From Manaus to Venezuela

And so we made it. We are in Venezuela!

First we stopped in Manaus and we visited the botanic gardens. It is amazing. There is a tower with more than 40 meters. From it you can see loads of enormous trees around.

The clouds were there and a storm broke out. I was amazed being reminded that the Yanomami say “how is that the white men do not know that if they cut trees there is no rain left.”

So in the middle of the amazon a storm broke out. We could see so well that places where there was no rain there were no trees, and also how much rain was condensed in places where trees had not been cut. I was moved and amazed to be entirely wet by the storm in the middle of the jungle.

But it was time to bid farewell to the lovely family of Dona Lu. We met them in Manaus and they took care of us. I am always amazed by the goodness and warmth of people.

We then took a 12 hours bus ride through the rain forest of the Amazon in order to reach Boa Vista. There we were met by Janio our host in the state of Roraima. He picked us up in the bus stop and took us home.

Today we woke up early and his lovely family prepared us breakfast. They are exceptional people. They are adventists. Janio’s has done amazing things in his life, one of these things is that he rode from Boa Vista all the way to Chile with 50 reais… Which is about 17 dollars! His trip took 11 months. He told us he stayed mainly with people from his church, though he was also helped by non religious.

His father who is a carpenter is 72 and started to run when he was 70. His mother hosted us so carefully. Showed us pictures from the adventist camp where she and her husband had spent this carnival. But once again it was time to bid farewell.

So we took a cab to the border of Brazil and Venezuela. The landscape changed enormously. It became dried flat and eventually enrolled by hills. Eventually we reached the last town in Brazil which is called Pacaraima. There we exchanged all the money we had with us in the black market since once we would have crossed the border the exchange rate would be much less favourable.

With the collapse of the Venezuelan economy and the devaluation of money we were given begs of money. We were told to bring even toilet paper since the country is said by the mass media to be close to a civil
War. Petrol is worth little, and all is missing.

We spent hours to pass the Brazilian border. There was one person working to check people in and out. People who were crossing by car and walking. As usual in a border you see it all. Maybe the most appalling thing was the young lady who wanted to cut the line because she just had had a surgery. Since all of us had patiently waited for a long time we decided to ask her what she needed and what had had happened to her.

She was Brazilian. She looked at us looking for sympathy and very proudly said she had had a complete plastic surgery in her whole body in Venezuela. No. She did not have an accident. It was simply a cosmetic surgery. She wanted for her and her friend/daughter to have the same treatment as the elderly and pregnant women. Namely they wanted to go first. It was somehow hilarious. Especially because everybody was appalled by it. Maybe the most funny is that while she stood there pretending to need help and then she decided to ask us what we were doing in Venezuela.

“We want to climb Monte Roraima.”

She took some time to process the information and then said.

“Why?”

I wished I had said: “for the same reason that you decided to change your whole body. It is because we think it is beautiful.” But I didn’t say that. It was all so out of place that we all did not say anything.

Passing into Venezuela was very easy. We did not see cabs on the other side. Therefore we decided to ask for a ride. Immediately a truck stopped and gave us a lift. This very friendly man brought us to the main square of Santa Elena. There we talked to students and decided to walk to a hotel we had heard of before. It was so far and we walked a lot to find that hotel. It was ok, thought more expensive than we anticipated.

Later we finally met our Venezuelan friends. We met them in the centre. And we found a hostel for half of the price of what we were paying there. We will move there tomorrow.

We met more people and concluded that most people we saw were very nice. We were never asked money for rides. We saw a couple of tanks in the street but the police also did not approach us.

Now we are planning to see La gran Savanna before we climb monte Roraima. If we do not write often it is simply because there is no wifi everywhere.

With love,

Julieta

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