Friday, April 27, 2007

More on Tile

We selected our tile. Bought a box last night, took it to the condo and spread it out. It looks great! Now I need 42 more boxes.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Apartment Planning

Tania and I bought a condo. It is a nice little place one block off the Caribbean. Now we have to finish it!
Its been sitting idle for nearly a year, the time since we finalized the paperwork because neither of us wants to deal with this. Our current living situation is provided for by my work, so no worries there, we have a roof over our heads.
We finally bought an air conditioning system which will hopefully be installed next week. Next phase is flooring. Too many choices.
We've decided on a ceramic tile, but now what color and pattern? Again, too many choices!
The project after flooring and a/c is the kitchen. We talked to a design company the other day and hopefully they'll have something for us to look at.
The closets will be the final project.

Insect Noises

Yesterday I did a "group" ride though I didn't really talk to anyone. Most people drove to the rendevous place then started riding from there. Some hardcore riders rode from town.

In my haste, I forgot my money in my car, so that meant no pitstops.

The ride was a ride I've done in the past, from the alacabala (police check-point) at Pertigilete (east of PLC) to Playa Santa Fe, then up the San Pedro river valley, eventually climbing to Los Altos via the back road. The whole route is about 65 km (40 miles) and has a total elevation gain/loss of over 2000 meters (6,000+ ft). Add the heat, it makes it a challenging ride.

Yesterday's ride was no exception except the unusual noises from the birds and insects. Even in the parking lot, there were some wild natural noises, mainly parrots squawking.

I finally pulled out my camera when climbing the San Pedro river valley. I was alone, ahead of the pack (since I had no money for a break at Playa Santa Fe) and climbing up the steady grade. I was enjoying the solitude of the moment; no cars, no other cyclists, no loud salsa music...just me and my bike.

I finished the ride ahead of the pack with only two other riders ahead of me (these guys were hard chargers...incredibly fast climbers). It was a very enjoyable moment overall.

Monday, April 16, 2007

What Can You Buy for $25.00?

Yesterday morning I bought 2 fresh chickens (killed on the spot), a kilo of onions, a handful of sweet peppers, 2 quarts of milk (2%), 2 quarts of orange juice (100%), a large box of Fruit Loops, 2 kilos of salt, a 500 ml bottle of Tropical Fruit Gatoraide, a package of construction paper, a booklet of drawing paper, a toothbrush refill for my electric toothbrush, and a Sunday edition of the local newspaper.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Venezuelan Cocoa (chocolate)

Forget everything you know about cocoa; Herseys, Nestles, etc. Most people don't realize that some of the world's best chocolate (Belgian especially) is made with Venezuelan cocoa.

A real treat is to find raw cocoa from a grower. They'll sell it to you in lumps. During Semana Santa we were travelling through the Barlovento region, known for its cocoa production, when we stopped at a roadside stand to buy some plantains and casava. I saw the little lumps of cocoa dangling there in a cheap plastic bag. I told my wife I wanted some. She said no at first because I'll forget I got it and it'll go bad. I insisted, especially when I heard the price...Bs. 3000 for 3 lumps. That's only $0.75. "Dame dos bolsas." (Give me two bags.) I said. My wife just rolled her eyes when the man handed her the bags of cocoa.

I need to post some pics on how to make the cocoa into hot chocolate. Its very simple...and very tasty!
1. Milk...2 cups in a pan at low heat.
2. Cocoa...1 lump crumbled fine into the milk.
3. Sugar...add about 3 tablespoons to the milk (more if you want it sweeter)
4. Salt...just a pinch added to the milk.
5. Mixer...get out the electric mixer and stir in the cocoa, sugar, and salt into the milk. Try to get the milk frothy. Sometimes I'll pour the milk mixture into the blender to get it real frothy.
6. Taste...add more sugar if needed.
7. Enjoy! Nothing like it!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter in Venezuela

Easter in Venezuela is a week long event called Semana Santa (Holy Week). People flock to the beaches all week, but the real deal starts on the Thursday before Good Friday when the official holiday begins.

Normally the beaches fill up with large crowds with people drinking beer and scotch whisky openly. Venezuelans love their booze and partying on the playa and this week is a great boon to local economies; both formal and informal.

This year, a day before the beginning of Semana Santa, President Hugo Chavez decreed (he has free rein for 18 months in ruling totally by decree) that there would be a "Ley Seca" (Dry Law). This meant no liquor or alcohol sales from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM anywhere, including bars and restaurants in effect till April 9. The Chavismo spin is blaming the evils of capitalism are taking priority over social responsibility.

This decree has taken the wind out of the sails for the holiday. Local businesses estimate they lost the equivalent of about $3,000,000 in the first 3 days of the week. There doesn’t seem to be the rowdiness of years past, and there is certainly less traffic. Some people expressed their opinions by writing on what they think on car windows with white shoe polish, but ultimately prohibition doesn't work, and in an informal observation (riding my bike through the crowds along the local beaches) there still seemed to be plenty of alcohol being consumed, and I'm sure it could be purchased from some entrepreneur with his cooler on the beach.