Saturday, February 14, 2009

Venezuela bound!

Less than 24 hours until I'm on a plane bound for the Murder Capital of the World, more fondly known as Caracas. During my last visit to Venezuela a little over two years ago, President Hugo Chávez was reelected as I was visiting the lush southeasterly section of the country. And in honor of my upcoming visit, there's another big vote scheduled for the day I arrive. (Aw really, you shouldn't have!) But this time around everyone's turning out to decide whether the constitution should abolish term limits so Chávez can continue to run for president after he hits the wall in 2012. Yes, they've already voted on this recently, just in case the scenario sounds a tad familiar.

For the next 7 weeks, I'll be screeching around by freezer-cooled buses through the traveler hotspots of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, updating Lonely Planet's South America guide and smiling sweetly when people tell me what a charmed carefree life I lead. After multiple days/weeks/months of bluffing my way past bored front desk clerks so I can check out rooms, explaining to suspicious shopkeepers why I'm writing down their opening hours and racing across town to get into museums before they close, the charm can feel a little thin.

Here are a few things random items I've squished into my backpack:

  • a SteriPen, which magically kills all water nasties (no more buying overpriced bottled water!)
  • fistfuls of non-recalled granola bars I scavenged after the recent salmonella scare
  • my dive mask, newly tricked out with prescription lenses
  • two pounds of pecans for the friend I'll be visiting in Caracas (supposedly he can't find them there)
  • a groovy-green edition of writings by the 18th century Orinoco River explorer Alexander von Humboldt
This will also be the virgin voyage of my new RFID passport. So if you spy my data while I'm on the road, please give me a friendly shout.

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