Live the adventures of Dan Walker's travels through reading his travel journal. The travel journals are listed below in descending order of date. To search the travel journals, use the keyword search at the bottom of the page.
|Friday, February 24, 2017 13:46:18|
Isla Margarita 2017: 3. Exploring the island
Monday, February 20, 2017
We started slow and easy, as breakfast was on until 10 AM, then drove along the coast road in the direction of Playa de Aguas. There were tiny fishing villages with sandy beaches where the high bow open boats favoured by fisherman were pulled out of the water. We spotted a place with dozens of boats together, so pulled in to investigate. It was a flat sandy beach protected by a small breakwater in front of a larger fishing village. We talked to a fisherman named Ovidio, and struck a deal for a trip to the Frailes islands, about 7 miles off the coast, tomorrow morning.
Continuing along the coast we were forced inland to the main road by a rocky point. At the far end of Playa de Aguas, we turned towards the beach. This end of the very long, white sand beach has no development, just the road running along palm lined beach. The area became more developed as we progressed, with a couple of good hotels, some abandoned or lower end ones and a few tiny shops and snack bars in permanent buildings across from the beach. The beach side was left natural.
We picked a spot in the less populated area with some beach lounges, sun umbrellas and a stand with a cooler of drinks, where we talked to the beach man for an all inclusive hotel located back from the beach. After we chatted a bit he invited us to use a couple of chairs under an umbrella, as it wasn't crowded. We had a good swim, played in the waves, and when we left I gave him as small tip - about 30 cents at our exchange rate. In return he gave me a very welcome ice cold beer!
Further along the beach we spotted a tiny liquor store, so stopped to buy beer for the boat tomorrow and the fridge in our room. They also had bottles of pre-made mohitos, so Marilynn chose 6 of those. 18 beer and the margarita drinks came to a total of $11.
The parking guard at the liquor store invited us to use beach umbrellas and lounges on the beach across the street from the store, so we left the drinks in the store cooler and had another swim, after which I fell asleep on the lounge chair. Everyone so far has been very friendly and more than helpful, but we haven't seen any other non Latino tourists, most are from Caracas with some Columbians.
Marilynn had spotted Restaurant Biblos on Playa Parquito, close to where we arranged the boat trip, so we stopped there for dinner. It was an amazing place, located right on a nice sandy beach. The drinks were good, they had several types of wine available, and a very extensive menu. Complementary glasses of wine arrived immediately after we sat down. We shared 10 jumbo shrimp, cooked beautifully and served with melted butter as a dip, plus potatoes and salad. We then had 6 huge langostinos, a cross between shrimp and lobster, with more side dishes plus lots of wine and beer. The stack of money to settle the bill cost about $30.
When we arrived back at the hotel and handed the car over to the valet Marilynn asked if they knew a money changer, as were a down to a stack of money less than a meter tall. We got a call in the room shortly to say someone was on their way from Porlamar, and the rate would be 3,500 bolivars to the dollar, but they had only enough to change $100. When they arrived we got into their car. The husband was a specialist in heart surgery and his wife a orthodontist, they were changing money to try to make ends meet. It was very sad that professionals of that calibre had only enough cash to change $100, and that they would drive 1 1/2 hours and for whatever they made by changing $100.
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
We arrived at the beach at 10 AM to find Ovidio and his brother Alfredo ready to go. They had a chest with ice for the beer, and Alfredo arrived with an outboard motor over his shoulder. The fishermen all help one another to get boats off the beach and into the water, so we were soon afloat and on our way to the islands. Our first stop was a great snorkeling spot where there was large number of fish, including a large barracuda. After motoring around one of the islands we came ashore at a small community with about 8 houses strung along the beach, connected by a board walk. One of the houses belonged to Ovidio, the rest were relatives.
On the way to find the next snorkeling spot, we spotted dozens of sea birds diving into the water, a sure sign of an abundance of small fish that would have bigger fish underneath them. Some of the birds were so full of fish they couldn't fly. Olvidio and Alfredo broke out the fishing lines and we soon had fish on, sometimes two at a time as there were two hooks on each line. In a fairly short time we caught 15 bonitas, a small tuna.
Another snorkeling spot had less fish, but nevertheless was interesting. By the end of the day we were burnt to a crisp by the sun - the sun block had been forgotten in the hotel room. On the way back we spotted a school of dolphins, so went to join them. They were playing with the boat, swimming alongside and underneath while our driver zig zagged among them. Some would leap out of the water to spin in the air. It was a wonderful close encounter.
Back at the hotel I had a siesta while Marilynn got on the internet in the lounge area, as the wifi never did work in our room. By the time she got back it was too late too go to the restaurant from last night, so we ate in the hotel. I left the table early after dinner and a lot of rum to watch the stars come out, while Marilynn finished up and signed the bill. She joined me, but unfortunately left our camera somewhere along the way. Neither of us thought of it when we went back to the room, and we never saw it again. The big loss is all our photos.
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
In the morning we reported the missing camera to various hotel employees who promised to look into it before we drove to the main city on the island, Porlamar, this morning, stopping at a huge, very upscale shopping mall in search of a store that might sell cameras, but there wasn't one. The mall had no vacant stores that we could see, and was beautifully appointed with frequent sofa groupings for husbands to sit and wait while wives shopped. Guarded underground parking was free.
We spent time driving around the city before going to the airport, where I had hoped to arrange a leg room seat for the return flight on Friday. After a long walk we found the Estelar Airlines desk, only to be told seats were on a first come first serve basis the day of the flight.
It was only about 8 km (5 mi) to Playa Yaqui from the airport, a beach that had been recommended. It has beautiful white sand, and the water is much warmer than on our end of the island. Marilynn waded a little, but we didn't go swimming, as the sunburn was still painful. It is very commercial, with restaurant tables on the beach one after another, so we had a couple of drinks and some ceviche.
On the return I took a road through Asuncion, which has a very old Spanish quarter with a big ancient church. From there we went through Santa Ana en route to the opposite coast of the island. The road continued over a range of high seaside hills, offering amazing views down the coast, where beach after beach was visible. We ended at the seafood restaurant we enjoyed on Monday for dinner and wine before returning to the hotel for an early night.
Thursday, February 23, 2017
Marilynn met with the hotel manager this morning. He told her the reason nothing had been done about the camera yesterday was that there had been no management people at the hotel, everyone was at a meeting. When he was told we were willing to offer a $US200 reward, a huge sum here that would exchange to 800,000 Bolivars, he was very opposed to the idea, asking that we give him until noon to try to have some information. Noon stretched until after 1 PM, when they had a clear shot of Marilynn entering the room with what they hoped was the camera, but it was her small purse.
While they went back to looking at surveillance videos, still very opposed to a reward, we drove down to the beach just past where the fish boats were and went for a final swim in warm, clear water. Marilynn said it was as warm as Playa El Yaque from yesterday. Along the shore some locals were harvesting palm fronds and coconuts from the trees that grow along the edge of the beach.
Dinner was with a couple who just got married at the hotel and were on their honeymoon. He has been living in Santa Ana, Costa Rica for a month as his company received a one year contract through Microsoft to do IT work for the Automercado chain of supermarkets. When his wife joins him next month it will be her first time in Costa Rica. We'll get together when they arrive.
There was still no word on our camera - I have suspicions the drawn out process was to keep us from making the reward offer. If that was the case, they won, as it is now too late.