Caracas, Venezuela — Friday, December 30th

Back to Venezuela

Today Sripad Janardan Maharaj and I fly to Caracas, Venezuela, at the invitation of Purujit Prabhu and Amita-Shakti Devi Dasi, where we will spend the next eighteen days in the association of the devotees at the Parama Karuna Sri Sri Nitai Gaurachandra temple.

The last time I was in South America was almost fourteen months ago, when I traveled with Srila Gurudeva's entourage when His Divine Grace blessed the devotees of that country during his 21st World Tour. We stayed in Caracas for just ten days then, so I am looking forward to meeting the devotees again and spending more time with them.

Venezuela is four hours ahead of California, so this is twenty-hour day for us. We leave the Seva Ashram in Soquel at five o' clock, while it is still dark, and fly for ten hours, from San Francisco to Houston, Texas, then from one continent to the other, across the Gulf of Mexico and over the Caribbean Sea, to land after dark in Caracas, at 10:45 p.m.

We are met at the airport (with garlands and kirtan!) by Purujit Prabhu, Antyarjami Prabhu, Gaurachandra Prabhu, Nimai Chandra Prabhu, and many, many other devotees. We then drive for about twenty minutes up to the temple, where we are given prasadam before retiring for the night. It's good to be back here!

Caracas, Venezuela — Saturday, December 31st

New Year's eve

In Venezuela the old year goes out with a bang! Firecrackers go off all afternoon and evening, and some of the explosions are so loud that they set off car alarms! By midnight the explosions are deafening, and fireworks light up the night sky.

I haven't heard this many firecrackers exploding since the days of my youth in South Africa, where, during the month of November, we used to celebrate Guy Fawkes Day (even though our family was Catholic!) and the Hindus used to celebrate Diwali, before fireworks were eventually banned.

Apparently, the Venezuelan government has tried to ban fireworks here too, because accidents are common in the holiday season when sales of mainly imported cheap pyrotechnics for the Christmas and New Year celebrations skyrocket.

According to a Tuesday report on Yahoo, "Fireworks caused forty-three fires in the metropolitan area of Venezuela's capital, Caracas, on Christmas night."

But that's outside. Inside, in the relative quiet of the Sri Chaitanya Sridhar Govinda Seva Ashram, Sripad Janardan Maharaj and I speak about the glories of Srila Gurudeva's mission here in Venezuela...

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Layout by iMonk — December 31st, 2005.