I went to a Mcdonalds today with my pessimist friend from Pennsylvania, Ryan. It was quite possibly the nicest McDonald’s I’ve ever been to, and probably the second nicest place I’ve seen in Venezuela. There was two floors complete with grand staircase, an elevated walkway, a spot for you to study and plug in your laptop, and an entire second counter just for desserts. Amazing. That’s the only word I had for it. It felt good to be home.

I got a 6 piezas McNuggets, which of course brought back a significant portion of my childhood. Afterward, we hit up the dessert counter only to find that the specialty chocolate dipped softserve cone which I had come to McDonald’s for in the first place was sold out. I bought a normal cone for 3500 Bs, and prefacing that I only had a 50,000 Bolivares bill, was served with quite possibly the strangest expression ever.

In a normal Venezuelan establishment, paying with a 50 thousand and asking for more than 20 thousand worth back in change is practically suicide. Here in McDonald’s the cashier gave me a look somewhere between “Why the hell would a 50 thousand matter?” and “Doesn’t he know that this is a MCDONALD’S??!!” I was expecting to be refused service or to wind up receiving a dozen ice cream cones as “change.” I was pleased that change was not a problem, and shrugged off the look by reassuring myself that sometimes it’s okay to be a gringo.

All McDonald’s’ aside, while I was walking home with my new backpack, I saw a powerline spark like a firework and split in two. It was pretty crazy. It’s totally understandable just by looking at each utility pole here in Merida, but shocking nevertheless. Get it?