Saturday, February 28, 2004

Wildfire Season

The photo below of yours truly standing at an abondoned oil well also includes a reference to forest fires. This time of year in Monagas State, eastern Venezuela, is called the dry season. I don't think it has rained for a couple of weeks now and the land is getting very dry. Last evening I joined a group going to a company barbeque in Temblador, about 100 kilometers from Maturin. The main road passes through open ranch land - llanos - for much of the way. We saw numerous fires as we sped south. They can be started in several ways, but those by the roadside are probably "man made". At one point we drove through smoke and flames, all very threatening. Driving back at midnight the fires were still blazing - there seems to be no effort to put them out - and they were even more dramatic. I'm glad our tires didn't catch on fire!

Friday, February 27, 2004


If you were to ask "which country do you associate with chocolate?" most would probably answer Belgium or Switzerland. But the really good stuff comes from Venezuela! I think El Rey may be the very best as they grow the finest cocoa beans in the best areas of the country. Their dark chocolate has a wonderful flavor - I can quite understand that people become addicted to the stuff!

Thursday, February 26, 2004


Carnival was a four day holiday that largely passed me by. Work was a priority. However, the photo below sums up the color and joy that Carnival brings to children. The two girls were having their photo taken in the "best decorated street" in Maturin and I stopped to join in the fun.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Looking for old oil wells

On Tuesday the rest of the population celebrated the last day of Carnival (a.k.a. Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday). I went in search of some old oil wells and to prove it here is a photo of me checking the GPS location of a well discovered in the middle of a forest that burned about two years ago.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Back to Venezuela

The rest of my stay in Houston saw rain and more miserable rain, right up to the day I left to return to Venezuela. But I was able to do a few interesting things. The best was to take several rides on MetroRail, Houston's new light rail service. The first time was a legitimate journey, to an all day meeting downtown. The Museum District Station is 3-4 blocks from home so just a few minutes walk. Buy an all day ticket for $2 (which will also allow transfer to a bus journey) and enjoy the ride down Main Street. The second trip was an excuse to take a walk downtown on Saturday afternoon. The train was full, standing room only, with many "first-timers" some of whom had clearly never ridden on public transport before!

I'll be adding several photos to the MetroRail portfolio. As many people agree, Houston as a city has finally "grown up". There used to be an efficient "interurban service" up to 1948 when the automobile completely took over and the concrete lobby began to amass their riches! So it would be better to say that Houston has found itself again, buried under all that concrete!

Saturday, February 07, 2004

Tempus Fugit

Hard to believe two plus weeks have passed since the last post. I guess I've been busy!

The weather in Maturin in January and February is reasonably dry and not too humid. Surprisingly there are very few mosquitos - strange after living in Houston for so many years.

I just flew into Houston for a few days and the weather is quite special - not a cloud in the sky, cool dry air. A cool front must have just passed through!