I haven’t really been on top of things here in Venezuela. I’ve been having a great time with my friend Luis and things have been awesome. The volunteering opportunity I arranged in Barcelona, Venezuela didn’t work out, so just before New Year’s I found myself not knowing what to do. Staying longer felt like overstaying my welcome with Luis.
I decided to head to Merida, but when was the question. I thought New Year’s Day would be best, leaving at night and arriving on the 2nd in the morning.
As it turned out, as I was thinking about what to do, Luis wrote me on Friday the 30th in the afternoon asking what my plans were. He had an offer to head to the beach for 2200B each (about $250) to celebrate the new year. Unfortunately, after my expensive sailing trip from Panama to Colombia, that was a bit out of my price range.
We decided we’d spend New Year’s with Luis’s uncle in Caracas and went out that night.
We got back at 4am and the plan was to sleep as much as possible on the 31st since we were both way behind on sleep.
That’s not what happened.
Impromptu Beach Trip
I woke up at 8am to the sound of Luis singing in the shower. I realized something weird was going on because it was way too early to wake up and he should not have the energy to sing in the shower.
He came out of his room and greeted me in a bathing suit! Apparently, there were empty rooms in the same hotel and Luis’s friend already there got us a room for the night for only 550B (about $30 each). Nice!
I spent 10 minutes getting ready and we were on our way for the four hour journey to Tucacas to enjoy the nicest beach in Venezuela.
Picking Up Bon-Bon
Along the way, we stopped and picked up Luis’s friend’s dog from a dog hotel. Dogs were allowed in the hotel so they asked us to bring their dog Bon Bon. This later turned out to be quite funny since it’s a poodle with a pink bow on each ear. Carrying her around definitely gave off the wrong impression about my sexual orientation, but it was fun nevertheless!
The Beach – Playa Azul
We were like Tasmanian Devils once we got to Tucacas. We had a quick lunch, bought some supplies, and checked into the hotel as quickly as possible. The beach was on an island and we had to take a boat to get there.
Wow. All I can say is wow. The beach had rich, blue water. It’s what I, stupidly, expected of the entire Caribbean. But nevertheless, at this beach I got to experience the Caribbean as I thought it would be.
Luis’s friend, Rosio, was already there with her family. New Year’s Eve is usually spent with family here in Venezuela. I think it’s the one day of the year when Gringos party better than Latinos..
We spent some time on the beach, took in the sights, sounds, and warmth, and then headed back to the hotel.
Last Sunset Of 2011
We changed and then headed back out to a nearby beach to watch the sunset. It was really nice, but just as in Taganga, Colombia, the sunset was interrupted by a drunk person. This time it was a guy selling food on the beach, but he kept talking, sometimes saying rude things, while we tried to take in the sunset.
Ringing In The New Year
The hotel had a dinner of traditional Venezuelan dishes (hallaca, perniel, and salad). For entertainment there were two musicians.
Midnight came without much fanfare. The tradition here is to tightly hug your loved ones. So we hugged, toasted, and then went outside to see what “surprise” the hotel owner promised was part of the evening.
The surprise was fireworks. Not much of a surprise since people shoot off fireworks constantly during the holidays. But the show was great. Even more fun is that in every direction you could look there were other fireworks. I’d say the scale of the fireworks here is smaller than what I’m used to for 4th of July extravaganzas, but lots of smaller fireworks filling the sky is just as, if not more impressive.
Being crazy tired, though happy and in a good mood, I went to bed around 1am.
January 1, 2012 – Another Day At The Beach
The next day we went to the nearby beach where we took in the sunset from the day before. Another relaxing and wonderful day.
The food vendors here are pretty serious. Here you can see the cooler two guys carry full of seafood.
I didn’t try much seafood, but I did try what I think was a snail. I’m still not sure, so if you know what I ate, please let me know below in the comments. Anyway, you can see the play-by-play. I didn’t like it very much…
I have decided to grow out my hair. It’s now the longest it has been in at least 15 years. It’s out of control. Maybe I could tame it with a comb, but that would be no fun.
I also solved another issue. I ran out of Venezuelan money and going to an ATM is not an option since you get the official government rate of 4.3 Bolivars per U.S. Dollar. Instead, I got 8.75 Bolivars/$1 for my first exchange, and this time, with Rosio’s dad, 8.5 Bolivars/$1.
Soon I’ll release a series of posts on how I do everything on The Happy Nomad Tour. Money will be one of the topics and, by far, Venezuela has been the biggest monetary challenge on my trip.
We headed back to Caracas on the afternoon of the 1st. We drove during the afternoon because the highways aren’t lit and it’s more dangerous. There are potholes and small animals to avoid.
As you can see, I had a guest on my lap for the way back! You gotta love man’s best friend and ringing in the new year in Venezuela!
I will write a post about it soon as it certainly deserves its own post, but Latin hospitality is truly amazing. It never ceases to amaze me and I don’t think I could ever get used to it. Luis has been amazing and Rosario’s family was very welcoming and wonderful.
Muchas gracias y Feliz Año Nuevo!