Venezuelan Stadiums, fields…and roads!
Over the past few days we Took a look at a few ballparks in Venezuela . Caracas, Barquisimeto, Maracay and Valencia. Kind of ran out of time to see the others so a return in the near future is planned. I was in Venezuela in 2005 and once before that in 2001 for the Houston Astros vs., Cleveland Indians Exhibition match which was held in Valencia. It’s great to see that since those visits, the fields have continually improved.
Caracas has a stadium that is home to a couple clubs. The Aguilles and the lenoes. The Leones is the team Armando Gallaraga plays for during the winter. Quite a few stories about the almost no – hitter still floating around. A 20000 seat park located in the center of the city, Caracas is a unique park because of it amount of use.
Valencia is home to the Magallanes Baseball club. It’s about a two hour drive from Caracas (pending traffic) I say that because the traffic returning to Caracas to catch our flight was crazy! Raining heavily even saw a mud slide(on our side fo the road) as the region is pretty mountainous. It took us over 4 hours that last night to get back to Caracas. Driving the roads in Venezuela is similar to the DR except your driving on mountain roads with 100″s of trucks. We saw numerous accidents on the road between Caracas and Valencia. Need to thank Jimmy /Mario Andretti who did most of the driving. He knew the roads pretty well so watching him zoom past Police cars, speed, etc…was pretty much the required method to get around. Also Hearing the weekly President Hugo Chavez radio address was interesting as it took up about 4 hours of time on the road ..ironically blocking out any type of emergency message about the mud slide so traffic continued to clog. However the silver lining to the roads is the price of gas. We filled the tank to our Chevy for 78 cents! Not bad for 15 gallons of fuel. (And we didn’t even have to pump it!)
We actually drove from Caracas to Barquisimeto which ended up being about 5 hours. Nice stadium with a pretty good level of Bermuda grass. Our traveling party included MLB’s Joel Aryjo, Jimmy and Armin who is the local RSA for MLB. There’s a new Hilton/Embassy suites hotel being built in Valencia which will be nice when the finish it. When we arrived it was dark in the hotel and the reason was not that it was not completed…it was because Presidente Chavez requires mandatory power reductions for all businesses. Glad I had my flashlight!