DISTANZ OHNE GUAYABO
‘A tradition circulates among the Guahiboes, that the warlike Atures, pursued by the Caribbees, escaped to the rocks that rise in the middle of the Great Cataracts; and there that nation, heartofore so numerous, became gradually extinct, as well as it's language. The last families of the Atures still existed in 1767, in the time of the missionary Gili. At the period of our voyage an old parrot was shown at Maypures, of which the inhabitants related, and the fact is worthy of observation, that ‘they did not understand what it said, because it spoke the language of the Atures’. [sic]
-excerpt from Personal Narrative of Travels to the Equinoctial Regions of the New Continent During the Years 1799-1804 by Prussian geographer and naturalist Alexander von Humboldt [Volume 5, p. 620]
Empty Planes & Cadivismo
Though the official Venezuelan government controlled rate of exchange for one US dollar is 6.30 Bolívares, due to strict limits on access to foreign currency, dollars can sell on the black market for upwards of 45 Bolívares (real-time “parallel” market rates viewable at www.dolartoday.com). One popular loophole is that when residents travel abroad they are allowed to exchange up to $3000 worth of Bolívares at the CADIVI (Commission for the Administration of Currency Exchange) rate, which they then resell on the black market at a 600% markup. Roughly 30% of flight ticket holders never even board the airplane but instead use their ticket as proof of impending travel, taking advantage of “el raspao” (the scrape), the swiping of Venezuelan credit cards for cash advance at the government exchange rate, often from within Venezuela itself through machines falsely set to make transactions in Aruba, Panama, the United States, or Europe. Flights to and from Venezuela are now booked solid months in advance, making international travel more difficult and expensive. Meanwhile the limits on foreign currency exchange have also left importers handcuffed, the Central Bank of Venezuela's own Scarcity Index reporting food shortage levels at 20%, and rioting has become commonplace in supermarkets over basic items like toilet paper, chicken, and milk.
"Estas viendo que el chango esta chiflado, y todavia le das maracas."
(You see that the monkey is crazy, yet still you give him the maracas.)
Some of the visitors to El Castillete came for the comic spectacle, tourists would be directed there; and a sad routine developed that eventually led, at worst, to children throwing stones at the crazy artist (as also had happened to the aged Cézanne), and, more routinely, to his being treated almost as a kind of anthropological spectacle or ethnographic curiosity, a sort of “White Indian” to go and see at Macuto.
Ay Ay Ay Que Guayabo
coco radicante/portable Caribbean/tropical longing
melancholic papelon/homesick palms/shredded coconut utopia
desert island/raindance/eternal summer/la corriente de Humboldt
Tenia el cuatro en el chinchorro/Rascao me le acosté arriba
“Uriji jami!,” the title of this book, is an expression used by the Waika Indians of the Upper Orinoco to describe their way of life of roaming about freely in the forest.