Friends in Venezuela


Venezuela, or “Little Venice,” was named nearly 500 years ago when Spanish explorers discovered an Indian village built on stilts over Lake Maracaibo. The village reminded them of Venice, Italy, where the streets are canals, and soon the name was applied to the whole country.

Venezuela is a land of many waters. Rivers run through all parts of the country. El Salto Angel, the largest waterfall in the world, is located in Venezuela.

Caracas is the capital and largest city in Venezuela. It is located near Mt. Avila.

On this page are pictures some friends in Venezuela have drawn of a teleferico (cable car). The teleferico travels from Caracas up the mountain and back down to the city on the shore. An even longer teleferico travels eight miles up the snow-covered Andes Mountains in the western part of the country.

Venezuela includes over seventy islands, the largest being Margarita. Beds of pearl oysters lie off the coast of Margarita, which may have been why Spanish pirates used this island for a port.

Children in Venezuela begin school when they are five years old, and in many schools students wear uniforms. Vacations come often during the year for holiday celebrations, as well as a two-month summer vacation.

One of the holidays that they celebrate in February is called the Carnaval. During this celebration no one escapes the water fights that are part of the festivities. Parades, dancing in the streets, selection of a Carnaval queen, and many other activities fill this week of holiday.

People of many different nationalities live in Venezuela, but they all join together each year on July 5 to celebrate the independence of their country.

Beautiful flowers grow throughout Venezuela and are an important part of all holidays. Statues of Simon Bolívar, a national hero (see “Prince Bolívar” in the Friend, Oct. 1971) stand in nearly every city, and on these special days they are decorated with wreaths of flowers.

Baseball and soccer are favorite games of children in Venezuela, who also enjoy playing La Loca or El Escondido, which is Hide-and-Seek in English. Although English is taught in the schools, most lessons and conversations are in Spanish.

A favorite food in Venezuela is the arepa. Arepas look like fat pancakes made from white corn flour. When both sides have been browned on a flat grill, they are sliced open and the dough is scraped out. Butter or meat and cheese are put in the hot arepas and they are ready to eat. Another common food in Venezuela is casabe. It is eaten with soup, as bread or crackers might be, but is made from a white root that grows in warm climates.

In 1966 when Marion G. Romney dedicated this country for missionary work, elders from the Central American Mission took the gospel to Venezuela. It now has a mission of its own with many branches.

Pictures of some of our friends in Venezuela and drawings they have sent are included in this magazine.