¿Por qué no te callas?

Yes I had a change of plan and have ventured into Venezuela for a few weeks.

When Spanish King Juan Carlos said to Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, “why don`t you shut up?” he became a hero there and elsewhere. His comment was uploaded to the internet and subsequently downloaded as a cell phone ringtone by millions of Spaniards and others. Now, I don`t know much about Chavez but my impressions of Venezuela are 1) lots of police, 2) lots of traffic. They also have this odd law that requires you to give your name, national ID number and telephone when making a purchase. That’s right: Every single thing you buy, except food,  is recorded by the government. It’s crazy and leads to huge delays at the checkout counter. I spent half my time in Caracas waiting in traffic or waiting to buy stuff. It is one city I would not want to live in.

Here’s a view of the traffic from my hotel room. It was like this all day…

…and all night:

Want a drink?

You see some strange things when traveling. I had just crossed into Venezuela and stopped at a little store to buy some juice. There in the refrigerator next to the Coke was a bottle of…well let’s just say I don’t think it would sell very well in the USA.

It’s all about what you expect

Despite the frustration of trying to get around in Caracas I found I was not impatient or angry. I realized that I had adjusted my expectations to account for the poor service and the conditions. In other words, I had very low expectations of people and things, so when I got delayed or received lousy service I was not disappointed.

The converse is also true. If you go to a Four Seasons hotel you have very high expectations and if something is not exactly right you will notice it and be a little disappointed. So the secret to happiness, maybe, is to have low expectations of everyone, then when people do things that are stupid or thoughtless or rude, you won’t feel angry or offended. My cousin Mike Kilpela described this concept to me years ago. Don’t expect consideration, kindness or intelligence from anyone. That way when you don’t get it you won’t feel bad. If you do get it, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Any thoughts on that?

11 thoughts on “¿Por qué no te callas?

  1. Ben Kilpela December 21, 2007 / 6:47 pm

    Kind of a Buddhist approach to things. The summit of that philosophy is to expect and DESIRE nothing from all of life, in every facet, in every phase: NOTHING! Not only will you not be disappointed, you will be enlightened, thereby reaching the highest stage of human experience, a drop of water dripped into the ocean of God, whatever that it.

    Fantastic night shot of the traffic. Had to bounce the shot of your namesake in Japan school on my background for this one.

    Kev, who the hell told your Dad to use spellchcek on his blog? Dammit, I have been loving his creative spelling. Turn the damn program off! You or someone has ruined his art.


  2. Capt. Don Kilpela Sr. December 21, 2007 / 7:25 pm

    Kevin: You ought to drop over to Curacao which is only 50-60 miles from the north coast of Venezuela and take a break.

    Chavez is making a huge impact on Curacao and Bonaire. Incidentally, I wouldn’t take too many pictures in Caracas. Those polica aren’t there for the tourists’ edification.

  3. DAD December 21, 2007 / 11:53 pm

    My philosophy exactly. It rubbed off on you.

  4. katrina December 23, 2007 / 6:26 am

    Hi Kev

    that works especially well on vacations, with kids.
    Expect to not have all that much fun, (zero) and you don’t, and it’s ok.
    But it just costs a lot of money, for all that no fun. that’s the only problem.

    Seriously, I am quite satisfied with a 25% fun, 75% misery trip.

    It’s also really hard to not get excited about a vacation.

    We have one coming in February. Boy, it’s gonna be horrible, right? 🙂

  5. Jim December 24, 2007 / 1:54 am

    Traffic looks worse than Boston…I didn’t think that was possible. Merry Christmas, Kev., and best wishes for the new year. I continue to follow your travels with great interest…thanks.

  6. maudie December 25, 2007 / 12:04 am

    Merry Christmas, how will Santa find you???? Enjoying your blog and also your Dad’s, even though he does choose creative spelling, part of his charm. Happy Holiday.. Maudie & Martha

  7. Robin December 29, 2007 / 2:54 am


    Thanks for reminding me why Caracas is NOT on my list of places to get to in the near future.

    Happy holidays, happy new year and happy travels…….


  8. Kevin Koski December 30, 2007 / 4:17 pm

    Ben, I´m not sure how my dad discovered the spell checker. I didn´t tell him. I love the creative spelling.

    Don, I would have loved to visit Curacao, but it was just too complicated. Plus I am already way behind schedule.

    Robin, I hate to say it, but Venezuela is one place I cannot recommend. Maybe when they devalue the currency it will become cheaper.

  9. Marc January 2, 2008 / 5:47 pm


    So what did the PISS taste like? What a trip! I enjoy following your travels, keep it up.

    Marc d

  10. Alejandro Arias January 9, 2008 / 8:46 pm

    Hope you are doing OK, hope to hear from you as soon as you cross the border to Costa Rica.

    Alejandro Arias

  11. jojo January 20, 2008 / 4:48 am

    We have many slogans in AA that get us by on our crazy journey when we’re trying to figure it all out and make some sense of it and it goes like this, simply,” when my expectations are low, my serenity is high”…hard to do, but practiced daily, it starts to sink in.
    Had a chuckle over “piss”…I hate that word.

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