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Published: August 7th 2007
After a few days of mucking around in the wilderness, it was time for a spot of sun, surf and sand. So we headed to the small fishing village of Puerto Colombia, in Harry Potter National Park. (It's not really called that. It's actually called Henri Pittier National Park, after the founder of the Venezuelan National Park scheme). One half of the park is mountains and cloudforest, and the other half is miles of unspoilt beaches and coastline. 7% of the world's species of birds are found here!
On the way to the park, we were boarded by the National Guard, who wanted to see our passports. Our tour leader, Dave "The Hat", had a standard procedure for this.
1. Even if you speak Spanish, the passengers should act as if they speak none. They will soon lose interest
2. All passengers should only present a photocopy of their passport. There have been cases in the past where the guards have confiscated the passports and you have to pay them money to get them back.
3. When asked why no-one has their original passports, Dave tells them that all our passports are at the Brazillian Embassy in Caracas, awaiting
fishy traffic jam
the fishing boats in Puerto Colombia
a tourist visa.
However Aimar, our second tour leader, decided to improvise. He told them that our passports were all stolen in a hotel in Caracas! It worked. Phew!
We arrived in Puerto Colombia late, and all the restaurants were closed. Our only option was a late-night burger stand, which had run out of burgers. The only thing left was hotdogs. It made me laugh, because "hot dog" translates directly into Spanish - Perro Caliente! And I'm sure you have heard, but many countries eat dog. I heard of a tale where someone from one of these countries saw a hot dog, and exclaimed "that is the only part we DON'T eat!" However, these hotdogs were of the usual variety. I ordered the "special", which took the guy five minutes to make, and was nothing less than a junkfood masterpiece! It consisted of (in order of contruction): Bread roll, slice of ham, layer of mayonaise, the hot dog itself, diced onions, crushed crisps, grated cheese, mustard and tomato sauce! Delicious. I had two. (after all, I do have a figure to maintain)
Tried to practice my Spanish in this village, but to no avail. No-one understands me!
this fine specimen was about 3 inches long. Almost the same size as Ronnie Corbett
Perhaps I speak Spanish with a Cheshire accent, but people in Ecuador understand me fine. (Incidentally, I have heard that if you speak Spanish but not Portuguese, you can make yourself understood in Portugal/Brazil by simply speaking Spanish with a Sean Connery accent). I tried to order a bottle of red wine with three glasses of wine, which should be the easiest task in the world. Una botella de vino tinto y tres copas, por favor. The guy looked at me blankly. I tried again, more slowly. His eyes light up, and he says in Spanish "ah, you want beer!" I gave up. Perhaps I was speaking too slowly. One of the girls, Rica, who was born in Puerto Rica says that when I speak Spanish, she can understand me fine, but I speak like Forrest Gump.
Not much more to say about my stay here, expect the beach was nice and the National Park was beautiful. I'll let the photos speak for themselves
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