What is going on in Puerto la Cruz

It has been two weeks since I arrived in Puerto la Cruz.  Little by little things are happening.  After I had bought a dinghy from Heinz on Wednesday, I heart on the radio that another boat had a dinghy for sale.  I wasn’t going to go after it, but than I ran into the boat here at the dock and thought, well, why not, lets have a look.  And, I liked it a lot, the main advantage is that it has a more solid floor and an inflatable bottom.  Heinz was nice enough to take back the dinghy he had just sold me, and thus I upgraded.  A picture will have to follow.  I have been tinkering with the outboard, but so far it is running well.  Just the combined fuel and choke control, made from flimsy plastic is broken off.  I can work with it, but still looking at a way to really fix it properly.

We had an interesting experience this week with the wonders of Venezuelan fuel prices.  Local diesel and gasoline prices are absurdly cheap since they are subsidized by the government.  But, that is not meant for foreign yachts.  When a Venezuelan friend heart about that he offered us a truck delivery with diesel (unasked I need add).  Well, that was very nice, but unfortunately, it has to come with some additional paperwork, otherwise the marina would not allow the truck on the premises.  Much talking on mobiles and discussions at the gate followed, even an informal offer to grease the system was turned town.  Thus the very friendly offer of our Venezuelan friend ended up in vein.  We all felt very sorry for all the help he gave, but, that is just how it goes sometimes.

I have received an acceptable quote for the canvas work, after some delays (manana is a very common term in those conversations).  And tomorrow (yes!) I should here how quickly that all can be made.  Between the marina where I am docked and the different shops that do boat work there is some lack of cooperation.  I might end up changing marinas just to take delivery of the canvas. It will be interesting to see how that progresses.

Last night we all went out for an Italian meal here across the canal (you can almost see it from the boat but it is a half hour car drive away).  Another Dutch lady was in town from Caracas, where she works as a journalist both for the ANP and Chavez’s news agency.  It was very interesting to meet her, giving us all a little more insight in the political landscape of Venezuela (which is not always easy to understand, neither from the outside nor the inside).  In short I can say this: the country is pretty much divided in two camps: pro- or contra Chavez.  The dividing line could be between the haves (who appear to live a comfortable and wealthy life, judging from the huge boats that come through the canal) and the have nots (which we can see a block away from the marina).  But, it is obviously not that simple.  Chavez indeed is a very good populist, he plays the PR game very well, but on top of that, he does also manage to get things going in a way that seem to be improvements (like infrastructure).  I the exchange rate is any indication, the economy is not that stable (the unofficial exchange rate between Bolivars and US dollars has already changed in the two weeks that I have been here, and we know that is not because of the strength of the US dollar).  Press freedom has been on of the issues that has go quite some attention internationally, though there are still plenty newspapers around critical of Chavez’ policies.  One TV station has been closed over the past few months, but apparently not all stations are run by Chavez (yet)?  Now, mind you, I have not talked to that many Venezuelans to gather this information (not speaking Spanish does not help that issue), but I am always curious to learn more about it.

Last night we went to a local bar with some meringue and salsa music.  But my dancing legs were nowhere to be found, so I just underlined the stereotypical north European lack of swing on the dance floor.  Some Italians that had  been around here for some time obviously had learned a lot more about the local dancing.  Nevertheless I did have a very good time.

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