Venezuela or anywhere else in this world ☺