Travel: Los Roques, Venezuela (Part II)
BF and I spent the afternoon reading, relaxing and some swimming. We went snorkeling, and we were only off the shore a few meters and could see many tropical fish in the water below the sea weed, and in the crevices of rocks/debris. Beneath the bright turquoise water was another world! Even though this was not my first time going snorkeling/scuba diving in the ocean, I still get a thrill – it’s like watching National Geographics right before my eyes!
We had nothing to fear, as our speedboat came to pick us up in the late afternoon, and we were off to our beloved posada. The sun really tired us out, and BF and I soon made the awful discovery of our respective sun burns. Turns out that I had forgotten to put sun screen on my back! We weren’t in the water/out in the sun for very long – maximum 30 minutes, and we spent the rest of the time in the shade.
However, the sun was very strong – especially so close to the equator. I felt really bad because I always nag remind BF to put on sunscreen. I am usually very disciplined in putting on sunscreen – having only been burned once before this incident. I even watched BF diligently apply his sunscreen while we were on the boat on our way to the islands – and then we went into the water to look at the starfishes.
The next day, we decided to stay out of the sun – no more beach day care for us. We stayed at the posada and read, then went for a walk around the island.
Most of the houses were cast in place, and then painted bright colours on the outside. We stopped for food and drinks (in the shade!), watched the ocean and pelicans. We ordered food from a Spanish menu and were pleasantly surprised when we expected nachos. Neither BF or speak Spanish and the little Portugese he had acquired while in Brasil helped – a bit.
As the end of the day drew near, we were a bit sad to be leaving paradise and our beautiful posada. We caught the beautiful sunset, where the entire sky lit up in an array of colours. We watched the fishermen come back from a days of work, and gut the fishes right on the sandy shores. We watched construction workers toss bricks in a line, from the boat to the shore. One mistake and I’m sure someone’s foot would be dunzo.
From my quick wikipedia search, Los Roques started mainly as a fishing village. Eventually, as more and more people discovered it’s under water beauty and it became a national park, tourism increased, and is currently the main industry on the island.
As our time in paradise was nearing the end, BF and I contemplated what we would do for the next day. Our flight from the island to Caracas would be getting in early afternoon, and our respective flights out were at 10:00pm and 12:50am. We had a lot of time to kill.
During our last dinner, we met a couple from the city of Caracas and asked them for any advice of perhaps going into the city for the afternoon. They suggested that we stay at the airport, since neither of us spoke Spanish, and we may be taken advantage of since we were tourists.
The next day, we headed our new friends’ advice and spent the afternoon and evening having our adventure between the confines of the domestic and international terminals. We read, ate, streamed episodes of the Big Bang Theory, figured out how much money we would have to exchange to pay our taxes to leave. Good times.
A word of caution for readers who may want to visit, it is best to bring US Dollars and exchange them here for the local currency, known as Bolivars. If you were to convert the money at home, the exchange would have been approximately 1USD = 4 Bolvairs, but here we easily found it for 1USD = 7 Bolivars. People change money under the table a lot, and it is easy to find. Unfortunately, they only recognize value in the American dollar and scoffed at our Canadian money. (We decided it was pointless to convince them that we are almost at parity!)
BF and I were both really relieved after we passed through the security gates. Unlike what we were used to Canada, the many military guards whom roamed the airports (with guns), did not seem to be authoritative figures who could be trusted. It seemed that the guards were looking for trouble with us – demanding our citizen ship every time we passed by, making us take off shoes/belts etc, even though we weren’t walking through a metal detector. It was a wake up call that not all areas of the world was as safe and fair as I knew it to be in Canada.
All in all, it was a wonderful trip, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to see a new part of the world, that I might have otherwise not have the opportunity to visit. Venezuela is a beautiful country – both in it’s natural wonders and the hospitality and friendly people we have met. It is a shame that there is much corruption in their government, and the lack of safety for the people. It makes me very grateful to live in a country where I can trust the police and there is legislation in place to keep corruption in government at bay.
What are your thoughts on travel in South America, if you have been? Any travel stories you would like to share on a recent trip?