As the plane bounced on the runway, and gradually began to brake, I realized that I had finally landed in the beautiful valley of Venezuela. I peeked though the plane window, and was immediately drawn to the beauty of the country’s geography. Being accustomed to the flat terrain of Michigan, I was amazed by the size of the mountains all around us. I was also exited for having traded the cold Great Lakes, for the tropical Venezuelan coast. The seatbelt lights faded, and my adventure had begun.
I hadn’t been in the taxi for more than ten minutes, when I started realizing the extreme differences between the United States and Venezuela. As I marveled at the soaring mountains around me, my attention was drawn to a section of a mountain that was completely orange. As the traffic advanced and I approached this mysterious area, I realized it was a collection of brick squares. As I looked closer, I saw barred windows and crooked metal doors. I saw mothers hanging up clothes, and kids wondering carelessly through the steep slopes. I was witnessing the lifestyles of a great majority of the South American population.
Getting on the highway, I began to take notice of the different laws and regulations betweens Venezuela and Michigan. Since I was accustomed to strict speed limits and mandatory stops at stop signs, I was shocked by the lack of traffic law enforcement. There were posted speed limits and big red stops signs, but people seemed to ignore them, driving as fast as they desired and stopping when they felt necessary. I felt unsafe in this taxi, fearing an accident at any time.
I was finally unpacking my bags at the house I was staying at, when I heard five or six loud bangs. I was confused by the noise, but figured it was a firecracker or some type of firework. I paid little attention to it, but was soon alerted once again by policed and ambulance sirens. I looked out the window and saw that the flashing lights were spinning in the neighbor’s house. A crowd of people was gathered around the scene, and I soon learned that the firecrackers had been a round of gunshots. The neighbor had been carjacked, and shot in the leg.
Though this was not the most welcoming way to begin my summer, I took it as a warning, realizing the low level of security. I began to connect the puzzle pieces, and found it logical for houses to have fifteen-foot fences around them, and high-voltage electric fences. This was the first day f my trip, yet I had already learned a ton, and began to truly appreciate my lifestyle in the United States. My trip to Venezuela gave me a firsthand view of what life in South America is like, and made me thankful for what I have. I saw the six-year-old boy juggling limes at a stoplight for money, and the sixteen-year-old mom sleeping with her newborn under a bridge. My trip to Venezuela made me a more comprehensive person, and a more realistic human being.
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