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VENEZUELA | Tuesday, 25 November 2008 | Views [1036]

An eagle near San Cristobal, in the botanic gardens

An eagle near San Cristobal, in the botanic gardens

I arrived in San Cristobal and was picked up by Rodolfo, a young university student. After arriving at his house and meeting his mother, father, sister, and other family members (and given my own room with a private bathroom). Rodolfo showed me around the town for a bit, and I thought one of the most interesting things that I saw, was how people here advertise for a party... they write when and where the fiesta is, with white shoe polish, on their car´s back window. 
Rodolfo later took me to eat a free lunch at his university (Universidad de Tachiera), as it was students day in Venezuela, which is just as important as mothers day here. When I walked into the dining hall there was music pumping, and hundreds of youthful faces. Suddenly many of the boys began whistling very loud, and I was wondering what was going on. Rodolfo explained to me that all of the men were whistling at a girl who was wearing a skirt, and that this is what always what happens when a girl wears a skirt or shorts!   
I was happy to find out that all of the public universities in Venezuela are free for people to attend. Students are also given free food and can even get free housing in many schools! I wish Australia had free universities! 
Over the course of my stay in San Cristobal, I was also taken for trips to other small towns close by. I had met a guy called Samuel, who is a paragliding instructor, and he took me to a place called Perebeca for a free gliding experience, which was fantastic, because I got a great overhead view of the beautiful environment below. I think that paragliding is such a great recreational sport, as you are able to view the world from above, and it doesn´t pollute or damage the environment in any way!
I had also been taken to Perebeca previously by Rodolfo and his sister, and shown around the quaint, multi-coloured, shop filled streets. They also gave me a drink called Calentao to try... which tasted so repulsive, I nearly threw up!! It wasn´t the only thing that nearly made me throw up though... a few days later, Rodolfo and I were driving though the streets and stopped near some garbage, where we saw about fifty vultures picking at a dead dog that had been stuffed into a black garbage bag! But I was shown some live and beautiful animals at the botanic gardens, where Rodolfo also took me during my stay with him and his family. 
As the elections were on in Venezuela, Rodolfo took me to one of the electoral campaigns, where Cesar Perez was running as the oppositional candidate. It was at night, there were flags, boom boxes everywhere, a band, dancing and fireworks!! Not bad for a political party...  more interesting than any other political gathering I´ve seen in my life! But there was one thing that I didn´t quite agree with, as per usual, and that was the sale of animals in the streets during the campaign. I'm sure the kittens and puppies that were on the sides of the streets in cages, were terribly frightened from all of the noise, and probably sick from the pollution! On Sunday, Cesar Perez, ended up winning the election for the Tachira Provence. 

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