Sunday in Caracas
Sunday is the golden clasp that binds together the volume of the week. ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Something strange happens here on Sundays, people slow down. It’s like they take a deep breath before the start of a new week or perhaps they have no energy from the week that has passed and just decide to go with it and relax. This doesn’t mean they stay at home and don’t do anything, on the contrary. It appears that everyone heads outdoors to spend time with family and friends.
Two fantastic places to do this are Parque El Este and the Avila National Park. Both, conveniently enough, are located in the city. Because everyone has the same idea, there are some serious lines to get into and out of Parque El Este. It’s a super crowded place on the weekend. Every group imaginable is there from yoga, tai chi, some sword fighting group, I even saw a wellness group where people were laughing so hard it was contagious. There are, of course, the walkers, the joggers, and basketball, volleyball and baseball players along with kids in strollers. Everyone is trying to get the most of the fresh air and their one truly free day.
There are kiosks of toys for kids, people pressing fresh orange juice, or serving chicha ( a semi-thick rice drink, not to my liking), there are even canteens selling empanadas and taquenos (I’ll write more about those when I have pictures of the good stuff!).
Parque EL Este is not a zoo even though it has some crocs, lots of turtles, a couple of monkeys, a few otters, and the odd large iguana running around. I particularly like watching the monkeys, but I love watching other people react, or not, to animals, especially children. People connect to nature differently than how they connect with people. In some ways it gives me hope.
I’m all about stopping and smelling the roses. Seriously, I think Juan gets tired of me picking up random things like seeds, or fruit from a tree, or feeling the texture of bark on a tree.
Take the Hura Crepitan seed for example. It stopped me in my tracks. It’s a big, hard seed which, when whole, kind of looks like a small brown pumpkin. Juan told me that people here make jewelry, key chains, or even art with them.
The tree is also referred to as the Dolphin tree because when you turn one part of the seed a certain way it looks like a dolphin. I think I’m going to try and make something out of mine. By the way, the trunk has thorns like a rose. Crazy, right?
Anyway, I like details; I like that I can think about shapes, forms, the how and the why of things. It gets my mind working and it calms me down. Nature is awesome!
After visiting Parque El Este we headed over to the Avila National Park for a little hike. The Avila is the mountain range that dominates all of Caracas. It’s a large dark green curtain of a mountain. It’s beautiful.
The beginning of our hike was, you guessed it, crowded. People with dogs, bikes and kids crammed the entrance. A few minutes later we were in our own little world. We went off of the beaten track onto a small trail.
The silence was most welcoming. It was hard to believe that solitude could be had in such a noisy city. I love this mountain for this reason. The air was pure, so clean. Caracas, unfortunately has no real air quality control, so cars, buses, trucks and motorcycles pollute in such a careless way that it breaks my heart. Huge black clouds of exhaust are everywhere.
Whenever we walk around for any length of time my nose and throat burn. It’s that bad. So the Avila really is the lung of the city. All I can say is thank god trees turn carbon dioxide into oxygen! If not, we’d all be dead from poisoning.
Walking through the Avila provided me with a great experience to discover new Nature. I saw trees and leaves that I had never seen before.
It gave me a chance to unwind, be at peace and reconnect with the most basic of things: silence, light, shadows, chirping birds and the sound of water pushing its way through rocks.
All in all, it was a fantastic way to spend a Sunday. So if you ever find yourself in Caracas and need a break, head to the parks!