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|Friday, February 17, 2017 11:27:41|
Isla Margarita 2017: 1. Making arrangements
Friday, February 17, 2017
Isla Margarita is a destination Marilynn and I have been looking forward to visiting for some time. Not only does the name bring thoughts of a hot weather beverage, it is one of very few Caribbean Islands I've not spent time on. We thought of going there when we were driving the Rolls through Venezuela in 2011 and saw a sign to the Isla Margarita ferry, but we were tired after months of driving over some of the worst roads imaginable, so we decided against it.
The best way we found to get there from Costa Rica is via Panama City to Caracas, so I ticketed the flights on COPA. It was not possible to purchase tickets on line for Laser or Conviasa Airlines to get to Isla Margaritas, as both required a Venezuelan identity card number, something one does not find out until pages of information have been entered. Neither answered emails or phone calls.
We would need a car, but there were issues with currency conversion. I finally chose ACO Rent a Car, who quoted $US 237.48 for a mid sized car for a week through their Miami office.
Marilynn spent a lot of time looking for accommodation on the beach while I used Google Earth to follow the coastline, checking photos and descriptions of beach front hotels. The ones with good beaches had bad reviews, except for a condo complex called Cimarron Suites. Marilynn finally found an owner who had availability for April 9 to 16,. His photos showed a nice second floor condo with a balcony overlooking a white sand beach and ocean. She paid $370 for a week though Pay Pal.
We then received word that a very close friend who had been battling cancer was on his last days, so we cancelled all arrangements. COPA (through Expedia) gave us a year to use our tickets, ACO agreed to apply the payment to a future rental but the apartment owner would not refund anything. We caught the first available flight to Victoria.
As time was running out to use our prepaid costs, I arranged a visit for the end of February this year, shortly after our return from the winter carnival in Quebec City. There was no problem with Expedia arranging new flights, and we booked the Isla Margarita return flights through them on Aserca Airlines as well. Unfortunately the COPA flight dates were written in stone before I found out the Aserca schedule, so we will have an overnight in Caracas going and coming.
ACO Rent-a-car agreed to use our credit but said we would have to pay $133 additional for using the car for two days less. Car rentals are expensive on the island, so it was the best deal I could get.
We booked the Ikin Margarita hotel through Expedia instead of trying for a condo again - it had good ratings and seemed to have a decent beach. Our flight from Costa Rica requires us to be at the airport at 3 AM, not our favourite departure time.
The Canadian Government advisory on Venezuela makes interesting reading, particularly in regard to safety. They basically say don't go. https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/venezuela