I woke up in my small room, got up, and looked out over the valley. The early morning sun gave everything facing east a rosy glow. The out my window I saw a breathtakingly beautiful pattern of greenery on hills of red and gold, with dark, shadowed valleys. Breakfast was so good that I thought the price per day would have been worth it for the food alone (by USA standards; it would do for at least two meals in Venezuela.)
After breakfast, the eleven of us sat around and decided what to do with the day. Several of the parents wanted to hike to explore the area. I would have gladly gone on a riding tour, but it turned out that the only animals they had around there for hire were mules. I had no desire to go up and down all those hills on foot or on mule, and the other kids decided to stay behind as well. Some of the parents did, so we spent the day exploring the village, playing games, and relaxing.
There was actually a lot more to Los Nevados than met the eye at first. The village actually sprawled out over the hills enough that it actually took five to ten minutes of walking up windy, dusty roads to reach some parts of it. The part that impressed me the most was the sports court where perhaps fifteen kids of various ages were playing soccer. To build it, they had first constructed a wall around the downhill side of the area they wanted to use. The wall was of large heavy rocks, and very nicely built. After the wall was done, they had dug down the other side and used the dirt to fill the downhill wall. I do not actually know all that they had to do; I got all this from examining their work, not interviewing the workers, but it was a good job anyhow. The field was very level, there was a sturdy wire fence of perhaps ten feet tall with a gate so the ball would not go flying away, and the uphill side of the area was almost a perfect natural observation point, being about fifteen feet above the field.
We ate leftover lunch from the day before, and then spent the rest of the day taking it easy, talking, laughing, ready, etc. When those adults who had gone on the exploratory hike returned, we talked about our plans. The family from Dream Catcher needed to be back in Mérida by the next evening, so they decided to take the rather harrowing Jeep ride the next day. The rest of us also wanted to go back, but were not too keen on the idea of a hot, dusty, uncomfortable Jeep on steep and winding dirt roads. Although we could not get horses to ride, there were some mules available that were much nicer than the ones we had taken from the Teleférico (the path was also much easier.) Since the alternative was walking and the animals were not very expensive, we decided to take them.
We had another wonderful dinner that night, and enjoyed what would be our last time with the family on Dream Catcher for several days. Their Spanish lessons would take a week or so, and we were not planning to spend that long inland. Eventually we packed up all our stuff and went to bed, knowing that the next day would be a long one.
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