The Naiguata Peak goes beyond what is visible to the eye
Like almost all Venezuelans I’m an “Avila” fan, the mountain that gives oxygen to our capital. A massive mount embedded in one of the most violent cities in the world, which has become our natural and spiritual lung. I used to watch it from my window and also admired it from the traffic jam, but today I am going to tell you another story. An experience submerged in the vegetation of this mountain, nowadays known as the “Waraira Repano”
From a delighted invitation of @cafenaiguata through Instagram, I was added to this travel group, consisting of leaders and keepers that dedicate all their weekends to share their passion for the mountain. In the “Avila” there are several routes; some of them can be shortened by using the cable car that goes from the city to the “Humboldt”. In this case my journey was about reaching the highest point of the coastal mountain range, “Pico Naiguatá”.
Our adventure began in the concrete jungle of Caracas where we met: the guides and beginners. From El Marquez we climbed by foot, along a route called “La Julia”. From there, we started hiking uphill at 7 pm, on a fantastic route full of stones, mud, trees and some creeks that served to recharge hydration. We reached our first goal at 1 in the morning, “Rancho Grande”, a place that welcomed me with a outstanding view of the “City of Fury” and a clear night full of hope and nature.
The next day we had an early breakfast and walked for 5 hours to the shores of the top. We arrived at a place called “El Anfiteatro”, recognized by its flatness and the strength of the voices that emanate when speaking. In my case, hiking is challenging because my element is water. However, I love the spiritual connection that I was able to find with the mountains. For that reason my spirit was energetic, even though my body was a little slower than the rest of the group. For many people, being outside of your comfort zone is a mental impairment to discover unknown places. For me it was a moment of reflection. I understand that sometimes our ego just wants to arrive first, while our soul just wants to be happy and enjoy the butterflies along the way. So I saw this as an opportunity to enjoy and remember that the goal is not the goal, the goal is the path.
The dawn of Sunday was my true peak, when I got to the 2765 MASL. At this point there is a famous cross where many people enjoy taking pictures. You can see the sun rise over the “Estado Vargas” and turn your view to the other side and see a sea of clouds over the city where I was born and raised … it was an experience out of this world.
At the top of the mountain I was talking to a dear colleague, Alejandro Canizales. He told me ‘there are no limits’. So when you look down from the “Pico Naiguatá”, remember that not even the physical world has boundaries, and much less can we say that ‘the sky is the limit’ because it was literally above the clouds.
Peter Espinel started this project when he decided to make new friends at the top of the mountain, giving away freshly brewed coffee. Everybody was very grateful and happy to receive this coffee made with so much love. Later on he started the system of guides and keepers to reach the peak in cooperation with Juan Perffett, with the suitable name “Café Naiguatá”. Today, there are already 14 hearts forming the club.
An important part of the essence of this group is to create outlets for children living in foster homes. The name of the project is “A mountain of values.” Peter explained to us the goal in detail: ‘every day we discovered that just one trip on a mountain of values deeply influences a child. First of all, it realizes that Caracas is not only chaos, violence and survival, but has a giant mountain called Avila, providing serenity to those who visit it. On the other hand, the mountain is mostly home to people that have very good vibes. Children are very curious and constantly ask the guests ‘what do you do?’ We had photographers, historians, accountants, dancers, reporters … And for those children that simple answer is a new discovery because they learn about that profession and thus their world is expanded.
For many children in populated areas, their life consist of the humble houses where they live, probably in a very dysfunctional family with problems such as alcohol, drugs, violence and early pregnancy. When you take a child out of its environment and broaden its horizon, it will very likely give the child more opportunities to choose from, in what later will become his or her life decisions.
In Caracas we have worked with the network of foster homes: A.V.B.S Hogar de la Virgen de los Dolores. In Mérida we have worked with El Jardín de la Esperanza, Fundación Don Bosco y Divino Niño Jesús”
When I asked Peter ‘why do you believe in Venezuela,’ the answer was ‘Easy: I grew up in a foster home and have seen the harsh realities of the neighborhoods. How different would my childhood have been, if I had known about mountain climbing 10 years ago? I met her at age 27 and my life changed a lot. Now it is my passion and my job, and I know that starting from the mountains we can build a better Venezuela. That’s what it is … and for all this is “Love, Coffee and Mountain”.
For Peter Espinel, limits are beyond what is visible to the eye and this is what I collected from my expedition with Café Naiguatá.