Venezuela is one of the most beautiful countries I have ever had the pleasure of visiting. I studied abroad in Mérida, Venezuela for Spring semester of 2012, this is a beautiful city that sits on a plateau about 5,000 ft above sea level. One of the first weekends we arrived in Mérida we took a bus with about 20 students up into El Páramo, an area in the mountains with small villages and tons of exploring space. We stopped along the way to get ice cream and take pictures of the beauty that surrounded us. I pretty much looked out the back window of the bus and took over 100 pictures as we drove along the windy roads higher and higher into the Andes. The sun grew warmer and the air grew cooler as we tried to hold back our motion sickness from the crazy drive.
As we made our way up to where we would start our hike, we saw the villages alive with buses, people walking about, and even a procession for a popular Catholic saint. One thing I loved most about the small villages was all the color everywhere; here in the United States I feel like we shy away from anything colorful and see it as ‘trashy’. For me, I embraced the color and thought it was a great way to bring life somewhere.
After parking the bus we all got out to quickly take pictures and enjoy our surroundings. I love this picture particularly because it really captures the happiness that we were all feeling on this day. We were free from everything, simply enjoying the discovery of new places and the smell of the mountains. The day started out pretty warm, but turned cool in the afternoon making it difficult to dress appropriately. Either way, we had a lot of fun this day.
There are many days where I wish I could go back to this particular day and moment. Everyone hanging out, laughing, and wandering through a land so different from what I have always known. Some people even drank directly from this stream thinking it was fresh mountain water, even though we had been side stepping cow patties for the past two hours. After our long walk through El Páramo, we stopped at a local restaurant and ordered hot soup and drank Ron (rum) to warm our bellies.