Mérida, Venezuela

Merida to Los Nevados: in the Andean Ends of Venezuela

La Aguada
La Aguada cabin of the old Mérida cable car system transports passengers from 1600 meters of altitude in the city to the top of the Sierra Nevada, almost at 4800 meters.
On the way to Pico Espejo
A cabin of the old Mérida cable car (the longest and highest in the world) goes up towards Pico Espejo.
The window
Passengers from the old Mérida cable car observe the scenery on the way down to the city.
agricultural retail
Agricultural fields that precede Los Nevados, on a slope of the Sierra Nevada de Mérida.
Mucubaji Lagoon
Horse grazes herbs on the surface of the Mucubaji lagoon in the highlands of Páramo, on the outskirts of the city of Mérida.
Flower of Frailejon
Frailejon flower, a furry perennial plant endemic to the Sierra Nevada de Mérida and parts of the Colombian Andes
Los Nevadas
Resident walks down the main street of Los Nevados, a village lost in a valley in the Sierra Nevada de Mérida.
The Espejo Peak
The snow-dusted peak of Pico Espejo, at 4800 m altitude but not very cold due to the latitude close to the equator of this part of Venezuela.
Plaza Bolívar
Two young Venezuelans cross the center of Plaza Bolivar, the heart of Mérida.
Mr. Manuel
A roadside vendor rests a little near the stone chapel of San Pedro de Mucuchies, in San Rafael, on the outskirts of Mérida.
Vaquero de Los Nevadas
Inhabitant of Los Nevados at the door of a tavern in the village
View of Los Nevadas
Los Nevados resident enjoys his village from the veranda of a local bar.
An elderly resident of Los Nevados in the picturesque costume of a jacketed cowboy.
Los Nevadas
View of Los Nevados from an elevation on the way to the village
In the 40s and 50s, Venezuela attracted 400 Portuguese but only half stayed in Caracas. In Mérida, we find places more similar to the origins and the eccentric ice cream parlor of an immigrant portista.

Province of Mérida: this is where the Andes have their last death throes on the northern tip of South America.

Shortly thereafter, they merge with the Coastal Range, the cross chain of mountains that hides the Caribbean Sea.

The interior region, located along the border with the Colombia, is the national Mecca for hikers and high-altitude hikers in general.

Merida to Los Nevados borders of the Andes, Venezuela

The snow-dusted peak of Pico Espejo, at 4800 m altitude but not very cold due to the latitude close to the equator of this part of Venezuela.

We had already covered many kilometers in the streets from its homonymous capital when we realize that, thanks to one of the many enterprising Portuguese who settled in Venezuela, it also inspired foodies of this world.

Manuel da Silva. An Emigrant Who Gives Venezuela More Flavor

Manuel da Silva Oliveira arrived from Porto still young. He arrived with experience as a bartender and cook and opened a restaurant in Merida.

Business was in full swing when, one day, a salesman asked him if he didn't want to keep an ice cream maker. “Don Manolo” – as he has been known for a long time – understood food and drink. Not really ice cream. Still, when the traveling salesman explained to him how simple the preparation was, he ended up buying the machine.

In a first phase, he simply followed the instructions. Mixed the milk with the chemical essences of chocolate, strawberry and the ice cream.

Ice cream was ready in a flash. They began to satisfy the population of the city.

Merida to Los Nevados borders of the Andes, Venezuela

Two young Venezuelans cross the center of Plaza Bolivar, the heart of Mérida.

But essences were not always available and the machine did not mix natural raw materials properly.

After some discussion with the seller, Manuel da Silva Oliveira managed to have his machine replaced by another one and even offered a special mixer, much better suited to mixing the necessary ingredients with the milk. That change and his perseverance dictated a future he would never dare to predict.

The Coromoto Gelataria Recordist Flavors Showcase

Years passed. Don Manolo got fed up with working for the companies that owned the machines that kept him with a good part of the profit. He opened his own ice cream parlor. To the three or four compounds that Venezuela was used to, he added several other fruits, fresh and dried.

Vegetables and liquors followed, all with the ease that Merida is the orchard and vegetable garden of Venezuela. Then came shellfish, fish and who knows what else.

Opened in 1981, the Coromoto ice cream parlor quickly assembled an impressive portfolio. Over time, it surpassed 800 ice cream creations. It was recognized by the Guinness Book as the ice cream shop with the most flavors in the world. This status was clearly marked in bright neon lights over the entrance to the establishment. And it attracted travelers from all over the world.

But the business' fame didn't stop his mentor's aging. Manuel Oliveira da Silva lost the youth of other times and, with it, the patience for routine.

He passed the management of the business to José Ramirez. The Portuguese accent of Venezuelan Castilian disappeared behind the counter and the refrigerated windows. His mustache remained and the flavors never stopped increasing. At the time of this text, the Coromoto ice cream parlor sold over a thousand.

José Ramirez does not need to give us a taste of conventional flavours: “See which ones you feel like trying and let me know. I see if they are ready for everyone!"

Ice Cream Flavors Literally for Every Taste

We scan the endless list that decorates the walls. We let ourselves be amazed. Onions, spaghetti and cheese, garlic and corn would be suspect desserts anywhere in the world. At Coromoto, the stranger goes further. "Sardines in Brandy"and "Hope by Viagra” make us laugh unceremoniously and taste much better than expected.

In a mildly sweet way, the “Creole Pavilion” manages to be faithful to one of the emblematic dishes of Venezuela. Next door, someone chokes and asks for an urgent glass of water. I had just tested “chilli".

Spoon by spoon, we try to decipher the semantic mysteries behind "British Airways","Andean Bees","pardon, dear","Frontera Diary"and "samba pa mi”, we also challenge the extravagance of “La Vino Red","Spooker"and "Rice with Pulpo".

Coromoto ice cream parlor sells more than 80 flavored loaves a day. Despite a lot of curiosity, we didn't even get to taste half of it. An equally refreshing village awaited us.

Ascent to the Andean Heights of Merida

The next morning we caught the the city's emblematic cable car towards Pico Bolivar (4980m), a route to the roof of Venezuela that we are also told is the world record holder both in terms of length (12,5 km) and the altitude at which it reaches (4765m).

Merida to Los Nevados borders of the Andes, Venezuela

A cabin of the old Mérida cable car (the longest and highest in the world) goes up towards Pico Espejo.

At Merida's level, there was a pleasant warmth. With a mere ten minutes of ascent on the city cable car, we surpassed 3.000 meters. In the shade, the cold becomes uncomfortable.

Only the Pico Espejo terminal station (4765m), a few hundred meters from Pico Bolivar (4978m) brings back the warmth of the sun's rays.

Below, in the wide and green valley of the Sierra Nevada, the Merida houses.

Upwards are the sharp peaks of the Andes and, on the opposite foothills, Los Nevados, a picturesque small town, isolated from civilization by the lack of real means of communication.

Merida to Los Nevados borders of the Andes, Venezuela

Passengers from the old Mérida cable car observe the scenery on the way down to the city.

And the Steep Descent to the pueblito White from Los Nevadas

It is there that we go down on foot, after refusing to take the route by mule or jeep, in order to save money and our back and to be able to appreciate and photograph the scenery.

We are accompanied by a French family of “sailors” on land. A couple with two children who, tired of the monotonous and rainy life of Nantes, exchanged security and property, by a sailboat at anchor in Papeete, Tahiti. And that, from there, it started to set sail for the world whenever the money earned as dentists allowed it.

The journey of a few hours, largely downhill, proves undemanding and visually pleasing. It is adorned by the high-altitude vegetation that the locals call Páramos.

Merida to Los Nevados borders of the Andes, Venezuela

Agricultural fields that precede Los Nevados, on a slope of the Sierra Nevada de Mérida.

At some point, a new valley appears, covered by a multicolored carpet of cultivated fields. And right after, the village we were looking for.

We glimpsed it as we had discovered it in one or two photographic books that pay homage to that elusive interior of Venezuela, with the pointed tower of its church jutting out from the whitewashed houses.

Merida to Los Nevados borders of the Andes, Venezuela

View of Los Nevados from an elevation on the way to the village

The name left little room for imagination. Los Nevados was named after the snowfalls that once covered it with a second layer of white.

Los Nevados where it no longer snows

in conversation with a cowboy site, we confirm that this has not happened for a long time. “Friends, I can't even remember the last time… my parents, yes, they talk about it many times, among themselves and with the older people here”.

Nothing to astonish. Warming is supposedly global. Given the village's altitude, 1000 or so meters, and its almost equatorial position in the world, it would be difficult for it to continue to snow there.

Today, lost in time, Los Nevados reveals itself as a typical rural refuge in the province of Mérida, sloping like few others, with dreary grocery stores and an intimidating tavern where natural light doesn't enter.

Jeans in worn clothes, brave children and old men walk up and down its two steep sidewalks busy with intriguing chores.

Merida to Los Nevados borders of the Andes, Venezuela

Inhabitant of Los Nevados at the door of a tavern in the village

Throughout the afternoon, we discover the village and the mountainous surroundings. At dinner, this French family amazes us with story after story of their sailings around the world, including escapes from Malaysian and Indonesian pirates and nationless storms.

That night we slept her in a local country inn. As soon as the sun appears over the ridges, we return to defying the rural privacy of Los Nevados.

Merida to Los Nevados borders of the Andes, Venezuela

Resident walks down the main street of Los Nevados, a village lost in a valley in the Sierra Nevada de Mérida.

In the early afternoon, we all decided to return to Mérida in the only shared transport that could save us from the painful hike up the mountain: an old jeep overloaded with huge millstones.

Vertiginous Journey through the Serrania and the Return to the Urban Base of Mérida

Never, on a trip, had the discomfort of lack of space and jolts seemed so secondary to us. The route takes place along a dirt road that is almost always carved into the hillside and looks out over the precipices of the Sierra Nevada.

By itself, the setting had little tranquility. As if that wasn't enough, the weight of the eight passengers and the millstones made the jeep adorn more than usual for the dramatic side.

This adornment left us between apprehension and panic. Nor the jokes thrown by the driver and a friend, both in need of fun. “Hold on tight or it'll give you flour!” they eased the tension.

Little by little, we left the conquered stretch of the mountain behind. We completed the rest of the route much faster and more smoothly.

Merida to Los Nevados borders of the Andes, Venezuela

Horse grazes herbs on the surface of the Mucubaji lagoon in the highlands of Páramo, on the outskirts of the city of Mérida.

We arrived in Merida two hours before sunset. Coromoto was still open.

We entered. We ordered some of the flavors that seemed to be able to help us decompress from the newly overcome torment.

Among the choices were "Cerelac"and "Frontera Diary".

Los Llanos, the swampy, anaconda-filled region of the interior of Venezuela was our next.

There we also find lost Portuguese.

Pueblos del Sur, Venezuela

The Pueblos del Sur Locainas, Their Dances and Co.

From the beginning of the XNUMXth century, with Hispanic settlers and, more recently, with Portuguese emigrants, customs and traditions well known in the Iberian Peninsula and, in particular, in northern Portugal, were consolidated in the Pueblos del Sur.

Gran Sabana, Venezuela

A Real Jurassic Park

Only the lonely EN-10 road ventures into Venezuela's wild southern tip. From there, we unveil otherworldly scenarios, such as the savanna full of dinosaurs in the Spielberg saga.

Altitude Sickness: the Grievances of Getting Mountain Sick

When traveling, it happens that we find ourselves confronted with the lack of time to explore a place as unmissable as it is high. Medicine and previous experiences with Altitude Evil dictate that we should not risk ascending in a hurry.
Pueblos del Sur, Venezuela

Behind the Venezuela Andes. Fiesta Time.

In 1619, the authorities of Mérida dictated the settlement of the surrounding territory. The order resulted in 19 remote villages that we found dedicated to commemorations with caretos and local pauliteiros.
Mount Roraima, Venezuela

Time Travel to the Lost World of Mount Roraima

At the top of Mount Roraima, there are extraterrestrial scenarios that have resisted millions of years of erosion. Conan Doyle created, in "The Lost World", a fiction inspired by the place but never got to step on it.
PN Canaima, Venezuela

Kerepakupai, Salto Angel: The River that Falls from Heaven

In 1937, Jimmy Angel landed a light aircraft on a plateau lost in the Venezuelan jungle. The American adventurer did not find gold but he conquered the baptism of the longest waterfall on the face of the Earth
Mérida, Venezuela

The Vertiginous Renovation of the World's Highest Cable Car

Underway from 2010, the rebuilding of the Mérida cable car was carried out in the Sierra Nevada by intrepid workers who suffered firsthand the magnitude of the work.
Henri Pittier NP, Venezuela

PN Henri Pittier: between the Caribbean Sea and the Cordillera da Costa

In 1917, botanist Henri Pittier became fond of the jungle of Venezuela's sea mountains. Visitors to the national park that this Swiss created there are, today, more than they ever wanted
Mendoza, Argentina

From One Side to the Other of the Andes

Departing from Mendoza city, the N7 route gets lost in vineyards, rises to the foot of Mount Aconcagua and crosses the Andes to Chile. Few cross-border stretches reveal the magnificence of this forced ascent
Mérida, Mexico

The Most Exuberant of Meridas

In 25 BC, the Romans founded Emerita Augusta, capital of Lusitania. The Spanish expansion generated three other Méridas in the world. Of the four, the Yucatan capital is the most colorful and lively, resplendent with Hispanic colonial heritage and multi-ethnic life.
Margarita Island ao Mochima NP, Venezuela

Margarita Island to Mochima National Park: a very Caribbean Caribe

The exploration of the Venezuelan coast justifies a wild nautical party. But, these stops also reveal life in cactus forests and waters as green as the tropical jungle of Mochima.
Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique, Wildlife, lions
NP Gorongosa, Mozambique

The Wild Heart of Mozambique shows Signs of Life

Gorongosa was home to one of the most exuberant ecosystems in Africa, but from 1980 to 1992 it succumbed to the Civil War waged between FRELIMO and RENAMO. Greg Carr, Voice Mail's millionaire inventor received a message from the Mozambican ambassador to the UN challenging him to support Mozambique. For the good of the country and humanity, Carr pledged to resurrect the stunning national park that the Portuguese colonial government had created there.
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit: 5th - Ngawal a BragaNepal

Towards the Nepalese Braga

We spent another morning of glorious weather discovering Ngawal. There is a short journey towards Manang, the main town on the way to the zenith of the Annapurna circuit. We stayed for Braga (Braka). The hamlet would soon prove to be one of its most unforgettable places.
Bertie in jalopy, Napier, New Zealand
Architecture & Design
Napier, New Zealand

Back to the 30s

Devastated by an earthquake, Napier was rebuilt in an almost ground-floor Art Deco and lives pretending to stop in the Thirties. Its visitors surrender to the Great Gatsby atmosphere that the city enacts.
Bungee jumping, Queenstown, New Zealand
Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown, the Queen of Extreme Sports

In the century. XVIII, the Kiwi government proclaimed a mining village on the South Island "fit for a queen".Today's extreme scenery and activities reinforce the majestic status of ever-challenging Queenstown.
MassKara Festival, Bacolod City, Philippines
Ceremonies and Festivities
Bacolod, Philippines

A Festival to Laugh at Tragedy

Around 1980, the value of sugar, an important source of wealth on the Philippine island of Negros, plummeted and the ferry “Don Juan” that served it sank and took the lives of more than 176 passengers, most of them from Negrès. The local community decided to react to the depression generated by these dramas. That's how MassKara arose, a party committed to recovering the smiles of the population.
Key West Wall, Florida Keys, United States
Key West, USA

The Tropical Wild West of the USA

We've come to the end of the Overseas Highway and the ultimate stronghold of propagandism Florida Keys. The continental United States here they surrender to a dazzling turquoise emerald marine vastness. And to a southern reverie fueled by a kind of Caribbean spell.
Fogón de Lola, great food, Costa Rica, Guápiles
Fogón de Lola Costa Rica

The Flavor of Costa Rica of El Fogón de Lola

As the name suggests, the Fogón de Lola de Guapiles serves dishes prepared on the stove and in the oven, according to Costa Rican family tradition. In particular, Tia Lola's.
Phi Phi Islands, Thailand

Back to Danny Boyle's The Beach

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Swimming, Western Australia, Aussie Style, Sun rising in the eyes
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2000 meters in Aussie Style

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Prayer flags in Ghyaru, Nepal
Annapurna Circuit: 4th – Upper Banana to Ngawal, Nepal

From Nightmare to Dazzle

Unbeknownst to us, we are faced with an ascent that leads us to despair. We pulled our strength as far as possible and reached Ghyaru where we felt closer than ever to the Annapurnas. The rest of the way to Ngawal felt like a kind of extension of the reward.
Basotho Cowboys, Malealea, Lesotho
Malealea, Lesotho

Life in the African Kingdom of Heaven

Lesotho is the only independent state located entirely above XNUMX meters. It is also one of the countries at the bottom of the world ranking of human development. Its haughty people resist modernity and all the adversities on the magnificent but inhospitable top of the Earth that befell them.
View of Fa Island, Tonga, Last Polynesian Monarchy
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Got2Globe Portfolio

Exotic Signs of Life

Engravings, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
luxor, Egypt

From Luxor to Thebes: Journey to Ancient Egypt

Thebes was raised as the new supreme capital of the Egyptian Empire, the seat of Amon, the God of Gods. Modern Luxor inherited the Temple of Karnak and its sumptuousness. Between one and the other flow the sacred Nile and millennia of dazzling history.
View of Serra do Cume, Terceira Island, Unique Azores
Terceira Island, Azores

Terceira Island: Journey through a Unique Archipelago of the Azores

It was called the Island of Jesus Christ and has radiated, for a long time, the cult of the Holy Spirit. It houses Angra do Heroísmo, the oldest and most splendid city in the archipelago. These are just two examples. The attributes that make Terceira island unique are endless.
Northern Lights, Laponia, Rovaniemi, Finland, Fire Fox
Winter White
Lapland, Finland

In Search of the Fire Fox

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View from the top of Mount Vaea and the tomb, Vailima village, Robert Louis Stevenson, Upolu, Samoa
Upolu, Samoa

Stevenson's Treasure Island

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São Miguel Island, Dazzling Colors by Nature
São Miguel (Azores), Azores

São Miguel Island: Stunning Azores, By Nature

An immaculate biosphere that the Earth's entrails mold and soften is displayed, in São Miguel, in a panoramic format. São Miguel is the largest of the Portuguese islands. And it is a work of art of Nature and Man in the middle of the North Atlantic planted.
Mother Armenia Statue, Yerevan, Armenia
Yerevan, Armenia

A Capital between East and West

Heiress of the Soviet civilization, aligned with the great Russia, Armenia allows itself to be seduced by the most democratic and sophisticated ways of Western Europe. In recent times, the two worlds have collided in the streets of your capital. From popular and political dispute, Yerevan will dictate the new course of the nation.
Tsitsikamma National Park
Natural Parks
Garden Route, South Africa

The Garden Coast of South Africa

Extending over more than 200km of natural coastline, the Garden Route zigzags through forests, beaches, lakes, gorges and splendid natural parks. We travel from east to west, along the dramatic bottoms of the African continent.
The Dominican Republic Balnear de Barahona, Balneario Los Patos
UNESCO World Heritage
Barahona, Dominican Republic

The Bathing Dominican Republic of Barahona

Saturday after Saturday, the southwest corner of the Dominican Republic goes into decompression mode. Little by little, its seductive beaches and lagoons welcome a tide of euphoric people who indulge in a peculiar rumbear amphibian.
Look-alikes, Actors and Extras

Make-believe stars

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Bather, The Baths, Devil's Bay (The Baths) National Park, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

Virgin Gorda's Divine “Caribbaths”

Discovering the Virgin Islands, we disembark on a tropical and seductive seaside dotted with huge granite boulders. The Baths seem straight out of the Seychelles but they are one of the most exuberant marine scenery in the Caribbean.
Jerusalem God, Israel, Golden City
Jerusalem, Israel

Closer to God

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Chepe Express, Chihuahua Al Pacifico Railway
On Rails
Creel to Los Mochis, Mexico

The Barrancas del Cobre & the CHEPE Iron Horse

The Sierra Madre Occidental's relief turned the dream into a construction nightmare that lasted six decades. In 1961, at last, the prodigious Chihuahua al Pacifico Railroad was opened. Its 643km cross some of the most dramatic scenery in Mexico.
Dali, China

Chinese Style Flash Mob

The time is set and the place is known. When the music starts playing, a crowd follows the choreography harmoniously until time runs out and everyone returns to their lives.
Saksun, Faroe Islands, Streymoy, warning
Daily life
Saksun, streymoyFaroe Islands

The Faroese Village That Doesn't Want to be Disneyland

Saksun is one of several stunning small villages in the Faroe Islands that more and more outsiders visit. It is distinguished by the aversion to tourists of its main rural owner, author of repeated antipathies and attacks against the invaders of his land.
Cape cross seal colony, cape cross seals, Namibia
Cape Cross, Namíbia

The Most Turbulent of the African Colonies

Diogo Cão landed in this cape of Africa in 1486, installed a pattern and turned around. The immediate coastline to the north and south was German, South African, and finally Namibian. Indifferent to successive transfers of nationality, one of the largest seal colonies in the world has maintained its hold there and animates it with deafening marine barks and endless tantrums.
Passengers, scenic flights-Southern Alps, New Zealand
Scenic Flights
Aoraki / Mount Cook, New Zealand

The Aeronautical Conquest of the Southern Alps

In 1955, pilot Harry Wigley created a system for taking off and landing on asphalt or snow. Since then, his company has unveiled, from the air, some of the greatest scenery in Oceania.