“Throughout the entire trip our group was able to experience a broad spectrum of Venezuelan geography, culture and peoples,” said Jim Crawford, assistant professor of Spanish, Department of Language and Communication. “The trip was designed to give students a true glimpse of Venezuelan culture and its people and not just particularly the typical tourist experience.”
Crawford organized the trip, titled “Discover a New World,” which took place June 9-23, for Spanish students who earned credit hours for the senior level Hispanic culture and civilization class. The trip was also open to anyone interested in visiting Venezuela.
“’Discover a New World’ covered a large portion of Venezuela beginning in Caracas, where students got a broadglimpse the capital city of approximately 6 million people. The next leg of the trip drew the travellers toAngel Falls, the highest waterfall in the world at 3,212 feet, roughly 1-1/2 times the height of the Empire State Building or approximately 2/3 mile high.
“Angel Falls is located in the southeastern portion of Venezuela in the jungle along the Gran Savana,” Crawford said. “To reach Angel Falls, we chartered three small 5-seater planes and flew into the indigenous village of Canaima in the jungle along the Carao River. We traveled approximately six hours up the river to near the base of the falls in a dugout boat with an outboard motor attached to the back of it. Along the way to the Angel Falls, we hiked in behind two other falls, Sapo Falls and Hacha Falls. After spending the night on the river sleeping in hammocks in an open pavilion, the group took about an hour and a half hike up through the jungle to the base of Angel Falls.”
After leaving Angel Falls, the group traveled back to Caracas where the second leg of the trip began: a drive through the Llanos plains region of Venezuela up into the Andes Mountains. In the Llanos the group visited the Sanctuary of Coromoto and the large Cathedral of Coromoto, built in honor of the Virgin of Coromoto the patroness of Venezuela. The group then traveled up the southern flank of the Andes Mountains to the city of Merida, approximately one mile high in the mountains. Merida is the home of one of the larger and more important universities of Venezuela, the University of the Andes.
“Along the route to Merida, we reached an altitude of approximately 11,700 feet above sea level,” Crawford said. “After visiting the city of Merida, we descended the northern flank of the Andes where we passed over Pico Aguila which reaches an altitude of 13,383 feet above sea level heading toward the coast.”
The group spent the last three days of the trip at the Caribbean beach of Bahia de Cata and La Cienaga where they were able to enjoy the beach and snorkel. En route to Bahia de Cata the group passed through the cloud forest in Henri Pittier National Park, where they saw howler monkeys in the wild. From Bahia de Cata they returned toCaracas. Along the way, the group stopped at the Murano glass factory, which was founded by the Murano glass factory from Venice, Italy.
The 13 participants in the trip Crawford, his niece Martha Austin, Christine Ferrell, instructor of Spanish and French, with her children, Caroline and Edouard; and students earning a minor in Spanish Dana Hart, Marcus Lee, Vera Day, Shelbi Crowe, Travis Batiste, Ebony Freemount, Ashley James and Kaysee Carrere.
“We are hoping to put together another trip to South America for the summer of 2013, possibly to Peru, andwould like to involve other departments in the university in the trip,” Crawford said.
Crawford has led trips to Venezuela, where he lived for nine years as a child, for approximately 15 years. He has partnered with a biology professor and English professor on previous trips to offer credit in Spanish, biology and English.