Puerto Colombia

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July 27th 2009
Published: August 13th 2009
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How things have changed, Venezuela really does have a contrasting landscape, we have now just finished a few days of Caribbean sun and sand and a good idea of how the Venezuelans like to enjoy themselves. Not much different to us in the Western world, just add sun, alcohol and music (although I know I am not speaking for all the western world!). We had another overnight bus, I have come to like the stops we make in the middle of the night, it gives me good opportunity to thaw. We arrived to Maracay on the Friday morning of a holiday, the birthday of Simon Bolivar, and for those of you who know, this Liberator of the Northern part of South America is everywhere, every town has a park and square named after him, schools have statues of him. I am even starting to see him in my sleep.
This was mayhem, there were old 1970s american looking school buses awaiting to take revellers on the journey to Puerto Colombia for the beach. We had a heap of luggage so we opted for a por puesto. Which is just a car and the driver waits for it to fill up before you go. Ours more seemed like four mates who were on their holidays and just wanted some spending money so they all take their cars and fill them up. It was a rather squashy ride over a high mountains and narrow roads, twisting and turning before dropping down into the Caribbean, the driver played loud Salsa music which I have to say I was enjoying.
Arriving in the small town, only a few streets, the traffic was clogged and there were people everywhere, with their eskies full of drink ready for the beach. The temperature was boiling and we found a place, not many around but it was very simple and the water ran out after a day, so we had to use the family shower. (Deb wasnt happy, and she doesnt mind a good moan now and again). I have to laugh sometimes, as Deb has no Spanish, when she was going to use the family shower the lady says "arriba, arriba". Deb comes back to me after the shower (quickest of her life). I say "you were quick". She says lady said "arriba, arriba". Too many Speedy Gonzalez cartoons for Deb as I explained that she was telling you that the nozel to turn the shower on was above her. Well she now knows a bit of Spanish!
Now something about the Venezuelans, they seem much more relaxed than their Brazilian counterparts, and to me it seemed they never seem to grow up (not in a bad way) but there was plenty of loud music from cars, full of eskies, and I mean people even in their 40s and so on, they just seem to bring the kids with them, so it makes for a mix of people partying from young to old with not much difference between them. Even saw a few youngsters enjoying a beer or two.
We spent the days on the beach, very, very warm in the sun. Playa Grande a lovely sweeping beach (very busy with people), we took a boat to another beach, Chao, which was a little less busy and the surf more calm. In the evening a nice cool breeze came in making it nice outside, we grabbed some rum and joined the Venezuelans in their impromptu rumbas, cars pulling up, parked and music for them to dance to, bands playing music and even the drums were out. A real do it yourself party with everyone enjoying themselves. Come Monday the crowds had returned home and the beach was more relaxed and calm.
Again not too many gringos around and we do feel a little strange, I went to the beach on my own one afternoon and didnt realise how when we travel together you are less likely to be pestered. I had one group who called me over and only wanted to take pictures of the gringo and looked more fascinated at me than anything, and another group called me over not mearly 20m further on and I had a marriage proposal, once I told them I had an esposa (wife), they all had a laugh and suggested I have a Venezuelan girlfriend then. They were all no harm and just a bit of fun, but needless to say I didnt venture much further on with the fear of being hounded again for gringo photos.
We had a lovely fruit called Mamones, about half the size of an egg, with a large seed, but what juice there is inside is very tasty and leaves you wanting more.
Another note for Puerto Colombia is breasts, or more to the point fake breasts, they seemed to appear everywhere, even the manequins are much out of proportion, I even saw a five year old girl who spent a good deal of time filling her bikini top with sand and moulding a perfect pair, but I fear for a lot of the Venezuelans the fried food they love, empenadas, arepas cant be good for them or make them look better on the beach. Brazil takes the healthy nation award! I have just finished reading 100 years of Solitude by South American author Gabriel Marcia Marquez, a great read and a thanks to Elena at FIXI for choosing it for me.
Our bus back to Maracay (an old 1975 Guatemalan bus painted bright blue) was an experience, squashed in, with blaring rumba music (even the man in front of me in his 60s didnt seem to mind) and the strong smell of petrol as the bus took the twists and turns, Deb and I just looked at each other and smiled, this is why we are here, to experience these countries and do as the locals do. A great weekend and good to see how the Venezuelans enjoy themselves. On to Merida for our first glimpse the Andes

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