Baseball in Venezuela is more than a Sport
Traveling to Venezuela has always been one of those interesting events. Never the same and always seeing things I probably wouldn’t have anywhere else in the world. The people in this country have a passion for baseball and team rivalry is clearly defined. On this trip I had to check out ballparks in Maracaibo, Puerto la Cruz and Margarita Island and instead of driving I flew with Jimmy M, Alvaro S. who is MLB’s RSA in Venezuela. As former Interpol chief of the island he knows practically everyone in the country and if he doesn’t, he will soon know you because he has a wonderful gift of being kind. Nevertheless the ballparks varied in need of work and improvements. In Maracaibo the stadium is old and needs some TLC. They have only 6 weeks before winter league play. Margarita Island was pretty cool. Reminded me of Barcelona. Neat ballpark with some upgrades since they recently hosted the 2009 Caribbean World Series. Final stop was Puerto La Cruz which was completely under construction. They are installing the first synthetic turf on the island and upgrading the façade of the park. http://www.caribesbbc.com.ve/
At each airport we had to pay a exit tax. Normally something like 5 bucks. Not a big deal but always after you pay for the ticket. On the day I left from Caracas to head home I was approached by a Venezuelan policeman who asked if I needed some help. I stated no I was just going to pay my exit tax. He stated he would handle it since they only take Bolivars and I could just pay him the 50 bucks. That’s when a red light went off because last time I paid the exit tax in cascaras it was 38 dollars and they took US
currency. I kindly declined the officer’s scam. Interesting city Caracas. Unfortunately it just topped the charts as the city with eh Worlds Highest Murder rate. 7676 in 2009. That’s about 1 murder every hour and half. I can say that I was around the people in all of the cities and never felt like I was in danger. Of course I did have Alvaro with me! Chad Olsen spent the week in Mexico so I am sure he has a story or two. Heading to Europe next week. Probably a little less crazy…Hard to believe that there are only 6 weeks before the winter league starts.