A Japanese tourist who recently visited Venezuela told of the good experiences he lived in the country and how he enjoyed his stay, where he was able to tour the country and assess the current situation.
Interviewed by British BBC Mundo, Koichiro Sawada, a Japanese native of Tokyo, highlighted the warmth, joy and solidarity of Venezuelans, as well as its beautiful and varied tourist sites and the taste of its traditional food.
Sawada said he had wanted to visit Roraima for at least three years, but his friends told him that he was crazy if he went to Venezuela, due to the media discrediting campaign against the South American country.
“Everybody told me ‘don’t go, are you crazy?’ but I had a great time (…) For three years I dreamed of going to Roraima,” said Sawada who says that since 2016 he began to dream of traveling to Venezuela after seeing photos of Mount Roraima.
“I got a picture of Mount Roraima and I was speechless. Then, I simply said to myself: I have to go,” said Sawada about a day that he was browsing photos of South America in his Tokyo apartment.
It is an economic destination
Sawada says that one of the advantages he also saw of Venezuela is that it is a fairly economical destination with a lot of natural beauty.
“I have been traveling throughout Venezuela for a month, and I plan to stay another month. I take the time to practice my Spanish, going to classes to learn to dance salsa and bachata, and I also enrolled in an English course. They are activities that cost me nothing financially, I have fun doing them and they are also a contribution to my personal development,” he says.
“It is a very inexpensive destination and I also wanted to see with my own eyes what is really happening in Venezuela,” adds Sawada who also visited the Venezuelan beaches and Andes.
“Chuao, a beach on the central coast of the country, is a good example. It is definitely an earthly paradise and as there are very few tourists, it felt almost like a private beach (-) Honestly, the country is more beautiful than I expected; It’s a shame that almost no one comes,” explains Sawada, 25.
Cachapas, friends and return
“I was surprised at how good the food is: I liked the arepas, but I prefer the cachapas. It is my favorite dish! I like them with hand cheese (queso de mano), a type of local cheese that melts in your mouth.”
For Sawada, the best thing about the country is its people, because they are not only friendly but also very amicable.
“It’s amazing how Venezuelans, despite the times they live , are so cheerful and love to share. They always give me food,” says Sawada, laughing, adding that it is a country of “warm and friendly” people.
Mérida is Sawada’s last stop before he crosses the border with Colombia, where he will continue exploring South America. When asked if he would return, he does not think twice:
“I made many friends in Mérida: here I feel at home.”
Translated by JRE/EF