Dear Reader, We Have to Talk: In which I admonish you for your lowbrow taste, and discuss bad luck and baseball

Thanksgiving dinner concert of traditional Venezuelan music.
I faked my way through the evening on mandolin.

Before I get to the news (floods, school closures, absurd amounts of food), I’d like to follow up on a couple things from my last few posts.

First, this blog shows me a fancy chart displaying trends for the week, like what countries readers are from, which search terms they used on google to find me, which posts are more or less popular. I was shocked–shocked!–to see that there was a big drop in readership from my post titled “Beisbol, Boobs, Beer,” to my last post about uncharismatic zoo animals and geriatric public dancing. And because this is a (mostly) family-friendly place, I won’t share the search terms that led back here, except to say that you’d be amazed by how many people are googling for that exact sports/anatomy/beverage combination, plus maybe a few other things in the mix.

Next, a related note: Christmas season is in full Latin American effect. Last weekend, I went for a walk on the Sabana Grande, a long pedestrian mall about which a helpful (and accurate!) online reviewer says “It is very busy and there are a lots of stors to do shapping and a lots of beutiful girls always walking arounds.” Every few blocks, a Santa sat on a tinsel-draped box and heard petitions from young kids. His helpers, no innocent elves, seemed to have come straight from the baseball game: these young ladies were all bare midriffs and blonde-streaked hair, glossy breasts looming over velvet green bustiers. It was a very naughty Christmas. (Hello, google searchers. Yes, I wrote “very naughty Christmas,” and no, I don’t have pictures of topless elves or Mrs. Claus in a corset.)

The corner-lot pine trees I wrote about last time are, it turns out, fabulously expensive. A Charlie Brown tree can go for about $180.00, the taller ones for much more. I asked some people here at school where the trees come from, and everyone agreed that it was Canada. Can that be? Does it make any sense at all? Someone who knows about international shipping, containers, trees–please advise.

Baseball, part two: according to my Venezuelan pal Agustin, there’s a cultural tradition here called pava, which is something like a combination of the old-world Evil Eye and plain ‘ol bad luck. Sailors and people who grew up near the sea, for instance, believe that shells out of water have pava; you would never decorate your house with them! Likewise, some people can be pavoso, bringing bad luck wherever they go. The president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, is widely understood to have a perversely pavoso relationship with the Navegantes de Magallanes, the working-class baseball team I wrote about. He’s a vocal fan, a Magallanero, which puts him at odds with the elite establishment here in Caracas, all Leones followers.

When Chavez is doing well–good numbers, some public successes–the team sinks to the bottom of the standings. And when he’s weak, sick, or otherwise in decline, the Navegantes come steaming back. These days, Magallanes is self-destructing with bad pitching and weak defense. Right on cue, Chavez is having a good month: he hosted a big political summit (everyone in the western hemisphere was invited, minus the US and Canada) and claims perfect health despite his recent bouts with chemotherapy. A lot of the people I know here are hoping for some more pava magic, and would love to see a few Magallanes victories, soon. (My apologies to Agustin if I got this all wrong; it’s hard enough to understand another culture, and even harder when you throw baseball and politics into the stew.)

Okay, that’s quite a bit of followup, and very little news. How about if I save that for next time? I do want to tell you about the floods, the rivers of sewage, the falling-apart freeways and tumbling shantytowns that kept school closed for the last three days. Also, some words about the great Christmas food here–pan de jamon, hallacas, pernil. And maybe something about the suburban apartment towers constructed without any interior plumbing, so now all the pipes run down the outside of the building. True story. There’s a lot to share, very little of it related to women’s breasts, though I know how much you’d like that. I’ll get back to you soon.

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