Following on from the past couple of nights, I now share with you the third day of my Venezuelan adventure. Today was much quieter than yesterday. My day started before sunrise again. I expect this will become habitual.
I awoke at 5am and was ready for my first training session by 6am. I must say, I like getting up early. It reminds me of my time training in BOGOTA. First I was off to the gym for a good interval session on the spinning bike. I realized very quickly that I was dying (almost). I was losing 1 liter of water per minute and it had already reached 29 degrees. Well ... needless to say, it is a big change to spending the last 2 month in Berlin, where temperatures sunk to -10C. At 8am, half of my job as a pro skater was done ... (pat on back)!
Back at the BUNKER, I worked with Fabian to organise the trip to Europe for 20 national Venezuelan skaters lasting over a month. Even though organising logistics is not part of my job, I am helping Fabian on the French leg of the tour. Setting up bookings etc. is no easy task indeed. After a short break for lunch I had a tanning sesh ... or roasting sesh more appropriately at 38C. Before turning into a well-done Rumpsteak, I ended my outdoor solarium session. We left for the sports ministry so that I could meet people I'll have to work with. Unfortunately, contrary to advice from official government sources, it was still closed due to the national mourning ...
In the afternoon we headed to the velodrome so I could train again. After more than an hour in traffic (with full tilt music! Including "la gordita" by Felipe Pelaez, which I love), I met Venezulean former World Champion (2003), Alexander Bastidas there. After my training was shortened due to technical difficulties, we headed back home on an alternative route.
ROCK N 'ROLL! We went through the "barrio cota 905", nothing less than a death-trap. I discovered another facet of Venezuela - badly built houses stacked side-by-side on the slopes of mountains - reminiscent of the images you certainly have of Rio's "favelas" .
I can tell you it is not all white sand beaches and coconut trees out there. People really 'survive' in the real sense of the word. By night, the atmosphere is eery and extremely dangerous and Fabian decided not to go any further, returning to the ring road towards home. I am trying to give an account of my experiences here because I believe, beyond my mission at the Federation, it is important that I learn about all the facets of this country. I'm not indulging in voyeurism, but rather, I want to realize that living conditions here are unimaginably worse than in parts of the world where we complain about seemingly nothing. Tomorrow may be a little more intense again. In between training and work we are hoping to go to the military college where Chavez's body is on display for the crowds. I want to see the crowds who line for this giant and feel the atmosphere around him. But for now, sleep.