Chacao Market in Caracas

14721518_10154599602749618_3622970407324197371_nIn any town, the market is my favorite place to visit. In Caracas, for the expat, Chacao market, is the place to buy fruits and vegetables. Chacao market is a five story high building but the stalls are located on the first two floors. The central area is open all the way to the ceiling. This makes for good people watching from the second floor railings. Despite what one hears about in the news, there is lots of food available if you have the money. Along with fruits and vegetables, the market has cheese stalls, egg stalls, and deli stalls. There are also some stalls specializing in imported goods. It’s possible to find almost everything, once in a while, at a heft price. There was a bag of rice which cost $130 back in December. Now it costs $280.

14720447_10154591938289618_2513827240827488746_nWhile shopping, I like to get a deep fried empanada snack. In the photo, the empanada cost under one buck. Sauce included. The prices have doubled in the past month.

Upstairs, one can buy juice from the juice guy (a liter costs about $2-3). I’m not sure why he is the only one in this business but he is. While he now has his own credit card machine, for a while he didn’t. There were primarily three types of juice available: orange, orange and carrot, and beet, orange, and ginger/mint (I think). Sometimes, he also sold grapefruit. No mandarin juice (which was common in Colombia).

This brings up another thing about this market, and I suppose many other places here. Not everyone has a credit card machine (or “point”) so sometimes you get sent down to another stall to charge your card and then you come back with the proof of payment. But, most vendors have a “line” or telephone line to connect their debit machines. When paying, you must enter your ID number and pin. You need your ID for almost everything so it’s good to memorize it.

Chacao market also has flowers for sale but nothing like the massive flower market in Bogota. Venezuela, like Colombia, has a varied climate so they could grow anything they could dream of. Some differences between Chacao and Paloquemao (in Bogota), is that the Venezuelans must have some use for unripe papaya because it’s possible to buy it in Chacao, but not in Paloquemao. Also, the cold weather fruits like applesa and pears are much pricier in Caracas. Chacao was still my favorite place in Caracas.

In the Eye of the iPhone?

img_0073As much as I like the photos that I take with my “big” DSLR camera, I’ve stopped lugging it around. Sometimes convenience is more important than a big lens. With the improved camera on the iPhone, I tend to just snap my food photos before I eat, and avoid a fancy photo shoot. I imported a photo from my iPhone SE and did a little post-production on it. Yup, I think it looks fine for my purposes. That said, I still work on having the light (muted daylight is best) coming from one angle, and I only take close-up photos.

Usually every photo can look amazing on a computer screen — it all depends on the number of pixels on the screen. But, to print a photo, it has to be a certain size. These new iPhone SE photos are large so I think they will print without too much pixelation. I’ll find out later when I work on a new book…

Dressing Up for the Tourists

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The villagers wait to perform at my “village” resort in the jungle.

Having been to many tourist destinations, I often think about the theater that goes on for my benefit. Nowhere is it more apparent than in places where the “natives” dress up in tradition costume for tourists. I don’t have any deep thoughts about this but it’s just something I notice. And makes me think of words like “experiential” and “interactive” — nothing deeper than that.

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A non-performing child suffering from the heat while in “daycare” on the bench.

These thoughts occur to me quite a bit when I look through my photos. One place where it was evident was in the Amazon when we were transported for a “visit to an indigenous village” I felt this most acutely. No one lived in the village as the “natives” all lived in Iquitos and commuted to work every day in the village. They looked suitably poker faced and bored. I suppose they didn’t dream of being actors. Or maybe they want to show that their culture was one of seriousness… This makes me wonder about humor in native societies. I never see anything about humor in museums. I would imagine that most societies have a sense of humor.Wot wot?

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A child performer adjusting his headdress.

Whatsapp – Graffiti Painted Bike

Sometimes communication requires a different form of “technology” language… when I was getting a custom paint job on my bicycle in Bogota, it wasn’t just that I had to learn more Spanish, but I found that it was easiest to communicate with the store manager via Whatsapp. Acquiring a product like a painted bike requires ceaseless vigilance and dogged constant contact… hence Whatsapp messages, and then magically, two months later, a reality in my possession.

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An example of some of the graffiti one can see in Bogota

Yup, I did find it sort of strange but eventually, I gave in… what’s that? Yes, I got my bike painted in a graffiti style as a homage to Bogota. Not in time to use it on Ciclovia, and just in time to pack with my belongings when I moved from Colombia. So, my advice is that if you plan to get anything custom made in Bogota, work on 12 months before you depart.