Without Hesitation – Into Venezuela!

We did not want to miss visiting Venezuela, but due to safety concerns we’ve been debating the decision to go for months. Our biggest problem was getting accurate information on the travel situation there. This is the one country in the Americas that almost all travelers skip, so it was difficult to get information from our usual sources.

We also had to rule out State Department reports and the media. It’s no secret that the US media paints a horrible picture of Venezuela. But honestly we don’t even pay attention to the US media because they are a F’in joke. The only accurate thing the US has reported on Venezuela was when President Chavez called Gorge W Bush the devil. As far as we’re concerned that’s not news, it’s just the truth.

We continued to ask other travelers for info. What we got back varied from mildly negative to horrific. We heard rumors of ‘Chavez loyal’ police who would arrest Americans on sight, of corrupt police who would just rob us, and of bandits who would certainly kidnap us. We heard of bad roads with no signs and long days of driving. We heard of protesters burning tires at the border and of american-hating locals. Joy. That’s my kind of place.

Eventually we received two positive reports from people who had been inside Venezuela. One came from an overlanding couple we tracked down and the other from our new companions, Guillermo and Paola who we met in Cartagena.

We asked if Guillermo and Paola if they would be interested in traveling into Venezuela with us. I knew this would be good for us on three levels. 1) They are from South America and speak fluent Spanish. 2) They are real “street smart” travelers. 3) They traveled in Venezuela last year and have experience.

They said yes! As always, the universe has provided for Sprinter Life and we are thankful. They agreed to cross the border with us and ride as far as Coro, a small town on the coast a couple days in. These two speak NO english, so all of our conversations have to be in spanish. This has been great practice for us. We’re both finally at the point where we can hold a real conversation.

I’ve fallen in love with Guillermo. He is a very wise, calm, peaceful man. When you look into his eyes you see depth and his calm nature rushes over you. Just being around him is soothing. When I told him I was worried about bandits he smiled at me and said,

“Tree, no tengo miedo de la gente, no tengo miedo del mundo”
Translation: Tree, I am not afraid of the people. I am not afraid of the world

So, after months of debate and careful consideration we’ve decided that we will go into Venezuela and discover the truth for ourselves. We plan to spend 1-4 weeks exploring the country, (depending on the conditions). We will then pop back into Colombia at a lower border crossing and continue south towards Ecuador. We are feeling very good about this decision. 

Now, without further hesitation, fear, or negativity, we go into Venezuela!  TREE

Track Sprinter Life’s exact GPS location! 

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Comments

  1. mamatuyas says:

    Your friends' faith in the world and optimistic views are are inspiring Tree, and consistent with your own attitudes towards exploring the world. But of course I'm concerned, because everything I read in the travel advisories about Venezuela describes a huge gap between the rich and the poor, and Chavez's vitriolic hatred towards gringos is embraced by the poor, who are so desperate. Just be careful, and for God's sake stay out of Caracas or barrios. I also read (on the World Nomad's site) that two Colombian guerrilla groups, the FARC and the ELN, have shown an increasing presence in Venezuela’s remote border areas of Zulia, Táchira, Apure and Amazonas states, so please avoid those areas. Kidnappings and violence towards Americans are apparently a risk there. Even though you two don't act like "rich Americans" – would even your van be a target?

    All that said, I am glad for you and that you are living life large, following your dreams with your usual beautiful passion. Love you both.

  2. HI Tree and Stevie,
    Venezuela is AMAZING! I spent about a month there four years ago (Right before a huge election so tensions were super high), on the coast east of Caracas in Higuerote where I was with good friends. I did a solo trip for almost a week to Choroni by bus, and I had no problems. I have a dear friend in Maracay who would be happy to hook you guys up with on-the-ground beta. He does tell me it's a little scary there at times, even for him — he could probably help you with tips on where not to go. I can give you his info if you're interested in chatting with him.
    Honestly, I had more sketchy experiences on the northern Ecuadorian coast than I did in Venezuela–or anywhere else I've ever been for that matter– robbed at knifepoint, overall uneasy gut feelings, etc.
    Arepas, yum! The people are awesome and warm, their Spanish is very fun. Good strong coffee. Those memories stand out. Definitely hit up Choroni. I missed out on a lot of the country on that trip because it just wasn't long enough.
    If I think of anything else, I'll ping you again!
    Love, love, loving your blog! You guys rock.
    Val

  3. Melissa says:

    Please be careful!!!!!! i know you will but i have to say it… <3!!!!

  4. I'd say be careful but I ain't your mama. Have fun. You guys kick ass

  5. 4thijs@gmail.com says:

    Don't forget the Guyana's they are also (very remote) a part of South America.
    Thijs

  6. Heather and Scott says:

    You guys rock. Can't wait for the next report. I read all of your posts religiously. I really hope we get to meet you in person in August. -Heather

  7. I'm really curious about what the Venezuelans themselves think about Chavez. Ask around!! And what's it like? Do you feel an anti-American tension? Or like the country's unstable or dangerous? Happy or unhappy with the socialist changes? I feel so in the dark about the 'real' Venezuela. Super excited to hear about your experiences!

  8. Anonymous says:

    If you hate America and Americans so much why don't you move to Venezuela permanently so you can hang out with that dangerously crazy Chavez???

  9. Whoa there anonymous Cowboy – who said anybody "hates Americans"? Tree and Stevie behave like friendly World Citizens, who happen to have a love of exploring other cultures, so they follow their dream. They spread love and good will wherever they go. They represent the best of what America can be, and are the very best Ambassadors that the U.S. could have out there greeting other peoples. Why are you so filled with anger about that? What is your fear?

    Of course Chavez is crazy. But so are MOST politicians everywhere, so what's your point? The PEOPLE are not the politicians. Tree and Stevie hang with the People. They ARE the People.

  10. Hey Anonymous,

    Just to warn you, don't mess with my Mom (read her comment above). En serio, you want no part of that. She'll kick your ass bro. I think she's a…socialist? I'm just sayin… watch your back. I cannot guarantee your safety at this point 🙂

    Now, in response to your comment, I'm sorry if we misled you, but we don't hate Americans. Well, except for maybe George Bush and OJ. But honestly, who doesn't hate those guys?

    Nor do we hate America. We are Americans. Not that nationality actually matters to us one way or another. Here's the thing, we understand completely how upsetting it can be to hear about the bad things that our country has done and is still doing, but admitting the truth doesn't have to mean harboring hatred. We know that the only way we can change and start to behave better as a nation is to first take responsibility for our actions.

    As for the dangerous Chavez, I don't know about that yet. We just got here.We're just now learning what the people really think and how they really feel. We do know that Chavez gave healthcare to the poor, and that makes us smile deep down on the inside. He has an incredibly high approval rating. The poor people here actually love him. Its only the upper middle class and rich who do not.

    Oh god, am I'm turning into a communist? I don't know. I've just been talking to and getting to know people who don't have basic resources like water and food. People who America has exploited through various means, yet still greet me as brother. People who pick our fruit and send it out of their country for pennies so we can buy it at Wholefoods a week later for the price of their monthly wages. And I FEEL for them. I am finally for the first time in my American life FEELING the cost of my 'freedom.' It turns out that it's not free. We, as Americans, just don't pay the price.

    I better stop here before Stevie gets involved. She'd really let loose. Her and Kiki turned "leftist liberal commie pinko godless whores'' (in their own words) long ago. I hate to out her, but incidentally she has a huge crush on Fidel Castro. That's no joke. It's one of the reasons I won't let her go back to Cuba. Yeah, he's old, but he's still got game 🙂

    Stay up player, and keep readin Sprinter Life!
    TREE

    PS. Below are some more leftist posts that I think you would really enjoy! 🙂

    http://www.nomadlyinlove.com/2011/05/congratulations-to-us-we-killed-osama.html

    http://www.nomadlyinlove.com/2011/02/global-citizenship-is-whole-greater_22.html

    http://www.nomadlyinlove.com/2011/02/aloha-el-salvador.html

    http://www.nomadlyinlove.com/2011/03/tomorrows-ruins.html

  11. Val – thanks for the info. You're the best!

    Heather – lets connect in August. It would be fun to meet you guys

    Thijs – I don't think we're gona make it over to the Guyana's, but they are on our list

    Everyone else, we're doing well, we're safe, and so far Venezuela is a blast. We have a new post going up soon!
    TREE

  12. Anonymous says:

    Chavez is well on his way to establishing a dictatorship and controlling all the media in Venezuela.

    While Castro did some good things for his people the general state of affairs in Cuba right now is truly depressing.

    I think it's hypocritical of you to bad mouth America while your business-that allows you to live the adventure you're enjoying-is based in the USA and run by Americans. You should try moving your business to Venezuela or Iran and see how you fare.

  13. Anonymous says:

    By the way, I do enjoy your blog and your photos, having experienced a similar adventure more than 40 years ago.

    The world has become much more complex since then and there are no easy answers. Just remember, if you value peace more than freedom you will lose both.

  14. Hey Anonymous,

    1) Chavez was voted into office by his people, twice. The elections were certified by the Organization of American States and The Carter Center.

    2) Cuba is truly depressing, but its because of the US embargo, which is frankly just evil.

    3) It would be hypocritical for us not to speak the truth we see in the world, specifically as it relates to our country, the country we LOVE.

    The real question, Anonymous, is what do you think WE could do better as a country to improve the situations in Iran, Venezuela, and the other poor nations?

    and feel free to sign in.

    TREE

  15. Tanya Diaz says:

    rock on

  16. Valerie in Missouri says:

    Anonymous,

    Why are you anonymous? What are you afraid of? Tree is obviously willing to have a cordial and experienced-based conversation with you but you just keep making accusations and angry stabs. Anonymously. Not cool. Hiding.

We want to hear from you! You may comment as 'Anonymous' to hide your identity if you don't want to leave your name. We look forward to hearing from you.

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