The main purpose of our trip was to visit extended family and gather old photos. It was great to meet new people who made me feel so welcome and comfortable in their homes.
One of the highlights was for the girls to meet their bisabuelos- great grandparents. This is Mama Elena, as her grandchildren fondly call her.
The girls kept themselves entertained in any way possible. One favorite activity that they asked for whenever we were at Mama Elena's was to wash her sidewalks. They would get completely soaked, but in the super hot humid weather it felt great!
As a gardener at heart I loved finding beautiful flowers and plants. Many of the typical indoor plants that we grow here are grown outdoors as ground covers and ornamental.
The girl's bisabuleo was very fond of them. Purchasing them dolls, cereal for their final breakfast and spending time with them. He would tickle Lucy's feet and once he would stop Lucy would quickly put her foot up again asking to be tickled.
We visited one of Ed's great Aunt's and the girls were fascinated by the Nativity set. Nativities are a little different in Mexico, Central and South America. They are a collection of several traditional pieces such as Mary, Joseph, Shepherd and Wise Men but there are also little houses to create a village, animals and whatever else you want. Ed has memories of putting dinosaurs in his. It is something that the family puts together and baby Jesus is not put in the manager until Christmas Eve. I think it would be fun for Ed to put together a Venezuelan Nativity with our girls in the future. I even brought home a Nativity set!
His great Aunt lived on the beach of Lake Maracaibo and it was beautiful!
The girls had fun playing the sand while Ed asked family history questions. I found a coconut tree and thought that if I sit by it then it would be a good place to watch the girls play. It was a great place until I realized that I had two huge tar-like things stuck to my bottom. As further examination we discovered it was oil from the polluted lake. It really is a sad thing, the lake is truly beautiful.
We stayed at Ed's uncle's house in La Canada. They brought in a twin size bed for the girls and we all slept together. This worked out well although both girls wanted to share our bed once we got home. That quickly was ended.
We washed our clothes at Ed's Abuela's house. We used an old Chaga-Chaga washing machine and then hung everything outside to dry. The girls loved helping hang up the clothes.
Olivia and Lucy in a cool air-conditioned room watching Spanish cartoons. Thanks to the BBC!
Lucy wearing bisabuela's hat.
Olivia LOVED playing with her little second cousin, Andrea.
In Maracaibo there is a little neighborhood called Santa Lucia. There you find old colonial homes painted bright colors. Some were in great condition like the ones below but the majority were run down.
In Venezuela we showed our family the pictures that we had taken so far and they were surprised that I had taken this photo. I simply wanted to show what it is that I saw. This is a typical site, garbage on the side of the road.
We stopped at park that ran along the lake. It would be a great place to walk.
One great thing that we had the opportunity to do was attend a child's birthday party. They really go all out for parties. The girls loved to dance to the up-beat music that played.
This is what was inside the take-home treat bag. They also each received a large ball and the goodies from the pinata. It makes our party favors look a little skimpy!
Here I am rinsing the clothes before hanging them out to dry. They are washed inside the machine but must be rinsed and rung-out outside. I actually enjoyed this but don't know if it's something that I would want to do on a daily basis.
Here, once again the girls found something to do at bisabuela's house. They loved to water the outside plants but they had a tendency to drown the poor plants so this activity didn't last for very long.
The outside sink that I used to rinse clothes in is also a great place to bath a baby since they only have showers. Lucy loved having bathes outside!
One day we ALL (aunts and several cousins) piled into a pick-up truck and headed to Ed's uncle's farm. Olivia thought that riding in the back was great and naturally Lucy thought that she had to join them. I should mention that this is perfectly legal to do in Venezuela and there really are no car seats. With all the pot-holes you really can't go very fast.
Lucy had a knack for finding places to get dirty. At farm she quickly found this mud puddle and stepped in it. I don't think she did it on purpose since she was so upset about it.
At the farm the little girls played together in kiddy pools, played in the dirty and hammocks.
I thought this was hilarious! Mama Elena had joined the adults at the swimming area for a bit but because she is so tiny she couldn't touch the bottom. Next thing we know, she is in the kiddy pool with the children. :)
Venezuelan cows look different than American cows. Notice their big floppy ears!
One day we took a ferry across the lake to nearby town. Unfortunately since we had spent 4 hours standing in a line at the bank earlier that day, we had no time to explore.
This is a typical breakfast. Certainly delicious but I looked forward to non-fried foods.
This was a fairly typical meal. Rice, baked plantains with soft cheese, pasta and meat. The meat here is liver in coconut and actually tasted pretty good! And there was also Coca-cola.
I had to give the girls anti-malarial every morning and the best way to do so was to crush up the pills and pile on the chocolate syrup. I called this chocolate medicine.
Overall, the trip was a great experience and I would love to return someday. I loved the fact that I go to explore a new country not as a tourist but as a local. I really got to see what life was like there. The people in Venezuela as VERY friendly. We had perfect strangers give us food for a crying Lucy on a local airplane! I know that the experiences my girls had will be with them forever! An even though I got very sick in the end, selling my furniture (truly) was worth it!