Arriving in the Caracas airport was frenetic, but as the day waned so did the frenzy. We spent the night in the airport near this huge stained glass window to catch a small plane out to the mountains of Merida in the morning (it appeared the airport door was basically propped with a brick for the cleaning crew).
Venezuela has a diverse interior, with urban and rural areas a Michigander would find familiar, but also with shantytowns stacked upon themselves, dense Amazonian rain forest, and a number of other unique eco-systems found nowhere else on earth (including a cave where live some freaky nocturnal birds--not bats--but that's another story.) References to the traditional inhabitants of the area--like the Yanomami pictured below--appear in contemporary street art.
The stencil shows a young boy with distinctive Yanomami features and piercings.
From the more densely populated north, one can take an extensive bus system to the more densely forested south. You know you're in the hinterland when there are no more bridges and the bus (along with any other traffic) crams onto a barge to be shuttled across the major tributaries feeding the Orinco and other rivers. From here and points south, it is not impossible to find a boat to take you into Colombia. The border is patrolled by Colombian soldiers who mix with local residents and traders along with the occasional traveler or tourist (below). The following picture shows a full view of the common type of log boat you can see in the corner.
These boats are used to house and haul families and all sorts of commerce up and down the eastern Colombian river systems. Once you get a little deeper into the jungle, the generally flat, thick forest is punctuated occasionally by a tepui, a huge rock that looks fairly...anomalous.
Those streaks are the remains of rivulets that appeared suddenly during the usual mid-day rain storm. On some of the tepuis, significant brush survives on the rock thanks to these regular deluges.
Swing north through the Caribbean basin and you're likely to intersect the Lesser Antilles, the small windward isles that include Bequia, a fascinating island with a rich sea-faring, fishing and whaling history. I found this creative pottery at a ceramics studio on the island worth a look; it playfully nods to the persistent themes of the place.
Further northward is the island of Dominica, where Noel and I helped Jerry build this 'petit cool-out' which served as our digs for our extended stay.