Thursday, August 30, 2007

Day 1 in Venezuela

I) Executive Summary

1) Women: initiated contact with three

* one was married
* second was 5 years old.

(Actually, she initiated and was very persistent. Eventually, I had to say: "Look, um, you seem really nice, and one day you´ll probably be very attractive. But I really don´t think this is the right long-term situation for me.")
* third woman was with her boyfriend (both from U.K). Spoke to them at a local bar.

2) Hazards Encountered: 9

* one bat the size of a golden retriever

* two loose dogs (probably rabid. I followed advice of Centers for Disease Control: I didn´t let them lick me and I didn´t try to lick them)

* one very large snail with shell who made a mean face at me.

* questionable water

* weird smells

* money changing scams

* two mosquitos

* linguini dish with suspicious looking seafood

* lost keys in swimming pool

3) Hazards avoided: 6

4) Hotel Room: Decent

5) Meals: Dominos Pizza, pear juice, two local beers, seafood linguini dish

6) Sports:

*pushups and pullups in local park at 9:00 pm
*swimming in pool
*walking around with 35-pound back pack

- Finances: still holding up

II) Full text
a) Women

* Married woman was attractive, blond, and lots of good advice about how to get best rates when changing money. Official exchange rate is 2150 bolivars per dollar. Black market rate can be almost twice that. Best advice: don´t do it under the nose of a policeman unless you plan on giving him a cut. She gave me her phone number in case I got into any trouble.

* Five year old was playing on jungle gymn. I wanted to use it to do pullups. (Wednesday is the day I work upper body.) Then she wanted to do pull ups but was too short to reach the bar. So lifted her up. She did pull ups. Then I did pull ups. Then she wanted to do pullups. And so on. The she wanted me to spin her on the merry go round. Then she wanted to swing her on the swing. Then she wanted me to help her on the slide. Then she was back to pull ups. I´ve been down this road before with narcissic women and I always end up in trouble. So, I tried to explain that this wasn´t the right relationship for me. She spoke only Spanish and quickly moved on to a bunch of kids who were playing soccer. I think Lucy and Gerry would approve of how I handled this.

* British couple was at local bar near the beach. I heard them speaking English and was so happy to hear it, that we started talking.

b) Hazards

* Bat: I went swimming in the hotel pool at 10:00 at night. Huge bat kept swooping down to pool level then took off. He did this dive bombing routine numerous times. No doubt bat was rabid. I didn´t try to pet him.

* Lost key: Put my keys and copy of my passport into a waterproof bag and put the bag into my pocket before I went swimming in the hotel pool. After about 30 minutes of messing around in the water, I wanted to check to see if waterproof bag was watertight. No bag and no keys. I had forgotten to zip up my pockets. (My bathing suit has zip-up security pockets to foil pick pockets. Doesn´t work if pockets aren´t zipped) I found the bag floating in other end of pool. Contents was dry.

* Hotel room has a mosquito net. I asked hotel owner if I needed to use it. He said there were no mosquitos this time of year. I went out out for a walk and got bitten by two mosquitos. Awaiting onset of dengue fever.

* In Caracas airport, I didn´t want to spend the $1.50 for a bottle of water, so I drank from the water fountain. Awaiting onset of dysentary.

* Later in Caracas airport, around 4:00 p.m., I was getting hungry. (cheap bastards at American Airlines didn´t offer a meal, only beverages and, for a fee, crappy looking sandwiches.) I went to the food court in the airport. Fast food Chinese place looked suspicious. Then I heard the cook sneeze. Then I looked at the price: $10 for good case of campylobacter. I decided to pass. Another place offered some kind of local food, but it looked like it had been sitting out and I couldn´t figure out the menu. That narrowed it down to joint offering hotdogs on a stick and Dominos. I passed on hotdogs and ordered small vegetarian pizza for $10.

c) Finances

- Made my first black market money exchange with a cab driver. Still alive to talk about it.
- Instead of washing clothes from trip, I jumped in the pool and then rinsed in the shower. Savings: unclear

d) Interesting facts

* Margarita Island is like Martha´s Vineyard for Venezuelans. Many took vacation this week so island is full of Venezuelans and few Europeans or Americans. (haven´t seen an American yet.)

* Have not seen or heard about any bedbugs. But being that pirhanas are also from South America, a full on bedbug attack would probably leave only a bleached pile of bones. My brother David has my will.

* Local wild life: land snails with shells (like the ones in Alice of Wonderland), variety of small lizards that are not shy, pelicans, bats, loose dogs roaming the streets.

Temperature Tuesday night at 10:15: 85 degrees and windy.