Santa Bárbara

It’s 6:30 PM, and it’s already pitch dark in Maracaibo, courtesy of Hugo Chávez’s tantrum that led to a change in the time zone a few years back. I’m having dinner with an old high school friend at the shore of the lake. The warm, humid July breeze brings with it a mixture of dust and nostalgia. We’re…

Begging for cocoa

“Pidiendo cacao” – literally, begging for cocoa – is Venezuelan slang for “asking for a freebie.” You know who’s “begging for cocoa” in a literal, not figurative sense? World markets, that’s who. The quality of Venezuela’s cocoa is legendary. Cocoa plants all over the world have been cross-bred to make them resistant to plagues, but…