The next morning, after a deep, healing sleep in one of Canaima Camp's little thatched-roof bungalows, Eduardo drove me over dry desert land with fissures like the cracks on top of a brownie. At a bend in the river we boarded a canoe and floated along for two hours or so, Eduardo pointing out fish, parrots, and, hanging from barely visible stems, bursts of purplish pink - Venezuela's national flower, the orchid.
For lunch we stopped at a tiny camp maintained by Pemon Indians, the original inhabitants of Canaima, and Eduardo deftly prepared chicken with tomatoes and onions. He pulled out a jar filled with what looked like black jelly, which he offered as a condiment. In case you haven't tried them, I'll tell you: Venezuelan ants are crunchy like raspberries, as tart as capers.
On my last morning in Canaima, I flew in a 1945 DC-3 propeller plane up into a misty canyon, swooping close to Auyan Tepui's flat top, where strange plants and animals live, and past Angel Falls, the highest waterfall in the world. Along the sides of the tepui were tall, skinny protrusions that looked like human designs - watchtowers from which to look out for enemies. The whole place resembled an ancient city that had been evacuated in a catastrophe.
But that isn't the image I'll call up when I think of Venezuela. What I'll remember instead is a scene - light-hearted, even bordering on silly - from the night before. I was sitting alone at a snack bar, thinking that this place would make a great setting for a Disney adventure movie. Quite suddenly, the room was dense with people. I saw Tim Allen, of Home Improvement fame; next, some British men came in, followed by some Americans and finally the actress Lolita Davidovitch. One of the Englishmen, a camera operator, told me everyone was staying in Canaima to shoot Jungle 2 Jungle - a Disney adventure film. The lights in the snack bar went down, and the music came up. Someone pulled out a cooler filled with beer. I dug into my purse, pulled out the bold eyeliner, and joined the party.
HERE'S THE DEAL
SERVITOURS (800/337-5292) offers a three-night package that covers a round-trip flight to Caracas from New York, airport transfers, one night at the Eurobuilding hotel in Caracas, a round-trip flight from Caracas to Canaima, two nights at Canaima Camp, inclusive of meals, a 45-minute flight to Angel Falls, and a canoe trip (optional splurge: $60 for a guide). The price is per person based on double occupancy.
Dinner, Maute Grill $30
A frequent reporter on Latin American culture for the New York Review of Books, Kerr also writes book and movie reviews for Slate and The New Yorker.