|In a similar way to Joe Parfitt's gift of being able to identify the qualities of famous people in ordinary folk, we have been unable to avoid recognising traits of you lot in the various people we have met. Already we have encountered a Lindalike, a Gainalike and a British Airways pilot who was so much like Del that Dave kept getting his name wrong. I was quite taken aback however when I came face to face with the Australian identikits of my parents.
Jim and Coral are in their 60's and have been living in Caracas since January. Although supposedly retired, they have been working as the Latin American correspondents for an independent Australian newspaper ¨GreenLeft¨ (www.greenleft.org.au), closely following what they believe to be ¨history in the making¨ in Venezuela.
Ok, so they're a couple of ageing socialists. How does that make them like my mum and dad?
When we first met them on the morning of our Angel Falls tour they were both wearing their ¨I'm one of the 10 million¨ Chavez supporter t-shirts (Jim was also sporting a Che Guevara cap). They told us that they had chosen to live in one of the poorest neighbourhoods of Caracas (admittedly somewhat rougher than Tolladine) in order to be ¨closer to the people¨. When they do eat out, Jim always chooses the empty restaurant rather than the full, popular one as he feels sorry for the owner. I told him that my dad would do the same and would probably leave after having bought a 50% share in the business! They were a brilliant couple to spend three days in the middle of nowhere with. We spent the afternoons sheltering from the torrential rain, swinging in our hammocks (which we also spent all night in), discussing politics, travel and listening to Jim give us renditions of Monty Python, Hancock's Half Hour and The Goon Show sketches.
Angel Falls itself was as spectacular as the landscape in which it is set. The three day boat ride gave us loads of time to enjoy the amazing views of the tepues towering over us (the only place in the world that they exist).
By the end of the trip we were well and truely ready to treat ourselves to a couple of days on the paradise islands of Los Roques which boasts some of the best beaches in the world. We almost didn't make it there however as a very thorough customs officer found it impossible to believe that a man (D) would be carrying a box of cornflour in his rucksac. He had obviously never been anywhere near a kitchen before let alone any cooking ingredients and so he and his mates spent a long time dipping their fingers into the fine white powder, sniffing and finally tasting the substance as though it had been freshly smuggled over the Columbian border. Eventually, it took the check in desk lady less than a minute to read the packet and explain what it was really for. They looked at each other, looked very disapprovingly at D and then ushered us off in the direction of our very tiny plane.