Saturday, May 10, 2008

Delta Amacuro News and Views (1)

The trip

This picture might represent the best possible condensed form I can come up for the three days sailing through the Orinoco Delta channels.

All the elements of this image speak of the wonders and not such wonders I saw, the oppressive greenery of a water soaked jungle, the tide power deep inland, the open air life of the natives with wall-less shacks on stilts where a hammock and a few plastic drums for water and gasoline are enough, the extraordinary wild life, bold enough to perch next to humans from whom they learned to eat rejects or simply appreciate that they cleared the mud flats of mangrove for easier pickings at low tide, and even the deleterious political manipulation that reaches even such remote areas where roads and sewers will never reach. Too much for a single post of course, and thus you can expect more posts over the next days.

I went there on a sort of short vacation with someone who has been a regular visitor of Venezuela. This person, who travels on business very frequently through Asia commented on the second night of her visit that Venezuela seems to be frozen in time, that nothing has changed in ten years, except for more cars, more garbage and more wear and tear of what existed. She rejoins Miguel in her observation of booming China and the pathetic near-immobility of Venezuela.

One of the few places she had not visited yet was the Orinoco Delta. In May, besides Margarita Island, it is about the only thing you can visit in Venezuela. When all is dry and scorched and hot, the Delta is still about the same, comfortably drier, less prone to hordes of mosquitoes. Off we went for 4 days of camp hoping, covering most of Caño Manamo, the largest branch of the Delta after the main mouth branch at the other side of the triangle. The area we covered, the main channel and side channels and remote little "caños" (creeks) is roughly comprised in the dotted red form of the below picture.

In this view taken from Google Earth you will first notice that the extensive cloud coverage does not allow me to trace the actual channels traveled. Still, the area can be well located if you compare it to the Venezuela map (there is a clickable one on the right column, by the way). More interestingly the yellow roads provided by google earth betray by their near straight lines how flat is the land, way before you arrive to the Delta itself. And even more interesting, you can observe that there is only two roads that actually reach one arm of the Orinoco Delta, one at Tucupita, the only town of the whole area, and the other at the bottom of the red circled area, where we embarked. In other words water rules the Delta in ways that are hard to imagine until you actually reach it, until you see with your own eyes the school bus which is nothing more than a long frail looking "piragua" carrying a dozen school children wearing their white uniforms.

The area I visited might seem small when compared to the rest of the Delta but words fail to describe the immensity of the little bit I saw. Even the smallest creek gave a sense of awe by the sheer size of the vegetation trying to strangle it. No picture could do justice. The only picture I took that conveys a sense of lost horizons was taken at one of the mouths of the Caño Manamo which actually ends in a complex of islands and bays. That sunset view gives you an idea on how far was the other side, when you need clouds to gain perspective.

Thus, as I get my pictures organized I will tell you about what I saw, the good and the bad. But worry not, all pictures will be clickable to avoid troubles for those still not with broadband.

-The end-

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