Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Orinonco Delta

Was realllly hoping to load pics today, but it's not going to happen... due to the card reader. Bumma.
The Delta was spectacular! Who'd a thought I could Kayak 8 days. However, we all did it! I'm excited now to attempt the Kayak on some of the rivers back home.  The only downside is that here you don't have to worrry if it rain, cause it's warm! and you can pack so much less, cause it's warm! Loving the ease in the opportunities that the weather is giving us.
Although I shouldn't say it was all ease, cause it's one thing to Kayak in the rain, it's another one when your hammock gets wait and you are also soaked! That was one night last week when our attempted original campsite was flooded out, so we stayed in a rickety old steel shelter that, yes, was not actually a shelter. Of course that was one of the nights it rained.
The Worao people make amazing Moriche tree leaf roofs, so we mostly stayed underneath one of those with places to tie our hammocks. Honestly, this is an amazing way to experience a country.  We actually stayed in people's homes about 3 or 4 of the 7 nights; which consists of a roof and a place to tie your hammock. This trip definitely needs pics.  The scenes on the river were from a magazine.  We mostly Kayaked through narrow slow moving rivers. Sooo relaxing. Sooo beautiful. So amazing. I can say tho that I definitely love river Kayaking over sea Kayaking anyday, now that I've done both.  Sea Kayaking is extremely hard work, with the main reward being your destination.  River Kayaking however is the reward, as it's such a pleasure to pass by all the stuff along the way. You feel the distance you're making. We had a Worao man named Pina along the whole time as a guide, wrestling snakes from trees!.. finding 24hr spiders under brush... ripping the tail off scorpions... playing with tarantulas.... etc etc etc.. more than I could have expected on the trip!
I paddled with Laura again for the whole trip and enjoyed that and her imensely.  We were the only chica boat, as in the only all girl boat.  We kept up pretty good considering.  Would have loved to bring home a handmade hammock that the Worao people make by hand, but it's a bit bulky to carry home.  Takes them a month to make and they charge about $60.
Sleeping in hammocks on the trips is becoming more of a pleasure.  It's all about getting the angle of the hammock right.  Can string a hammock in like 5 min and pretty much get the mosquito net up in that time too. Would love to show you my hammock at sunrise pic, however,.. next time.
We did everything thing from sleeping with pigs, chickens, and dogs running around underneath of us.. to sleeping at a fancy screened in Lodge for Christmas eve/day.  It was a nice treat after we'd been attacked/eaten alive by the mosquitos.  We were fairly warned, however still were not mentally prepared.  The first camp was almost mosquito unbearable, but pretty well everyday got better.  Howling monkey, twocan *sp parrots, an aligator hunt/catch/hold, fishing pyranas, swinging rope, breakfast served from the boat followed by doing dishes with the infamous environmentally friendly blue soap off the side of our kayaks.    Lots of first that happened on this trip.. ie. never been pulled behind a boat in a string of Kayaks before! Like 8 kayaks strung out. What a relief that was though, cause we'd already paddled at least 7 or so hours that day, and would have been like 4 more... it turned into 1.
I cannot summarize adequately the ups and downs of the trip, but our groups seems completely different now having experienced all that together.  We've only known each other for like 3 weeks, but we feel as close as a family.  It's a pretty weird phenomenon.
Thanks for reading! Thanks to those who sent Christmas updates!
A few days back at camp now before heading off to Caripe, where we'll hike and camp for 7 days.  Spanish, I suppose is progressing but not muy rapido.  Slowly but surely...
Love from Am :)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Feliz Navidad!

It's funny how certain things trigger certain memories, aloe vera will always remind me of Grandma Haite at Attons Lake.  Here in Venezuela we are showered with fresh aloe vera plants, so we've been cutting and using it in abundance! It's making me look younger :) .. oh and healing small cuts, and soothing mosquito bites.  It's amazing how far one small piece will go.

Oh, I got my acceptance letter from Mercy Ships for those of you interested.  Feb 27 - June 11 is what they currently have me scheduled for. Yay!

I was mosquito bite free for one week, but I'm starting to get covered like the rest.  The theory back home is mosquitos like people who eat bananas, so I've cut them out of my diet the last few days to see if it makes a difference (despite the bananas being delicious and available...)

Craving ice cream today...
Still enjoying my collection of books.
My journal is much more intersting than this letter... :)
BBQ on the beach yesterday afternoon was a highlight so far. Guitars, and quatros. A few people from our group are quite musical. In fact we had our own band going by about 9:30 that night. Cups, cans, whatever was in our way became our music! Did you know books can be drums? :)

Today will be a soccer (football) match between a bunch from here in Playa Colorada, including us, and the next town over.

Although I'm certainly missing the Christmas hubub... after 6 days of Kayaking we will reach some fancy lodge in the Orononco Delta where we will spent a night and have a Christmas dinner, away from the mosquitos.  We're all looking forward to that Kayak trip that we leave for tomorrow!

Our group is still meshing well.  Thankful for that!
I'm learning very well now how to relax. You'd be proud Jenn ;) I got up yesterday morning and spent 4 hrs reading in a hammock while we waited for our Spanish teacher to arrive.
I'm just remembering that every moment is part of the dream :)

Must go.
Love Am :)

Friday, December 16, 2011

How about some pics!!!! Yay!

Kayaked, hiked, and attempting to hablar Espanol (Speak Spanish)

Hello my friends.
Ear plugs. Are one of my good friends. The mornings begin around 4'30 with roosters and traffic. And they never really end until.. who knows when seeing as there is no noise regulations at all here in Venezuela.
We were in our Kayaks around 7'30 Sunday morning and there was music blaring from a little fishing village of about 10 houses, that is only accessible by boat. Every shop down the street to get here today has their own music playing too. I'm not sure how they can tell which is theirs cause it all kinda blends together to one big loud sound.  The standing room only bus, which takes about 45 min to get here to Puerto La Cruz also has it's own loud music, no matter what time of day. That's just one difference we've all noticed, but are for the most part enjoying.
Spanish is improving. As in, the classes. Our original teacher is gone for some reason, so a guy named Isaias has stepped in. His philosophy of teaching is WAY better, so I feel like I can actually say something now after only 2 days with him.  Looks like he'll be sticking around so I'm very happy about that.

Thanks for all the updates from home, for those of you who have written! Muchly appreciated to hear about the weather, happenings, etc.

So yes, Kayaks. We spent 3 days for our first warm up Kayak trip, and are now in town getting ready for the next one.   We paddled around 3 islands here in the Mochima National Park.  Our beach where our 'camp' is, is called Playa Colorada. (Sorry I can't seem to post any pics yet) But people from around Venezuela come here to enjoy the beach. So it's definitely a perk.

Other unique things...
No laws against drinking and driving... imagine.
No noise laws, as I mentioned.
Of course no laws about litter. So beaches, tho beatiful are quite full of pop (soda) bottles and broken flip flops. Those are the things that seem to make it to the shore!

We jumped out of our Kayaks about 10 times over the weekend to visit hidden beaches and take in a bunch of snorkelling. We could see a ton with the snorkels. Mostly corrals and some medium fish. But still likely some of the best I've done.   Felt like I was exploring the Titanic at one point, because they took us to a sunken ship. That was pretty special.

Well, always hard to know exactly what to tell.... They are keeping our schedule pretty packed. We did 'Abseil' or Repelling training a couple days ago, hoping to repel down a waterfall yesterday, however apparently they had had too much rain up river, so we'll try again another time. Looks like it's on the schedule for New Years Eve now.

Christmas will be spent in the Oronco Delta, where we will Kayak for 8 days (and apparently get eaten alive by mosquitos). Apparently they're pretty brutal once you get off the river. Which means quickly set up camp, eat, and jump into hammocks and mosuite nets. My Watkins deet loaded repellant should come in handy.

Well, I think that's all for today.
If any of you need to get a hold of me, you can always call the 'Brendan' phone number I gave you, and he can get me a message to call you, as there's a phone shop just down our street which is fairly reasonable.

I suppose this is my Merry Christmas letter too! Seeing as we will be leaving on Tuesday for the Delta, and not likely to get back to email before then.... so ..... awe Christmas.. a bit sad to be missing... I hope it's a grand one for you all with family, food, and friends! Feliz Navidad! Merry Christmas! See you in the New Year!!

Dec 8, 2011 ..... Day 5 in Venezuela

Hello on Thursday!
This has passed extremely fast! in most ways. In some ways I feel like how could I have done so much in only 5 days. They say the weeks just start flying by faster, so I{m just trying to enjoy every minute. I{d say today was the first day I was a little bit homesick. Not really just missing a few people and things back home, but mostly still just enjoying the time and the group.  I mostly hung out with 2 Swedes for the first few days, but seem to be spending more time with the Switzerland and Holland girls lately. All super nice people. I think our trips will be fun. We{re in town getting snacks for our Kayak trip that we leave for on Saturday.  Today is day 3 of Spanish classes! We{re moving along very quickly! into grammar etc already... yikes! All very good tho. Putting quite a bit of time outside of class trying to study it.  Our group studies well together too.  
It{s pretty cozy in my little mosquite netted space. Sorta feels like you have your own room I suppose cause mY net, is mY space. It{s the only my I have, so in the afternoons is a nice place to read. Particularly before supper... because the kitchen is directly open below us and the spices waft up to me..!! glorious I tell you. glorious.  =) Perhaps one of my favorite things so far =) Weird I can almost smell the smells here as I think about it!

We{ve been practicing kayaks, and started out with the climbing wall that is in our yard. We didn{t hike the hill this morning tho, cause they said there was people lingering up there, so just to be safe we stayed home. They always go check out places we{re going before they take us. For one to make sure it{s safe. And for 2 to make sure the roads are clear, things are open etc, as apparently those things can be a problem.  
We will tour our town on friday morning, cause the teachers didn{t show up to work on Wed when we had planned.  
It{s cool, they eat [Casava[ here just like in Zambia. Interesting
The lady who cooks our suppers is a Venzuelan lady from the town, so always local dishes. Lots of pasta and rice, with different spices and meats. 
There{s about 20 or so people kicking around our complex-camp, because some of the last group hasn{t left yet, due to road blocks.
Well, I suppose that{s all for this week. It{s been pretty low key. Nothing terrible to report. Simple pleasure like Spanish class, afternoon naps, and spicy foods are my highlights! =)
As always I enjoy getting your messages so please feel free to write. I won{t be back here until next week sometime. 
I must have some mosquito repellant in my blood. Cause for some reason I don{t have any bites yet, while one girl is like eaten alive, infected reacted bites....  Apparently Malaria is not really around here so that{s good to hear as the information was mixed before we left. 
My group.
33 = Jerome = France
33 =Stephanie = Switzerland
32= Anders = Sweden
30 = Maria = Sweden
26 = Erwin = Austria. 
24 = Laura = Sweden.
22 = Frank = Sweden.
22 = Philip = Sweden.

I wish I could forward some pics of the place but not really sure just how yet, so... hopefully another time. You may have to wait for the digital album when I get home =)
Having fun with my camera tho. Did I say before that 2 of the other guys have DSLRs too.. so I{m super glad I brought mine. They{re teaching me here and there and have lots of time to just play around with it. Plus a locked cupboard to store our valueables. Apparently it{s taking some beautiful shots so I{m quite excited to learn better.  They{re jealous of my 6400 ISO. =) for those of you who care.

Sorry for the punctuation in the letter.. I can{t see the actual marks, probably with time I could, but because that{s limited I thought I{d leave the quirkiness and just write instead!

OK my familia!
I{ll let you know how the Kayak trip goes. All I know is I{m bringing the beach volleyball!
And my Spanish notes of course... =)
Ta for now,
La Amber. 

Monday, 5 December 2011, 12:03

Subject: =) Safe and Happy in Venezuela
{this was originally an email{

Sooo.... The place is legit =) I´m here and they´re taking good care of me mom =) I made it through Caracas without feeling too much at risk. Everything went pretty smoothly, and there were people at the airports to pick me up.  The airport in Barcelona was like the size of Abbottsford and not too many people around. Nobody even cared I was there which was nice.  Biggest thing people approach you for is to exchange your US dollars for Bolivars.  The whole way things are exchanged here is a bit of gong show. You can get anywhere from 1US = 4 Bolivar at the bank, or 1US to 8 Bolivar if you´re willing to do it on the street.  I´ll keep you posted about how that goes ! ) 
Our village is safe. Our complex is secure. I feel I can trust the people running the place. The head guy is Scottish. I think I told some of you that already.
Want to know the coolest things so far. Well mostly, the coolest thing is that the majority of our group of 9 are all around 30! How awesomeness is that.  The last group of 21 was all 19´-22 with one 41 year old. He had a hard time.  So I´m very pleased with our group! =) What a HUGE blessing. So happy so far.  4 Swedes, 1 Netherlands, 1 France, 1 Switzerland, and apparently I´m missing one... But a great little mix of folks.
Definitely no real privacy around here.  Took me the first day to get used to that. Open style dorm rooms. As in an open loft.. open to outside, just a roof. Wooden structured cabin. I now like it. 
Imagine... I think I may have brought too many clothes. 
The beach.. was/is amazing.  Soo warm! I set up my space yesterday when I got here around 2pm and then proceeded to hit the beach. The beach is just outside our door. So I imagine me and ´she shall become good friends =)
First trip is coming up this weekend. Kayaking over to a couple islands for 3 days. Orientation was today so Spanish classes start tomorrow.  Sounds like the Spanish is going to be what you make it. So we´ve decided after tomorrow no one is allowed to speak English anymore ! ) Well, so far only the Swedes are not allowed to speak Swedish cause the last group was so frustrated with over half their group just speaking German the whole time. 
Anyway, I´m sure this is getting long for some of you, and some of you would like to read more.  Not sure the blog is going to happen for this trip. But I will aim to do a weekly email at least, seeing as internet is a 45min bus ride away.  You can always call the Brendan number I gave you if you needed to get a hold of me. He´s here and that is his cell.  Nobody else can get much cell reception here but there is a place not too far if we need to make calls.  
Sounds like our schedule is a little more rigorous than I thought it was going to be. Which I´m actually glad about. Various morning excersizes, evening climbing wall etc stuff, and well Spanish in the mornings.. Not too sure what else. I´m looking forward to the out trips tho. We´ll be spending Christmas in the Delta! Which is again fiiiine with me ! )

Thank you again to everyone who helped me pack up my house this past week and helped me get ready, took me to the airport, gave me last minute books and gifts, etc. You guys made my hectic week before coming actually quite enjoyable.

Please feel free to send me messages, cause I´ll be happy to hear from you!
Again. Know that I´m super happy to be here, and so far feel like it was a great decision. Although we´re likely all in the honeymoon phase of living in tight spaces with people!
Ok y├íll =) Glad I could finally check in with you! I hope to write you again soon! Likely I´ll be back here on Friday before leaving for the weekend.
Love you guys!