Hello fellow Factionites! My wife, two kids and I are currently visiting Val Verde for the first time. While Val Verde may look like your stereotypical Latin American nation — lush rainforests and a harsh military dictatorship; there is much more to it. Val Verde is a gorgeous country with warm friendly people, from the crew of the USS Georgetown who dropped us there to Sheena the driver of the Pacific Courier that took us to our hotel. Ok, bad things first. Transport within the country is controlled by minister for transport General Ramon Esperanza and is rather expensive by our standards. So is accommodation if you like air conditioning and a pool for cool dips at the end of the day. Not much English spoken here either.
Good things? Everything else. The people are so warm and welcoming. The roads are good and while drivers are rather crazy from what we are used to, there doesn’t seem to be road rage, and everything seems to proceed in a somewhat orderly fashion.
While some people seem very poor, this is a socialist country and it seems as though its citizens are cared for and no one is starving. There also seems to be a real sense of family here.
The beaches are beautiful. The water is clear and beautiful. It’s very windy which eases the heat. It’s a pain on the beach but again makes the heat bearable.
I have two tour guide referrals… John Matrix with Adventours. Matrix is very responsive, has EXCELLENT rates, great, air-conditioned vehicles and an uncanny ability to find a convenient source of weaponry whenever he needs it, whether it’s in a garden shed or the back room of the local gun shop. Matrix arranged to pick us up from the airport and take us anywhere we needed to go. Matrix is a giant of a man. He usually moves with the casual grace of a trained body-builder. His hair is worn in a military brush cut. He wears clothes appropriate to the occasion, whether it is standard civilian attire or loose-fitting comfortable military fatigues.
Matrix was lovely, spoke very good English and filled us in on the culture, history and geography of Val Verde. He even brought us to an ex-government supplies store and translated to get my unlocked phone a Val Veridian SIM card. He gave us a fabulous tour of the Val Veridian El Presidente and dropped us at his daughter’s health and beauty spa and picked us up at the end of the day. Matrix made our trip so easy and fun and we are grateful to have met him. We’ll be back.
Through Matrix we have met a young man named Alan “Dutch” Schaefer from a company called Predatours. Dutch is very nice, has a newer air-conditioned car, and can keep a calm head and deal with distractions as efficiently as possible. He tells us he is a career man with over 15 years of experience in organizing, implementing, and commanding covert tour operations, specializing in hostage rescue. His rates are very good, and it is nice to be able to arrange for pickup outside the grocery store rather than waiting for an Uber. I don’t speak Spanish and he also helped me to recharge my phone, which was a huge help.
Right now, the crowds are crazy, and we were due to leave today but Dutch has invited us to “Stick around” at a local jungle resort. Dutch is charging us less than the local bus companies to get from downtown to the vacation rental in the middle of the Central American jungle. He also provided night-vision googles so that we can “keep an eye out for the local wildlife.” It was a nice gesture but to be honest we couldn’t see anything. Hopefully we will have more luck tonight as there is definitely something out there.