I call it foolhardiness. Others may call it an adventure, or, even, FUN. Any way you look at it, hanging 800 feet in the air inside a tiny glass box was out of the ordinary for me, or my family. Although I was mostly worried about the thin cable by which the contraption hung, it was impossible to miss the gorgeous view. The thick carpet of jungle below covered the rocky peaks, and a majestic condor swooped within ten feet of our car and flew into an alcove of the mountain. All around us I could see and hear the wonders of the Caribbean jungle. Nowhere else on earth does Nature so completely take your breath away as among the mountain ridges that surround the city of Caracas, Venezuela.
But we were just getting started. As the car inched over the last ridge and onto the landing bay, I caught sight of our destination: Avila Magica, which means Magical Avila, a fascinating tourist villa that nestled into the shadows and snaked through the mist. Here we escaped the metropolis below, and the fresh air whisked through the tiny village, whispering in the tall firs. The fare for the thrilling cable car ride ($5 in the local currency, Bolivares) did much more than justify these moments of sheltered silence in this enchanting corner of the world.
As my parents and I continued our walk through the villa, snapping pictures of the poignant, quiet scenes all around us, we came to an observation deck that jutted out of the mountain. It took a few minutes for the mist to clear away, but when it did, we were greeted with two amazing sights. On my right hand, stretching out into infinity, was the bright blue expanse of the Caribbean Sea. From my vantage point I could also see the snow white beaches below, and also Caracas’ international airport, Simon Bolivar Airport. But on my right a magnificent vista spread out through the valley. Sprawling throughout the bowl between the mountains and onto the roots of Mt. Avila, Caracas’ numberless skyscrapers and highrises jutted out into the sky. Comprised of over 8 million inhabitants, the Venezuelan capital is absolutely brimming with the contagious energy of Latinos. Inside its vast metropolitan jungle, the very essence of the Caribbean lifestyle can be found, bubbling out of its beautiful and charming people.
The next stop on that enchanted afternoon was the villa’s ice rink. For only $5, we each got hour-long passes to the rink, and spent the rest of the time skimming across the ice in the frosty air. I would venture to say that Caracas is one of the few places on earth where big city entertainment, all-night beach romps, and a chilly skating outing are all within twenty minutes of driving.
But, to use the cliche, all good things must come to an end. And while I will not easily forget the hushed beauty and tranquility of that mountain villa, it would be harder to forget the speed in which those few hours flew by. As we boarded the car for our descent, I looked back at the Humboldt Hotel, towering out of the mist. I hope to return and stay the night someday, for Avila Magica is very aptly named. Magic resides in every corner and whisper of wind of that tiny gem of the mountain.
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