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VENEZUELA | Wednesday, 10 December 2008 | Views [1127]

Chavez speaks in Cumana

Chavez speaks in Cumana

Cumana was a great place to visit, as it was full of life and had some pretty nice beaches. I spent 60 Bolivares and about 8 hours getting there. I was very surprised… happy, when the taxi driver stopped on the way to my friend Milagros` (her name means miracle) house to buy me breakfast!

I had no idea until Milagros (an English teacher) told me, that President Chavez was there to give a speech that day. He was there to congratulate the new man in charge of the Sucre province, Enrique Maestre, who is on the same side as Chavez. Milagros told me that there was a campaign about a month previously from this government, which was supposedly created to help clean the city. 400,000 Bolivares was given to each person that helped clean the city for a day (keep in mind that this campaign only ever runs around election times). I thought that this was a great idea, until I went and saw Chavez give his speech, and realised, when I saw all of the rubbish littered throughout the streets everywhere, that the environment is not a major priority of this government (especially considering that it costs only $2 US for about 40 litres of petrol… not kidding).

There were hundreds and hundreds of people crowding in the streets wearing red clothing and hats, and waving flags and chanting like the president was some sort of super-star. Chavez sure keeps himself in the public eye… he's everywhere!! On a wide variety of television channels talking for hours, on the screen in bus terminal waiting rooms, and in posters on just about every street corner here. When does he find the time to work?? Perhaps he should find some time to help delinquents here… according to the news here, homicides have risen, and there have been more than 14,000 in the last ten years.  

Just before I had gone to Chavez`s speech, when walking back from a lovely beach close by, a taxi pulled up next to me on the main road, even though I didn't signal for one. It can get somewhat annoying when taxis constantly stop to try to get business when you are obviously not interested in catching the cab. So the taxi had pulled up a little ahead and then began reversing towards me. Suddenly, another car screeched on the breaks, did a 180 degree turn and slid into the taxi, smashing out a few windows and putting huge dents in both cars. I could see no one was hurt, (as I had the best view on the entire main road), so I continued walking… feeling awkward about the whole situation, as the driver had obviously stopped for me.

Many of my days in and around Cumana were interesting and relaxing though, apart from listening to the evangelists, who would chant and sing for hours every night about god, right out the front of Milagros´house! I love how people in Venezuela just chill out in the streets with their friends, and dance to music that was blasting out from their car stereos. Milagros and another couple who were staying in her house (Elena and John), went for a trip to Mochima, a white sand beach with clear, blue water. I also had many laughs with Milagros, now a good friend, who I hope to meet again one day in the future.    

On my last day in Cumana, I went to see Milagros` sister (Milanjel) who was volunteering at a fun day for children with cancer. She was dressed as a clown, and was ready to perform (with many others who were dressed up in costumes) in a play to help bring smiles to the children's faces. She told me that she and others do this every year, in any place they can such as McDonalds or a church with the help of Fundacion Niños con Cancer (Foundation Kids with Cancer). Milanjel also said that there needs to be a hospital specifically for these children, as there is only one floor for them in one hospital in Cumana, and there is not enough space for all of the kids. I watched as Santa also came into the church and gave all of the sick children presents. This is such a wonderful idea, as sometimes the children aren't able to get given presents from their parents, as their parents are poor, and sadly, sometimes can't even afford medicines for their dying child.



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