As a born and raised Venezuelan, I was always surrounded by natural beauty, color, mesmerizing views. However, as a little kid I did not appreciate the breath taking quality of the landscapes I would run into, at least not enough. I felt, somehow, apathetic and unaffected, to the point where I even considered moving to a different continent.
When I grew older, I had the opportunity to travel my country from north to south, east to west, an eye opening experience that would change the way I saw Venezuela forever. I swam in the crystalline waters of Los Roques, I played with the snow at the top of the Pico Bolívar, I contemplated the majestic beauty of Canaima. All these places had a profound impact on my life, inflicting a desire to speak up for my nation, to build a stronger pride for my home.
I used to think that flying around the world would allow me to show some gratitude for the people I got to know and the lands I explored during my childhood. To my surprise, I didn’t have to leave to find my voice; I didn’t need to spend months away from our national treasures or to miss my loved ones to regain inspiration. This book is an open invitation you won’t be able to refuse, 50 reasons to meet my biggest muse to date: Venezuela.
Let me guide you through paradise in these pages.
Let’s start with the basics: We are the South American, Spanish speaking country who puts the “L” in “Loud” and “Latinos”. Accents may vary in different regions of Venezuela, but for the most part we just talk really fast, passionately. There are slangs in our vocabulary that you probably would want to get familiar with, here’s some examples:
– Chamo/Chama: Used to address boys (chamo) and girls (chama). In our language, this is the equivalent to “dude”, “mate”, etc. If someone refers to you using these words, there’s a strong chance they are being friendly.
– Pana: This term could mean you’re likeable or we consider you a friend, in a higher sense than just calling you a chamo/chama. We also use this one in plural to talk about and describe our group of friends.
– Vaina: The word with a million meanings! Everything is a vaina for us, so to make it short; you could compare this expression to “thing” or “stuff” in conversations. Brought up with both positive and negative connotations, this is a very popular term for Venezuelans everywhere.
– Epa: A short way to greet people, or to emphasize in discussions. When someone comes to you and say this, you may liken it to a simple “hey” in your head. On the other hand, if you hear it in a middle of a dialogue, view it as a method to highlight what’s being said. Focus on the context.
Other common words are “chévere” (similar to “cool”), “arrecho” or “arrecha” (used to talk about being incredibly mad or to refer to something impressing). We are a social, welcoming, warm nation, so don’t be afraid to ask questions!
As mentioned before, Venezuela is a South American country, specifically located at the northern extreme of South America. We share borders with Guyana to the east, Colombia to the west, Brazil to the south, and the Caribbean Sea to the North.
Meantime, our shoreline got some tropical neighbors to the north: Grenada, Barbados, Curaçao, Bonaire, Aruba, Saint Vincent, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Grenadines and the Leeward Antilles.
Venezuela’s capital is Caracas, a fast paced cosmopolitan city filled with music, colors and life.
There’s always something to do in Caracas: You can party until the sun comes up in its night clubs, taste high quality gastronomy from all over the world, explore the Ávila (more on that later), and so much more!
You can move through the city using taxis, buses and the famous subway. However, with a population of around 4 million, I can assure you it’s going to be crowded everywhere you go.
The Salto Ángel (or Angel Falls), one of our most popular touristic attractions, it’s a part of Canaima National Park, located in the Gran Sabana of Bolivar state.
This breathtaking waterfall has a height of 3,212 feet (979 meters). To give you an idea of how tall it is, let’s say at least 15 times bigger than the Niagara Falls and, by the time the water gets to the ground, it turns into fog.
Fun fact: Disney’s movie “Up” was largely inspired by The Gran Sabana and its tepuis (tabletop mountains like the Auyantepui, home to Angel Falls).
Another Venezuelan national park is Los Roques, an archipielago formed by 50 islands with crystalline waters and white sand.
To get to Los Roques, you need to take a flight from Caracas, Porlamar and Maracaibo, or you can find someone with a yacht. However, I would recommend you to buy planes ticket, so you can witness all the beautiful shades of blue from the air.
Once you’re there, there’s a great variety of things to do: From snorkeling, windsurfing and kite surfing, to exploring the keys and enjoying delicious sea food.
Even though we’re a Caribbean country, you can also witness chilly landscapes and lower temperatures in Venezuela.
Los Andes are made of valleys, lagoons, mountains (some of them snowy) and small towns full of history. If relaxation is what you are looking for, this is the spot to visit.
On the other hand, Mérida City in Los Andes hosts one of the most important universities in Venezuela. Therefore, you can find a youthful spirit throughout the entire town which includes an active night life.