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Sunday, December 1, 2002
"So We Were Driving Through the Jungle, and We Found This Karaoke Bar…"

We loaded up the car and were once again off to see how far we could drive towards the coast before finding a place for the night. It seemed like Curt was always having his turn at the wheel when it came time to find a posada. We pushed our luck ("again"), and ended up in the no man's land trying to find a spot. We did find one, but it was downright sketchy. Four enormous fortress walls surrounded a large parking lot. To get in, you had to pass through a gate raised by the hotel "receptionist". There were some apartments in here too, and they all had garages below. The hotel room was clean enough, but the whole arrangement seemed creepy. We had to pay in advance, and none of us felt safe leaving the "complex" to find something to eat. So we put Curt behind the wheel again, and kept going.

We were speeding along, probably faster than we should- but you could tell Curt's patience was running low. Matter of fact, I'm sure all of ours was. We had taken a different route back, and found we were climbing back up into the rainforest. As we careened along, we all scanned the signs for a posada, but as hopeful as I may have seemed- I didn't think we had a snowball's chance. The landscape was getting more jungle like and it felt like we were leaving civilization- not nearing it. Just as I was thinking these dire thoughts, I saw a wall painted with the word "posada." It was a really nice looking house with a gated drive. It had a Mediterranean look, with little seats on the porch out front. We quickly pulled over and tried to find it in Pam's posada book. Before we got very far- the owner came striding out, waving us in to his driveway! He was smiling broadly. In my broken Spanish I was trying to understand how much it was, and if they had room for us. He was brimming with vitality, arms waving, big smile, and rattling off a mile a minute. I barely understood a word- but I got as much as the rate and he shuffled us into some rooms, so I assumed we could stay. His wife didn't look so happy to see us. When I tried to inquire if we could find someplace to eat, I understood somehow they had chicken for us as she was asking how many we wanted. I thought she meant breasts, but Curt wised me up- she meant the whole chicken! Was she going out back to kill one or something? We dropped our bags off, and then the four of us excused ourselves to buy a few beers at an odd little cinderblock building next door that seemed to be a bar.

We walked carefully down the dark road hoping not to get hit. As we approached, bright light beamed out from the openings in the walls that were sort of windows without the glass. From the inside, some very peculiar music poured out- really loudly. We walked in, and it was like the needle skipped off the record. A woman was singing on a karaoke machine to the owner of our posada while he sat there in a chair. He stood up with a smile and shouted greeting when he saw us and the Karaoke Lady turned and welcomed us too! They guided us to a seat and seemed to laugh that we had showed up. Beers were on the table before we knew it. I took my time assessing the lay of the land since we couldn't talk above the screaming karaoke. This was really wild. How I wished I had my camera, though I don't know how I could have tactfully taken a photo. Never in my life will I ever forget that night.

A second woman appeared from behind a doorway, and clapped her hands to see we were here. She looked a bit like the toothless woman in Los Nevados, and had just as much enthusiasm. I thought she might just hug us for a minute. She brought us our dinner then. While we ate and watched the karaoke show that now seemed to be just for us, more people started to appear. They would peak from behind the door, look around hesitatingly before entering and stood around looking slightly uncomfortable. It didn't take long before there were perhaps a dozen locals there now, and they started to dance to the karaoke singer. She was cute as a button and seemed to favor Selena's music- asking if we knew it? The dancers seemed to have favorite partners, and one couple was by far the star. One particular girl of I'd say about twenty seemed to be trying to burn me down with her stare. I thought I must be paranoid, but Pam said she saw it too- the girl looked like she was going to jump right over out table and scratch my eyes out. So I avoided her stares as best I could and smiled while I watched the other couples dance.

Another gentleman took the microphone from Karaoke Lady and began a twenty minute speech in Spanish that none of us understood much of. But again, it seemed to be directed at us since he was staring at us the whole time he talked and ignored anyone else there. Curt seemed to catch a lot of stuff about friends from far away, new friends? Something like that. I was concentrating more on acting like I didn't notice the girl wanting to kick my butt.

I was totally enchanted by the whole thing! Everyone else seemed absolutely beat, but I really was getting a kick out it. I just couldn't believe that we had been driving through a Venezuelan jungle with no sign of life to find the posada with its beaming owner, and then end up here in this little bar to watch karaoke and have a speech (apparently) directed just at us. I would have never in a million years thought this would be something that would happen to me.

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