Years ago when I was a young boy my parents took in an exchange student from Venezuela. His name was Alfredo Silva Armas. He spoke little English when he arrived, and looking back on it now, he was quite young. He was supposed to stay with us for a few weeks before going on to college in the Boston area. It ended up being a lifelong relationship that has continued to extend far beyond his immediate family. I have been to Venezuela five times since my first trip in high school (my first plane ride). It now extends to the grandchildren of the Silva family, and beyond.
My first trip to Venezuela was for Christmas, when I was a senior in high school. Alfredo bought tickets for my Mother, Sister and I to all celebrate with him and his family. It was such an explosion of senses, from the moment we stepped off the plain and into the tropically humid night where no one spoke English. The scents and the sounds were all so very foreign.
We spent Christmas and New Years with Alfredo. So many new experiences. So many confusing images. Brilliantly colored stucco houses. Music that was electric, in the air, in the streets, everywhere. Tanks in the University, with men packing machine guns on the street corners. Exotic flowers, and delicious new foods.
Since that first time I have returned to delight in all the joys of an extended family.
I have visited Caracas, Ciudad Bolivar, and Merida.
I've seen small towns and big cities, the arrid plains and the heights of the Andes, where a simple movement such as standing up leaves you short of oxygen, and ready to black out.
Beach near Caracas
The people and their culture are what I think of the most. It is such a beautiful country, with such proud and beautiful people. Today there are so many people that I care so much for. A beautiful culture, a beautiful people.
Photos of my Venezuelan Family El Universal