In this series I’ll highlight some places little G and I adventured to last week.
La Estancia is perhaps the most beautiful and well-maintained park in Caracas. Before 2003 it was Hacienda La Floresta, a three-acre, walled compound reserved for the social elite. Now it is the centerpiece of the social and cultural arm of Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), the state-run oil company. In a wonderful show of democracy, the Venezuelan constitution requires the PDVSA to finance and implement projects related to health, education, sports and community networks. In the middle of the park sits an old mission style house, which is now home to five exhibition halls. An added bonus is that military guards are posted at both entrances to the park and a few wander through it, so it’s not only beautiful, it also feels really safe. Two other major cities have similar locations as part of the program and over a million people participate each year.
The Caracas location is only a couple Metro stops east of us, so with the walk to the station we’re talking about 30 minutes to get there, which makes it easy enough to do on a regular basis. We went the first time as a whole family to see what people were talking about. This time though, Graham and I went to check out something that might become a regular event for me: capoeira. Every Tuesday and Thursday night from 6-8 and Saturday mornings, a capoeria group plays. I was having a difficult time locating a capoeria group in Caracas but here it is, and what is more, as with all workshops and events at La Estancia, everyone is welcome and everything is free.
When Graham and I arrived we saw about 30 people doing yoga in the shade while around the corner in a plaza-like area was a slightly smaller group of people sitting in a circle enjoying an open mic poetry night. At the other end of the plaza was the capoeria group. We sat and watched them for about five minutes with Graham insisting all the while that we go see the DJ. Yes, on the big grass lawn on the other side of the exhibition hall was a hip-hop concert in full swing. So we followed our ears to the music and Graham ran towards the stage, freezing every few steps to pose and scratch records on his air turn tables. We arrived in time to see a local break dance troupe and several Venezuelan rappers. After he got over the noise Graham wanted to get right up in front of the stage so he could see the turn-tables. The majority of the rest of the evening was spent dancing in the back of the concert. Thankfully the concert ended before the capoeria and we had a chance to see the group wrap up their session.
This isn’t necessarily an unusual night at La Estancia. August hosted a salsa music festival with concerts every day. Now September is in the middle of an urban/reggae/ska festival, in addition to a national circus festival. And of course, the regular events/classes such as chess, language classes, opera, cuarto guitar, and the others I’ve already mentioned continue unfazed by the louder concerts.
Needless to say, Graham didn’t want to leave and is excited to go back. Who knows? next time I might even get to focus on capoeria.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera for the trip with G-bo, but we did snap a few on the previous family trip of the playground and a neat kid’s size bathroom. You’ll at least get an idea of what the place looks like.