Posts Tagged ‘Juan Felix Sanchez’


Ben: Paramo

July 3, 2009

The last week has been tough, although I am not exactly sure why. Perhaps it is that my first class ended, and without classes for a week I feel a little bit of “what am I supposed to do now?” happening. Or maybe it is because many of the friends that I had made just left Venezuela, heading back to their homes in the States. Possibly it is knowing that I am starting a new class, a harder class, in less than a week. Although I got an A in my first class, I still feel like I am not ready to be in Spanish 1003. Or maybe being abroad is starting to catch up with me…I have read that most students who study abroad have an initial high about being someplace new, but then at some point it fades and is replaced by a serious longing for home. Maybe I have just finally hit that point and just need to work through it. Whatever the reason, the important thing to understand is that I have been in a bit of a funk. Is that accepted term? I hadn’t been out of the house for a few days, and was just spending a lot of time lazing around. Studying a little, reading more, sleeping the most. I didn’t feel depressed, just tired. Maybe I really was just recharging, but it was beginning to feel like I really just needed to force myself to get out of the house.

I said that I didn’t have school for almost a week. This is because the new kids arrived on Monday. They will be down here for the last 6 weeks, but nothing really gets started until after a few particulars are taken care of. Tuesday they have an all-day orientation, and then in the afternoon there is a tour of the city. Wednesday is a day trip up into the mountains. Since I came down halfway through the first semester I didn’t get to participate in any of this the first time, and was invited to go now. I really didn’t feel like it, but as I said, I needed to get myself out of the house. Besides, I loved to hike, and the chance to see the Paramo region (which is where the group was headed) was one I knew that I should jump at.

Man-made waterfall at one of our stops.

Man-made waterfall at one of our stops.

So on Wednesday I had an early breakfast, threw a few things into my backpack and headed out the door. I got to VENUSA earlier than I had expected and had about 30 minutes to kill. Well, 30 minutes if we had left on time. Somehow, students from the United States and all of Venezuela have the same understanding of schedules. Although we were supposed to leave at 9, we really didn’t get into the bus until about 9:30, maybe 9:45. I can almost feel several of my friends snickering as I type this, but believe it or not I am aware that my obsessive type-A personality adores sticking to schedules, and that at times like this I need to remind myself that Venezuela (and apparently college students) move at a different pace, but that somehow, it will be alright. So as we finally piled into the bus, I picked out a seat near a window and settled in, quietly chanting to myself “Schedules don’t matter…schedules don’t matter…” Ironically I will probably start to get used to this concept about the time I need to go back to work in the United States were schedules DO matter. Okay, I can hear my friends laughing again. You are all right, I will NEVER get used to that. Schedules are a part of who I am, and so far, this trip was tough for me.

We needed to stop a few times along the way to acclimate to the altitude. Mérida itself is somewhere around 5,500 feet and we would be ascending to over 13,000 in the course of a two hour bus ride. That means that we were gaining altitude to quickly…we needed to take a few 15 minute breaks. So, at each stop, we clambered out and I would scamper off by myself to take pictures. As the 15 minutes was up I would rejoin the group and climb back onto the bus. Read the rest of this entry ?

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