This past weekend I ventured with a group of teachers and their families to the Leavenworth of Caracas. It’s a cute, albeit insanely touristy, Bavarian town tucked up the mountains surrounding Caracas.
Graham fell ill the night before we were all supposed to leave, but we had pre-paid for the transportation and the room, so Kat insisted that I go and enjoy it enough for the three of us. So I did my best.
I find overly touristy places a bit depressing. So I took a long walk Saturday afternoon with a friend, down into the valley, which couldn’t have been a better decision. At other times, we lingered at our tables to extend the meals and Sunday morning I sought out a quite place to read under some pine trees at a hotel down past the church. It’s necessary, and not difficult, to find places where most people don’t go.
The cemetery in the middle of town is one example. It’s a nice place to escape the noise and exhaust fumes of the streets crowded with people, cars and hundreds of produce stands selling the same sauces and produce and jams and cookies, all at the same prices. Many of the graves there are raised planter beds — it’s almost like a community garden; each soul with its own plot. Things grow out of most of them, some on purpose, some left to the weeds. Nothing much edible, save nasturtium in one. Lots of succulents though, and fern, most notably deer fern, whose familiarity was as refreshing as the mountain climate. It was 60 degrees at night and that’s certainly the coolest I’ve been since our arrival. I wore a hoodie. It was amazing.
There is also a checkered pattern on a lot of the graves — blue and white, black and white, green and white, turquoise and white, brown and white. It must have some sort of cultural significance. Anybody know? Your standard crosses adorned the graves, some made of stone, some of iron, some of wood. The wooden ones with lots of lichen, slowly decomposing.
The church, St. Martin de Tours, is another peaceful place to go if seeking quite from the cars and motorcycles. It has that comforting familiar old Catholic church smell: candles, wood, polish. I attended Mass on Sunday morning and it happened to be First Communion. Lots of little girls dressed in white with flowers braided into their hair and some wearing white wings. The boys wore white shirts and dark ties. The gospel was about loving your neighbor as yourself. It was a welcome message.
Colonia Tovar is famous for their jams and peaches and produce. According to one of the vendors, the town averages 7,000 visitors every weekend. The weekend before was Oktoberfest, so we enjoyed a lighter than normal crowd. As we boarded the bus for the ride home, one of my friend’s sons hit it on the head: “Dad, do we have to go back to Venezuela?” It serves as a nice weekend getaway where you can forget for a while that you live in Caracas, and even Venezuela.
But we were quickly reminded that we were indeed still in Venezuela as our bus driver missed a turn thereby extending our journey home by two and a half hours. Please, note the map below. We had a nice straightforward trip to Tovar, A to D direct. Then our excursions and diversions home took us from D to B on a route not available on Google Maps, then on down to C, and back to A. At least we got to see some nice views of a low sun over the Caribbean.