Well! The first real day in Merida. I woke up pretty early this morning to the sounds of motorbikes and cars whizzing past my window to the most beautiful sight I have ever seen. I am in the mountains! I am surrounded by beautiful, amazing mountains. Mi madre served my roommate Jenee and I arepas con huevos, and it was really delish. It was like a crispy, soft, squishy english muffin... sort of. After breakfast, mi padre gave us our keys and showed us how to open and lock all of the doors. I feel really secure here, there are four doors between me and the inside of mis padres's house.
After we successfully showed that we could open and close the doors, he walked us to school to show us where some of the essentials are, and also to show us how to get to school. We found la lavandería, the laundromat, and el supermercado, the grocery store. There is so much to look at and see here, especially the first day, that I was just trying as hard as I could to suck it all in.
When we got to VENUSA, we met some other people that worked there and waited for orientation to start. I definitely understand better today the Venezuelan understanding of time. It is not exactly the same. Here, things happen when they happen, and as for the schedule that we have, it seems to be more of a suggestion than an actual plan. This isn't a complaint, by any means, but a mere observation as someone that has never experienced that culture. I like it quite well actually! Orientation was very basic, and was over almost two hours before it was supposed to. After that, some other students and I attempted to take a walk, before our plan was thwarted by some unexpected rain overhead. We instead waited inside for the rain to clear, and then found a really cute panderia to get some lunch from.
I think it is going to take me some time to understand these Bolivares. Today for lunch, I attempted to pay with coins, and didn't realize I had only given her the equivalent of $0,50 Bolivares instead of $5,00 like I thought I was doing. Oh well, she had a little giggle and then helped me to sort out my cash.
After a whole lot of waiting around at VENUSA, we went on a tour of the city by bus. It was soo fantastic. We saw so much of the city that I didn't even know existed! We saw El Centro, which is like downtown, and got some awesome arepas from a street vender and also visited an amazing heladeria that had well over 400 flavors posted. I settled on a small cup of rose-flavored icecream, and also sampled the arroz (rice) , chile, ajo (garlic), cebolla (onion), and kiwi. They were all pretty delicious, even the ajo, except the flavor in your mouth lasted quite a long time. When we got back onto the bus to go back to VENUSA, the bus driver turned up the reggaeton music LOUD and Jose Carlos and John from the school had a blast showing off their (amazing) dance skills. After a little while, it was our turn. They chose people at random to dance up the aisle of the bus, show off their skills to everyone, and then dance back to their seats. All the while they were laughing, screaming, clapping, and yelling, "Baile!" Song after song we danced along to the beat, some much more willing to dance than others. I think this was the best introduction to this amazing city I think that I could have had.
Tomorrow we have a day-long trip to the mountains, and I can't wait. I have heard that it is fairly cold, but time will tell what "frio" actually means to Venezuelans, who are used to the humidity and mild temperatures in Merida. I am sure being from Minnesota I can handle it. Hell, I've survived all those winters, right?