Latest posts by Gisela González (see all)
- Ensalada de Gallina (Chicken Salad) – Venezuelan Christmas Specialty - December 17, 2017
- 10 Things That You Should Know About Venezuela - November 23, 2017
Venezuela is a wonderful, though sadly one of the least visited countries, known for its political turmoil of the last decade. Because of its somber reputation and the all-around negative press, little has been said about the true beauty of this amazing country in the past years.
While it is true that it is not the safest country to visit in 2017, there’s so much more to Venezuela that unfortunately many people never even have a chance to learn. So let’s review the 10 cool things that you probably didn’t know about my beloved country – which will hopefully help you to see it in a somewhat different light!
1. Venezuela’s natural scenery is one of the oldest in the World
Venezuelan “tepuyes” are the rock formations that have existed on this planet for billions of years, with one distinct “tepuy”, known as “Roraima” being the highest. Due to our particular climate, a different type of vegetation was able to develop and survive on our soil, including some carnivorous plants. For that reason, numerous species of flora and fauna which thrive in Venezuela, cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
If you’d like to experience this beauty closer – some guided tours can be arranged, as long as you go with an expert. The natives are very protective of these lands and do not allow anyone to venture on their own. Be warned that the route to the top can take a few days.
One of the most famous sights in Venezuela is the “Llovizna” National Park in “Ciudad Guayana”, as well as the Angel Falls, a natural cascade which is more than 970 meters in height. It also ranks as the highest uninterrupted waterfall in the world.
2. Venezuela has the World’s largest oil reserves
One of the advantages of this oil country is the fact that gasoline is very affordable compared to most other parts of the world. For this reason, many believe that having large quantities of crude oil will surely make that country a privileged place. Unfortunately, this belief is entirely isolated from… reality, when it comes to Venezuela. Although it has many vital resources, Venezuelan society has sadly not been able to take full advantage of its country’s rich benefits lately.
3. Some indigenous civilizations have limited contact with the cities
Hundreds of years have passed since the time of the Spanish conquest, yet there are still some indigenous groups which retained most of their ancient traditions and customs. Some of them have contact with the big cities, accept help from organizations, participate in politics and even receive tourists who are curious to know more about their lifestyles. Others have set limitations and prefer to remain closed off, living within their own communities, being ruled by their own laws.
4. Most Venezuelans are tolerant to LGBT rights
In this world there is a constant struggle for those who dare to assert their rights and to show themselves as being different from others. Although same-sex marriages have not been legalized in Venezuela yet, they are not expressly prohibited.
In all the major cities it is very common to have a friend who belongs to an LGBT community. Gay people can meet freely and be their authentic selves, which definitely makes their life easier and much happier, compared to some other countries. It seems that homophobia has ceased to be a “hot topic” in our country nowadays, since its taboo has lost its strength in the eyes of the modern society.
5. There’s a common consensus among Venezuelans for… disrespecting some rules
Although we know that for a community to work in peace and harmony it is essential to follow the established rules, Venezuelans have a kind of collective agreement to… ignore some specific laws. For example, if you live far away from the main bus station, the bus drivers might drop you off at another location, depending on the circumstances. In other cases, some officers may overlook the official restrictions, depending on your urgencies and needs.
There’s also now a popular mode of transportation called “Moto-taxi” – which involves motorcycles instead of cars. It is particularly useful when you need to get somewhere fast, or when there is too much traffic. It also helps some people to make a living this way. However, it can be dangerous since some drivers tend to go extremely fast.
6. Humor is a golden rule
Facing difficult situations with humor and stamina is usually one of our strongest assets. No matter the issue, a Venezuelan will always find a way to give it a humorous spin in order to make it more bearable. It may even involve what one might consider a somewhat disrespectful or inappropriate behavior. For instance, one might see a positive attitude, or even a few jokes at a… funeral, appeasing the feeling of defeat that normally involves the loss of a loved one. You’d be surprised at our ability to make memes of even the worst situations.
7. Venezuelans love to celebrate Christmas
The month of December is usually a very significant time for Venezuelans, which is especially evident in the energy that radiates from us. You can feel a festive spirit on almost every corner, mainly around 24th, 25th, 31st of December and on January 1st. On these particular days, it seems that all the problems in the World lose their collective strength.
8. The climate in Venezuela is quite diverse: it has 8 different zones
In this country, you can choose a different climate for various types of holidays needs, without ever leaving the borders. Maybe you’d like to go skiing around the snowy peaks in Mérida, or maybe you’d like to show off your best swimwear around the hot and spectacular beaches of Margarita, Aragua or Falcón. Perhaps you prefer to visit the thermal waters or the vast plains of Apure, or maybe venture out into one of our natural deserts.
We also have a very unique place with the largest concentration of lightning in the world, which has even been added to the Guinness Book of world records. This incredible phenomenon is known as “El Relámpago del Catatumbo”, and it takes place in the lake basin of Maracaibo, one of the largest lakes in Latin America.
9. Traditional Venezuelan food has a great variety
One of our most famous traditional dishes is the “Pabellón Criollo”, which consists of rice, beans, sliced and shredded meat (although each version also depends on the region). For breakfast, the queens are the “arepas” and “empanadas”, made with corn flour and seasoned with various fillings. As to the drinks – “Malta”, a kind of black barley beer, with no alcohol in it, is one of the most traditional ones, as well as a thick drink prepared with rice, called “chicha”.
As to the street food, Venezuelans are worshiping hamburgers, hot dogs, and meat sandwiches called “pepitos”. It is also common to add as many ingredients as possible, including: sauces, mojitos, spices and cheeses, which can be easily found around the stalls arranged at the side of the streets, or concentrated in areas known as “Calle El Hambre”.
10. Venezuelans had to resort back to… barter
Venezuelans had to resort to this ancient practice whenever someone needs a product which isn’t otherwise available. If another person has that particular product, they’d make an exchange that benefits them both.
Regrettably, in the past years, the country has gone through a number of situations, that have affected the quality of life of its inhabitants. It is not a secret, for example, that there’s a huge scarcity of essential products, including the cornflour with which the famous “arepas” are prepared with.
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One cannot ignore the fact that numerous things are not right here, however it has nothing to do with the sheer hospitality and the genuine warmth of our beautiful country and its people. Our collective mood continues to fight against the stress and hardships of everyday life, while thinking about the general direction that our society should go in, as well as a better future that must be build.