Thursday, February 5, 2009

Isla Margarita, Venezuela

Saturday January 31, 2009
Porlamar, Isla Margarita, Venezuela
coordinates 10 57.075N,063 49.916W

We had more motoring than sailing on our way to Venezuela than we had hoped, so now we really did need to stop for fuel. We were understandably unsure and apprehensive about staying long at this destination due to the overwhelming reports that came out regarding the increased physical violence along with the armed robberies that had been occurring here. The bay itself does not have a lot of redeeming values to it though the water is clean enough to swim in. The skyline of shore is surprisingly
tall with hotels and office buildings. We did not expect that. The shoreline itself has much the feel of a very run down barrio and the down town feels like a bustling once upon a time tourist destination. The taxi cab drivers we met were extremely helpful, friendly and were happy to let us know that they loved living there, it was better than the main land. Safer for them but not for tourists, too many guns. That little hand signal for gun is universal. According to all of them Chavez is crazy
and Obama is great.

We timed our arrival for sunrise Monday morning, hoping that we could check in, get fuel and check out potentially in a days time. Oh well. There are 50+ boats anchored there at any given time and some look like they have been there for 50 years. It is a good place to "lose" yourself if so desired. Try to explain that concept to your kids. Though we never felt threatened ourselves, we never felt relaxed either, especially at night. It is recommended that you lock yourself in and bring all items
inside that might grow feet. Not in our entire travels have we ever been told to "lock yourself in". Usually we sleep with all the doors and windows open. On shore you can meet Juan of Marina Juan. Full of information and well spoken he offers a wide variety of services from propane on tue/thur, laundry 5 bolivars/kg, free shuttle mon/wed to town for a shopping experience and provisioning. There is a huge selection of books for trade and he'll gladly do your check in/out for you for a fee.
Approximately $290 Bolivars in/ $250 Bolivars out for the four of us. Or you can do it yourself at the Coast Guard just down the beach for much less. We checked in with him and then realized we could check out on our own saved about $120. Taxi cab rides are 12-15 bolivars and they'll take you right down town for your shopping or money exchanging needs. At the bank the exchange rate is 2.5 Bolivars to 1 USD. At the little clothing store "Ellos" across the street from the BP fuel station you can
safely get the black market exchange rate of 5 Bolivars to 1 USD, which everyone recommends you do. Don't change money on the street by solicitors as they will likely run off with your money. Following everyone's advise we went to the clothing store to get the most bang for our buck but are still have questionable feelings as to whether or not we just contributed to some underground drug ring.

We did eventually get our fuel. Though we made appointments for him to come Monday afternoon, then Tuesday morning, how about Tuesday afternoon, he finally appeared Wed at 4pm. That is island time. Happy to help, he drove his panga (fishing boat) up beside us and let his partner hand crank the 300 liters into out tanks. It was worth the wait at 40 cents/gallon. As Bruce says, what fuel crisis.

Lastly, no trip to Venezuela would be complete with out some discussion of the booming plastics industry. A whole new lesson in anatomy, it is apparently very common and very cheap to have breast augmentation done here. We heard stories that it can be a right of passage for many 16 year old girls. Easy to say we have never seen so many big boobies in all our days. Grandma, mom, daughter, right on down the line, everyone was wearing them. The boys seem remarkably unaffected by the anatomy lesson,
mom and dad were still flabbergasted. We debated, fuel ??? new boobs ??? fuel ??? new boobs ???. OK, this time we needed fuel more.

Happy to have the company of the pelicans and frigate birds again we are moving on to more remote waters. Currently under sail and half way to our next destination of the atolls and islands of Los Roques and Aves before heading onto the ABC's. Though it was tough to unplug from the internet we are very excited to seek some more peaceful settings and get our feet wet.

until next time,
your Ohana Kai crew
Please remember to delete old messages first when replying to emails, THANKS

1 comment:

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