Venezuelan coffee is one of the best coffees in the world. Many coffee specialists from other countries have said and written this. Is true. Or coffee is great. The local brand I buy is called "San Antonio"... but all of the other brands are great too.
We have a coffee-drinking tradition. In every block you can find a place to drink a coffee. In a bakery, in a tiny restaurant, in an "arepera" (check my "arepas" restaurant tip), in an icecream place and, of course, in very large or very small coffee shops.
The best thing is than even in really tiny and crappy places, they have this big italian coffee making machine. Wow. And it is very cheap. One big cup of coffee with milk is 600 or 700 bolívares... less than o.50 U.S.cents.
But there is another great thing: a whole variety of coffee drinking.
negrito = black in a small cup. In french: un express...
con lechito = (with little milk) actually it hasnt "little milk" is, more or less 50% coffee, 50% milk in a smal cup.
marroncito = (brownie) 75% coffee, 25% milk, in a small cup.
guayoyo or aguarapao = clear coffee, very waterish, with no milk at all. It looks like regular USA coffee, but it tastes great.
negro = black in a large cup.
con leche = with milk in a large cup.
marron=brown in a large cup
But you can also ask for a dark con leche, which is not the same thing as a light marron... No. There is a difference. Oh yes...
There is the "tetero" (baby bottle) which is 90 or 95% milk with very little coffee. And "teterito" (a little tetero).
You can also ask for the precise temperature you want.
A con leche CALIENTE (hot) or a con leche TIBIO (tepid).
We dont drink cold coffees.
But the very best thing is that you can ask for your coffee exactly the way you want. Just ask -por favor, please- for it and enjoy.
Oh yes we are. We are experts in EVERYTHING. We might have no clue of what we are talking about, we might have no idea about the issue that is under discussion, but, oh boy!!!, are we willing to give an opinion!!!
I´m one of the very few venezuelans that will say: "I dont know"... but I´m an exception. Here EVERYBODY knows.
This is from an article I wrote for the paper; I will translate it -terribly, sorry- further down:
"¿Alguien aquí sabe poner una inyección?"
Y ahí mismo brincamos diez: uno sabe cómo en teoría, pero nunca ha puesto una en la práctica; otro inyectó a su abuelita agonizante, pero como la señora se murió justo en el pinchazo, pues ésa no cuenta; un tercero confiesa que él no sabe, pero que por él no va a quedar; hay uno que sabía, pero como que se le olvidó; el quinto comenta que eso tan difícil no debe ser: "pela esa nalga pa´ puyate"... y así todos los demás.
"Does anyone here knows how to apply a shot?"
Inmediately ten of us (VENEZUELANS) jump up: one knows how to do it in theory, but has never practiced it; other gave a shot to his gramma in agony, but since she died right in the moment that the needle hitted her, this injection doesnt counts; a third one confesses that he doesnt know, but that he is more than ready to apply one; there is one that says he knew, but he thinks he forgot; the fifth coments that that cant be so dificult: "come show me your rear end and I will apply it"... and like that all of the others (VENEZUELANS).
But we are good people. We are not making fun of anybody. Its in our genes: we are supposed to know everything; have an opinion, a theory and a suggestion all the time.
If you?ve got a regular flu, this is what I take:
1. Dequadin (regular, mint, lemon, orange flavor...). That is for your sore throat. Put a pill on you mouth, dont chew it, dont eat it.
Let it disolve. This is not a caramel. This is medicine. Have one every 6 hours.
2. Chewable and delish vitamin C. Chew one every 6 hours but not for a longer period than 3 days.
3. Take a Teragrip pill -a DIA (day) one- if you just feel awfull all over and you dont know what to do with yourself. Watch out, if you buy Teragrip NOCHE (night) that will make you sleep right away.
4. If you have a horrible cough, the thing to drink is one table spoon of LOVISCOL every six hours.
5. Drink all the water and natural wondefull tropical juices you find everywhere: Pineapple, Banana, Watermelon, Papaya, Melon, Passion Fruit, etc...
Do not take too much medicines. This is for the first couple of days... You`ll be alright. You dont need a doctors prescription for any of these. But remember, try not to take too much medicines. Is better to lay down, spleep and drink lots of juices.
LADIES: If you are walking alone or with a girl friend, be prepared for men´s compliments, flatteries and even some vulgar propositions . If your are acompanied by a man, no other man will dare to say something to you.
Flatteries and gallanteries are called PIROPOS, and even humorless feminists appreciate them. Do not get mad. We venezuelan women are used to this, like it and even expect it!
Once, a gentleman aproached, he stood in front of me (not to close) and made up a poem talking about the colors of my dress, the way I walked, etc. Very elegant, very loud. I was very happy.
Once, walking with my mom, a guy who passed by in a car shouted to my mom (and with a big smile): "Hey, madam, can we make an exchage? You give me your daughter! I´ll give you my dad!"
We all laughed. And that was it.
Less creative men will wisper with sexual desire (as you pass by) "Usssu mamiiiita". Translation: "Mmmm mommy". That is ok. It sounds very funny, but is ok.
A more heavy version, which I dislike, is: "Usssu mamacita", pronounced: mamassssssitah. That is too sexual.
You can also be called: Mi Reina (my queen) and Mi Reina Bella. (My beautiful queen). That is great.
You might hear something like usutjshmsjmsahñamsjah. And I dont know what it is and I dont want to find out.
Now. What to do. You just keep walking. Not faster, not slower. You dont turn around and smile. You dont say "oh
thank you". No.You, like a queen, what ever you hear, you just keep walking and feel very proud of your feminity.
Suggested activity: Sit down in a place were you can see venezuelan men talking. Every time a woman passes by they will automatically turn around to see her rear end. They will continue talking with out interrupting their conversation. What is so funny is that the expresion of their faces doesnt change. You dont see "a rear end appreaciation and approval". No. Is something mechanical, automatical.
Now, women do not say PIROPOS to men as they go by. But I´m about to start this tradition. I swear.
Forget Hot Pants!!!
My newest VT-friend, Selene, just wrote this to me: "Hi Carola,I was just reading your Caracas pages and laughing... very nice, thanks for the tips. BTW I have one question for you: my guide says that shorts are still not considered very acceptable in Venezuela. Is that true? In case, you might want to add it to your local customs pages as well".
Well... this is kind of true. They are more acceptable now than what they used to be. I´m talking about women using shorts and bermudas. It is very rare to see a venezuelan, in Caracas, wearing them, on week days, on the streets.
If you see a lady with shorts she might probably be an athelete who was running in Parque del Este (our local, tropical, Central Park); or someone who just came down from hiking to El Avila mountain, or a foreiner, or a lost tourist.
I think I have never used shorts in Caracas. I wear them at the beach. I cant picture my she-friends wearing shorts in the city. I dont remember anyone of them. Only inside your house, when you wash your car in the garage or try to give a bath to a crazy doberman full of teeth.
But now, on the weekends, you can find men buying the newspaper, or at the bakery, or in the market, etc. using bermudas. I think they all look "beachy & sealess", dressed down and awfull. But they seem happy and confotable, so goodby glamour. Welcome hairy legs.
What is very shocking is to have a rather new Bike-Police. The bikers are all men. They dont wear shorts. Neither bermudas. They wear tiny and tight dark blue hot pants!!! (Ouch!)
Hahaha!!! They look so... so naked and silly!!! When they ride in front of me I have to restrain, contain myself, because I always feel the urge to shout to them (with gallant sexual harrasement): "Usssssu... papitoooo!!!" Translation: "Mmmmmmm daddyyyyy!!!"... Hahahaha.
But a lady will never do that. Or... who knows... maybe I´ll do it some day. I will tell you all about it. Promise.
That is something very private for a venezuelan, who will never talk about how much she/he makes a year, or a month, or a day or per hour. Or in a free-lance job.
Venezuelans are shocked by the way people from United States discuss -openly and sincerely- how much they make a year:
-I make about 30,000.oo...
-Oh, no, I make more than that... I make around 50,000.oo
We, venezuelans, do not reveal how much we earn. But, if we are payed very little we will be more than happy to complain and to tell everyone, but never, NEVER, reveal the amount of that little-money we are beeing paid.
Money earning and money saving and money investing is something very private that a venezuelan would not like to discuss.
Caracas in "the city of the eternal spring". Our temperature all year long is around 75-80 degrees farenheit. We have two seasons in Venezuela: dry season and rainy season. The rainy one usually starts in May and ends in October. But there is no big diference. The temperature always remains pretty much the same.
During rainy season we have HUGE showers. Half and hour of it. And then, the sun shines again. Thats it. Period.
Thats about it. Just wait five minutes...
People from 4-seasons countries are always discussing the weather conditions, they check the weather channel, the radio, the newspapers. We dont. We dont have weather forecast dayly in tv. We couldent care less about weather, because there in nothing much to say.
So, if you talk to a venezuelan, never bring up the weather issue in Venezuela. That is a very boring thing to talk about. Who wants to have a conversation about something that is sooo predictable?
Venezuelan are highly talkative people, so be prepared. If you are on a bus, in a line, on an elevator, at the bank, in a park, at a coffee shop, at a dentist, ANYWHERE, venezuelans will be ready and more than happy to talk to you. Dont be confused, this doesnt means that everybody wants to become your very best friend for ever and ever over the rainbow... No, venezuelans just love to talk. When we open our mouths, a waterfall of words pours out inmediatly. That is the way we are... (and I love it!) So, if you meet a venezuelan, be prepared for a conversation. And dont be shy to talk back even if you know little Spanish. We are friendly people and, in order to comunicate with foreiners we will speak some english, some french, some italian, some german, some whatever and we will also do mimics, gestures, some acting, etc. We just want to comunicate with you!
Once, working a t.v. show as a writter, I asked my boss Peter Norman (an australian adorable guy who has lived all over the world) what did he find most peculiar about us, venezuelans.
- You brush your teeth after each meal.
- Of couse we do! What is so peculiar about that?
- No, no, I mean, you carry allong your toothbrush and your paste and your dental floss, and no matter if your are at the office or in a restaurant, after you finish eating, you go and brush your teeth. And there is this shower thing...
- Which shower thing?
- That you rather not eat, not spleep, but you MUST take a shower a day no matter what!
- Oh yes we do!
Before Hugo Chavez (our "President", or should I say dictator?) the Venezuelan flag wasn't very popular. There was a lot of people who didn't even have one (including us).
Now, ever since the opposition took the streets to protest against the government of Chávez, Venezuelan flags have become very popular.
Now we own them, wear them and carry them with pride.
1. People don't split the bill when at a restaurant. The people you are dining with will always try to pay the bill. The best idea is to take turns paying the bill. In order to do this, you have to be very fast to put your money or credit card down.
2. For women, never put your purse on the floor. It is a superstition (symbolizing that you will lose money) and I don't think any Venezuelan women put their purse on the floor.
Caracas is a city with high income gaps between the lowest and the highest.
be sensitive to the people with whom you are engaging in either business or pleasure.
Try to learn some of the language before you arrive, it is just polite to be able to greet people correctly.