I lived in Ciudad Ojeda for two school years. That is the longest I’ve lived anywhere for a while. Before Ojeda, I was either in college or grad school (and thus relocating based on roommate situations every year or so), or in a place that wasn’t the right fit for me. Surprisingly this place quickly began feeling like home.
When I first heard Escuela Las Morochas was in Ciudad Ojeda I freaked a little! My Director sold me on the place when she said that there wasn’t much to do other than salsa dance (Cuban style!) and improve your Spanish. Thankfully those are two things I really enjoy doing!
On the surface it doesn’t really sound like an ideal location:
- No public transit
- Not much in the way of cultural activities (there wasn’t even a mall with a cinema while I was there)
- Bordered by a very polluted lake (Lake Maracaibo) that I couldn’t swim in
- The nearest big city where I could find good restaurants, shopping, movies, and nightlife was an hour away
- The beach was a seven hour drive away
However, now that I have been gone for a few months I’m realizing that there are quite a few things I miss about Ojeda:
- My amazing friends that I met while I was there
- While the nightlife is nearly non-existent, my friends were always willing to come dance at my house or ready to throw a dance party in their backyards
- My salsa academy was only a short drive from my house in a neighborhood where I felt safe
- I never felt unsafe
- Due to the lack of other activities it was really easy for me to make time for the gym or just working out in my house.
- The terrific sense of community I felt with the students and parents at the school I taught at
- The classes of 8-12 students
- Xocol Art- brownies, frapuccinos, parchita bon bons, and the great people who work there
- El Rey de Schawarma- the workers knew me by name and made the best schawarma, dolma, and falaffels
- My HUGE house with plenty of space to dance in and my KING size bed
- Even though they are clunkers, I miss the little red Yaris that the school let me drive for two years for free (other than insurance)
So if you are thinking of teaching in Venezuela I would consider teaching in Ciudad Ojeda if I were you!