Friday, December 07, 2007

Interesting week for Venezuela

It has definitely been an interesting week for my country (Venezuela), after the first partial results were given by the CNE (National Elections Committee) stating that the constitutional reforms were not approved by the people (check older post below).
Venezuela saw Chavez accept the defeat without the rage or angry message a lot of people expected from him(Check BBC news).
Then Venezuela saw that expected reaction from Chavez while broadcasting with the Military. He qualified the victory of the opposition as a "Shitty victory", and mentioned that he didn't want to win in that way, and that he will put the reform through once more, even if it is not constitutional to do so. During his speech (check the video in Spanish) he mentions "Shit" 4 times, which is against the law; and then Venezuelans saw our "Communications Minister" say that the fact that the President did use the word will allow for it to be permitted in the future(check the video in Spanish).
Venezuela also heard his speech saying that "Here, the Sí lost, you let the Sí loose, Miranda owes me one, people of Miranda and Caracas you are in debt with me, I have it written down in my planner, let's see if you will pay your debt to me or not", while addressing the facts that his followers did not go vote massively on Sunday, as in prior occasions (best review in English I have read is in Caracas Chronicles blog)
To finish the week, Venezuelans wait for the CNE to give the full and final results of Sunday's polls in the next hours, while some analysts made note that the difference between "No" and "Si" might be significantly smaller that initially thought (Check Caracas Chronicles blog). And also Venezuelans are expected to roll back their clocks by 30 min next Sunday, as the "New Time Zone" for Venezuela gets into effect (Check Reuters for more details)

How much longer will this craziness continue? Well for that I recommend you read The Economist's article "The wind goes out of the revolution" it's worth the read!!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Chavez's reforms are not approved by Venezuela!!

The headlines in BBC read Chavez defeated over reform vote, in CNN headlines are Voters reject Chavez's referendum. The reality is that a good amount of Venezuelans decided yesterday to use their right to vote for or against the changes in the constitution put forward by Chavez and his government, and they were not approved!!.

Today 01:19 (Caracas time) the CNE (National Elections Committee) announced that with a total of 97% of the acts already reviewed the "No" had won, it was a very close call though.

The referendum was divided into 2 blocks, 50.7% of voters voted against the first block while 49.29% voted for it. 51.05% of voters voted against the 2nd block while 48.44% voted for it.
There was an absenteeism of 44.11%. For the Spanish speaking out there, go check Globovision for further figures.

The first block included reforms like: Continuous Presidential reelection and presidency period extended to 7 years, the expropriation of goods with a payment to the owner done in parallel to the judicial process (not like before where the judicial process and payment had to be finished before expropriating the goods), increase in Presidential attributions or rights, lost of the autonomy of the BCV (Venezuelan Central Bank), lowering of minimum age to vote to 16 years, and diminishing of daily working hours to 6 hours instead of 8, etc. Further information on the reforms can be found in Spanish in El Nacional.

Venezuela has made history against the "Revolution" and the "Socialism of the XXI century", but Chavez will continue to push his reforms in any way possible. He has until 2013 (when he will have already 14 years of presidency) to do so, therefore everyone asks Venezuelans to be very cautious, it is a great start but it is not the end of it. Some quotes of reactions can be found on BBC.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

29 and Counting / 29 y Contando

English:

29 years ago on November 25th, I was born in Barquisimeto / Venezuela.

Of course, by celebrating the last birthday of the 20s I have been asked several times "How does it feel to be that old?" and well I can say that it does not feel bad AT ALL!!

During these short 29 years of life I have managed to: Graduate from high school and University, lead AIESEC in Barquisimeto, Puerto Rico and Guatemala; I have lived in 6 different countries, travelled through over 30 different countries, I have been blessed with some wonderfull parents and family, I found my "better half", we have a fruit of our love that grows each day faster and who already passed the 2 & 1/2 years; I have worked with 3 companies, 1 International NGO and several small NGOs; I learnt to play "cuatro", mandolin, Balalaica and a bit of guitar; I speak Spanish, English, Russan, French and several Spanish dialects (being the ones from Maracaibo and Guatemala as the hardest to perfect); I have made friends from all the continents; I have tested some of the "delicies" the world has to offer and some other "Not so delightfull" along the way, etc.

Looking at it from that point of view, it has defintely been some fruitfull years, and there are still many more to come with their own challenges and opportunities; many more changes will come and I can only say that I wait anxiously the 30s to come!!


Me and my sisters

Me (A long time ago)



Español:


Hace 29 años una mañana de un 25 de Noviembre en la ciudad de Barquisimeto / Venezuela que este su servidor nació.


Por supuesto al celebrar el último año antes de pasar a los "tas" (o 30) me preguntado constantemente ¿Qué se siente estár tan viejo? Y puedo decir no se siente nada MAL!!


En estos escasos 29 años de vida he logrado graduarme de educación media y Universitaria, liderar AIESEC en Barquisimeto, Puerto Rico y Guatemala; he vivido en 6 países distintos, he viajado por más de 30 países, fui bendecido con unos excelentes padres y familia, encontré mi "media naranja", tenemos un fruto de nuestro amor que crece cada día más rápido y ya pasó los 2 años y medio; he trabajado con 3 empresas, 1 ONG Internacional y diversas ONGs locales; aprendí a tocar cuatro, mandolina, balalaica y un poco de guitarra; hablo Español, Ingles, Ruso, Francés y diversas versiones del español (siendo maracucho y Chapín las más dificiles de perfeccionar); he echo amigos en todos los continentes; he probado algunas delicias que el mundo tiene para ofrecer y muchas otras "no delicias" en el camino, etc.

Viendolo así, definitivamente han sido unos años fructíferos, y todavía faltan muchos más por venir con sus únicos retos y oportunidades; muchos cambios vendran y puedo decir que !espero con ansias que lleguen los "TAS"¡

Monday, August 27, 2007

July 14th in "Le Havre" / 14 de Julio en "Le Havre"

Although a bit late, here's the start of the story of our July's holidays.
We started getting to the city of "Le Havre" on the French Normandy Coast, there we enjoyed this architectural jewel defined by the UNESCO as part of the World Heritage, after being almost completely rebuilt between 1945 and 1964, after being severly damaged during the war.
We also had the chance to see the fireworks in celebration of France's Independence on the bay, it was just the right start to the trip.

Español: Aquí les traigo la historia del comienzo de nuestras vacaciones de Julio. Comenzamos con ir a la ciudad de "Le Havre" en la costa Normanda de Francia. Allí disfrutamos de esta joya arquitectónica que fue definida por la UNESCO como patrimonio de la humanidad, luego de ser casi completamente reconstruida entre 1945 y 1964, luego de ser dañada severamente durante la guerra.
También tuvimos la oportunidad de disfrutar de los fuegos artificiales en celebración del día de la Independencia Francesa, la manera correcta de comenzar nuestro viaje.

Saint-Joseph in Le Havre
Sunset in Le HavreLiberty Square - Le HavreHotel de Ville - Le Havre
Family in Le Havre

14th of July Fireworks in Le Havre

14th of July Fireworks in Le Havre

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Summer's Here / El Verano Llego

So Summer has arrived and we managed to get at least a sunny sunday and spend some time in the park, but I have to say that so far it has been a unusual summer, with a lot of rain and cold days.
Anyways here are a couple of updated pictures of Daniela and Perla Roling on the park hills.
Have a great week.

El verano llegó y por lo menos logramos tener un domingo soleado y pasar un poco de tiempo en el parque disfrutando del día. Tengo que decir que ha sido un verano fuera lo normal, con mucha lluvia y días frios, pero bueno ¿Qué se le puede hacer?
Pero bueno aquí tienen a Perla y Daniela en el Parque haciendo la "Vuelta Canela" y Daniela sola.
Que pases una muy buena semana.
Daniela en el ParqueRolling in the Park / Rueda Canela

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Auctioning a Bike on eBay

So the summer is here and people are looking for ways to enjoy it while it lasts. So it is time for me to sell my brand new Alpha Aluminum, US Version, Trek 1500 bike, which I brought from the US to Europe.
It's brand new and I am auctioning it for a very good price: Start bid at € 950 against € 1,350 that a comparable one would cost in Belgium.
So if you know of anyone that might be interested in buying it please forward them to http://cgi.befr.ebay.be/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=150136216704&ssPageName=ADME:L:LCA:BEFR:11

I will transport it if needed inside Belgium for free, if it needs to be sent to another country inside the European Union I can do that too for a very good price, it's negotiable.
If you or your friend are interested in settling the business out of eBay and negotiate the price that we can also do.

The information in eBay is in French, although I can provide it in English, Spanish and even Dutch (although I will not be able to answer your questions in Dutch). I can always be contact through the blog or eBay website.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Algunas fotos mas de los campos floreados de Holanda


Aquí algunas fotos más para complementar las puestas anteriormente del campo de flores en Holanda.

Tuvimos un excelente día con un clima cálido y soleado increible para esta época del año que por supuesto aprovechamos para tomar muchísimas fotos.

De verdad una zona que vale la pena visitar especialmente en esta época del año cuando todo está floreado y colorido. Este campo en especial estaba cerca de la ciudad de Sasenheim entre Roterdam y Amsterdam.

Perla & Daniela in Tulips
Rose TulipsTulips FieldTulips Field

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

When shit hits the fan...

YOU DUCK!!
 
At least that what they say in the US, but let's be realistic, if you ever use the expression is because it was too late for you to react, right?
 
Now I better get back to doing damage control!!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Flower fields in the Netherlands

So following the suggestions from family and friends we went to the Netherlands to check their famous Flower Fields now that Spring is fully here.
We drove off the highways to go through the small streets in the Netherlands and passed by the towns of Leiden, Katwijk, Nordwijk, Sasseheim to end up in Keukenhof, a floral park that deserves a posting on his own. You can check the area in Google Maps.
We enjoyed the beautiful landscapes, small towns, windmills in the roads and people just cycling around, and close to Sasenheim found some fields full of flowers were most of these pictures were taken (with the exception of the Rose and last tulips)

It's definitely worth it to go to the Netherlands at this time to enjoy the scenery!!

Tulips Fields

Tulips Fields

Perla and Daniela in the Tulips FieldFlowers Field

Tulip close-up

Tulips close to our placeRose

Fotos actualizadas de Daniela

Bueno para aquellos lectores hispanohablantes (amigos y familia en Latino América especialmente) aquí están unas fotos actualizadas de Daniela que fueron tomadas en el Parque cerca de nuestra casa.
Que las disfruten.

Daniela in the ParkDaniela in the ParkDaniela in the Park

Namur, Belgium

Starting the update on places visited in the last 2 months I'll start with Namur (Or Namen in Dutch).
Namur it's a town in the southern part of Belgium (you can check it's location in Google Maps), it started as a celtic trading settlement, then was an important Roman post, then it developed as it's own county.
It was cut in half as the northern part of the River Meuse belonged to the Counts of Namur and the other side belonged to the Bishops of Liege. It felt to the hands of the Count of Flanders in 1262 and was purchased by Burgundy in 1421.
It was part of the Spanish-Netherlands in the 1640s, and was invaded by the French in 1692. After that it was owned by the Dutch, Austrians, France once again and finally what is now Belgium.
Each of these changes left its marks on the city and it's definitely worth a while to go and pay a visit to it if you are in town. Here are some pictures of the citadel and city.

Namur's CitadelNamur's Downtown
Namur's DowntownNamur's River

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

2 Years old already, time really flies fast

Although a bit belated, this is a congratulations to my little "angel" for her 2nd Birthday, which was back in April 21st.
In order to be able to see how much she has changed (grew) I made this small contact sheets with pictures of her, one per each month since birth. It's truly amazing how much they change in a such a short time.
Ana: I owed you a picture update on Daniela, so although a bit late, here it is

Este fue un pequeño arreglo que hice para celebrar el 2do cumpleaños de Daniela, en él se puede ver una foto por cada mes de vida que tiene, comenzando con Abril 2005. De derecha a Izquierda y de arriba a abajo.
Es increible que tan rapido cambian (crecen) ¿no?

Daniela - 25 Months of Life

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Nairobi National Park

The Nairobi National Park gives the opportunity to see a part of the Kenyan wildlife not too far away from Nairobi. They are running free in the park, you might be lucky and see the big 5 Lion, Leopard, Hypo, Rhino, Elephant (although there are no Elephants in the Nairobi area), but it all depends on time, luck and your ability to see them.
For sure it's worth a visit but I heard from my guide that the best time is in August as it's the middle of the migration and the National Park is full of animals and wildlife. It's a 42 Square Miles park that is about 15 min drive from Nairobi's center, it also has the Burning site where President Moi Burned all the Ivory and Skins that were gathered by the police in an effort to stop the unnecessary killings of Wild Animals.
I was lucky enough to see some Lions in the shade, Giraffes, Monkeys, Zebras, Gazelles, Rhino (very far away) and Ostriches; it was definitely a good trip.

Nairobi National Park
Extension of the ParkNairobi is really close!!Giraffe in the Park
Burning SiteLions hiding in the shadeGiraffe
Gazelle's in the wayMonkey in the grassMonkey close up
Birds on top of a treeClose up of birds

Monday, April 16, 2007

Carnivore - The Restaurant in Nairobi

While in Kenya you have to try the Carnivore restaurant, originally you could get all types of game meat (antelope, gazelle, zebra, etc.) and normal meat; but since the government has put a ban on game meat you can only get 2 "exotic" meats: Alligator and Ostrich. Anyways where else would you try that?
From the alligator they cook only the tail and it tastes similar to fish, and the Ostrich was made in meatballs with quite nice seasoning and really good I must say.
The rest of the meats were very good, well cooked and it was quite nice environment, it reminded me a lot of AIESEC's ICs with all the restaurant's staff singing "Jambo" to the ones celebrating their birthdays, just like the Kenyan delegations always!!

Definitely worth a visit, although I was told that "Pampas" restaurant has better meat, but no "exotic" ones

Carnivore
CarnivoreCarnivore - Some Chicken, beef, sausages and Potatoes
Carnivore - Some Chicken, beef, sausages and PotatoesCarnivore

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Kenya a really interesting country

So my trip to Kenya has ended and I came back with an interesting mix of different views, facts, pictures, etc. from there which I will try to share as much as possible.

Fist some General information of Kenya taken from CIA World Fact Book:
Location: East Africa bordering Indian Ocean and between Ethiopia, Uganda, Somalia and Tanzania
Area: 582,650 sq km (about 64% of Venezuela's size and 19 times Belgium's size)
Population: Approx. 35 Million (Compared to 26 Mill. in VE and 10 Mill. in BE)
Life Expectancy at birth: 48.93 Years (compared to 74.54 at Venezuela and 78.77 in BE)
Languages: Kiswahili and English as official
Currency: Kenyan Shilling - KES (Exchange Rate 1 EUR = 91.5 KES)
GDP per Capita: USD 1200 (USD 6900 in VE and USD 31.800 in Belgium)

Capital: Nairobi (Population Approx. 4 Millions)

Some Other interesting facts about Kenya:
  • Was a British Colony up to 1963 when it was declared independent, the independence movement was led by Jomo Kenyatta who became Kenya's first president until his death in 1978
  • After that president MOI took power and ruled for 24 years until he stepped down in 2002 ( 24 YEARS!!! That's Chavez dream). From that time most of the people I talked to said that money was taken from the Country into his and his close people's pockets
  • Since then president Mwai Kibaki has been ruling, most of the impressions I heard of him are positive, although there's still a long road ahead of Kenya for development
  • They will have elections this year, and the impressions I received was that the current president will not be reelected as results have not been as quick as expected in the Country's economy
  • There are about 24 different Ethnic groups in the country
  • It's famous for it's wildlife, Mt. Kenya (with its 5199 mts), it's tribes and the Masai Mara Natural reserve

From a personal perspective of the short time I was there I can say that:

  • The people are very friendly, outgoing, like to party a lot, enjoy going out and having fun. They are very proud of Kenya and being Kenyan, although they realize the challenges they face.
  • Even if the impression I had initially is that it is really dangerous and unsafe, there was a lot of people walking on the street up to 10-11pm. So my impression is that you should be careful not to go out with expensive clothes, watch, camera, etc. and not to enter certain areas, for the rest it's OK.
  • There's a big gap between rich and poor (as on the street you can still see BMW MIII, Toyota Prado, etc. and people without even shoes)
  • Their Handcrafts are amazing, specially the sculptures made out of ebony, soapstone and other types of wood
  • Public transport is heavily used and semi organized. I could see very long lines of people waiting for the buses next to the hotel at the bus stop, but they were queuing in an organized manner (something you don't see that much in Venezuela)
  • They could benefit a lot more from Tourism but insecurity is the major concern for travellers
  • There's a big Indian Population in Nairobi (but more of that in next posting)

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Energia, Pasion, Motivacion, Entusiasmo, Aventura

Dentro de pocos minutos abordare mi avion hacia Nairobi y por primera vez visitare Africa o "Sub Saharan Africa", ya que estoy seguro que Marruecos y Egipto a pesar de estar en el mismo continente tienen realidades muy, muy distintas.
Esa aventura de descubrir un nuevo país y cultura me provoca incertidumbre y a la vez ese entusiasmo que se siente al lanzarte al agua, al vivir una nueva experiencia, pero como toda experiencia nueva trae consigo ese poquito de miedo y preocupacion.
Sin importar lo que pase en Kenya, estoy seguro de que este viaje me traera retos que no imagino todavia, pero ver de cerca una parte de la realidad de otro pais en "Vias de Desarrollo" me acercara de nuevo a mis raices Latino Americanas; y a pesar de los retos regresare con una sonrisa en la cara, mas pasión y energia por mi trabajo y este continente que conocere mas y mas durante este año.
Que viva la aventura y el descubrir, porque ellas te mantienen vivo y energizado!!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Update on Perla

So I know I am one of he first persons that complains about how much my paycheck is diminished each month with taxes and social security, but I must agree that the system works and works quite well.
Perla (my wife) got injured when walking from French Classes to school; we went to our normal doctor who checked her for € 27, then she recommended to get an X Ray in a clinique and get that checked. So we went, got the X Ray, reviewed by the Doctors, they called our Family Doctor and agreed to get her to Emergency and get a Cast (Plaster or POP) on her leg.

For that initial visit to the Clinique we paid € 0 NOTHING!! Yesterday we went back to check on her leg, they took the Cast out, checked her ankle, agreed not to put a 2nd one but gave her a special ankle support and instructions to go to Kynestherapy, in total € 54 and they will pay back to us 75% of it, so I must say:

The Health system WORKS!! I am not complaining about it anymore

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The new car already

So after a couple of weeks of waiting here it is finally, the much awaited car, a Gray Volkswagen Passat TDi, it's 1 year and a half and 57,000 km old, so quite new.

I have to admit that it feels very big after getting used to the Seat Leon, but it's a really nice car, it's Diesel, it has good power and it has a very comfortable inside.

I am extremely happy, but it only has 1 bad thing, it's previous owner was a smoker, so it does need a full bottle of febreeze before being ready!!

Passat Trunk
Passat FrontPassat Rear