Monday, October 15, 2007

Cruising the Golfo & Flight Home -- September 2007

Picture: can you see the Red Ibis?
The next weekend, we went with the group, to the east end of the Golfo, where the Rio Cariacou enters. We dingied, and kayaked up the river, where the scarlet ibis live. These birds are a bright, almost fluorescent scarlet, definitely not camouflaged in the mangrove trees where they roust. Also up the river is a derelict shrimp farm. the ponds where the shrimps used to breed were huge, probably covering a couple hundred of acres.

Pictures: Shrimp farm -- water pumping system, old ponds, Ross gunholing in the river

With Aubrey and Judy (Velada IV) we toured the small town, Muelle de Cariacou, another fishing village, but not so isolated, as it is on the main road between Cumina and Cariacou.
More info about our time in Muelle de Cariaco, and Laguna Grande: see Velada IV's blog http://www.searoom.com/veleda/logsec14/veleda4-log44J.htm

We returned to Medregal on Sunday for a possible final domino game, swim and dinner. Monday we paid our tab, and headed off to Laguna Grande. There Bev received a lesson on how to find scallops, clams and other edible shellfish while snorkeling. Not exactly Bev's favourite food group, but Ross should enjoy the adventure and the dinner afterward. She had a second chance the next day, when Rhiannon joined the group, another set of Canadian boaters we hadn’t seen since Antigua. And it was on that snorkel, Bev got to see her first whale in the wild, swimming and blowing in the Laguna. She was so excited…just wish Ross had been there, and that we had been able to take a photo. The whale had entered the Laguna, and was blowing as it swam back and forth in the main channel. At one time, it surfaced and its back and tail were above the surface. Don’t know what kind of whale it was, but from her vantage point in the dinghy, it looked quite large.
Picture: Beautiful Laguna Grande

It is now time to head to Cumina, to get RAFT settled in the marina, and ready to leave for the trip home to Canada. We were given our "old" slip next to Don Carlos, and reacquainted ourselves with the skipper of the charter fishing boat. Explaining in our broken Spanish, that RAFT would be his neighbour for a month, we tied the attached RAFT’s stern line to Don Carlos.
Picture: Cumina Marina

After completing our tasks and farewell drinks, we off to Caracas. We had purchased our tickets a couple days before our departure date, and walked over to the bus station, early to catch the Rodovias Bus. The lazyboy styled seats are assigned when you buy the ticket, we were on the upper level, and it wasn’t as cold as everyone was prepared for. Most of the countryside is flat, skirting in and away from the coast, on good highways. The bus stopped for lunch at a busy roadside restaurant area. After that we entered the more mountainous area, with deep green valleys, becoming more picturesque as we approached Caracas. We were slightly concerned about dealing with a busy city bus terminal and were pleasantly surprised to find out that Rodovias has its own very clean, modern terminal.
Outside we easily found a taxi to take us to Catia La Mar (100,000B), about a 30 minute very pretty drive, on a freshly paved expressway, with a couple of modern tunnels through the mountains. The driver had to ask directions to find La Parada, the hotel which Louis, the travel agent had booked for us. They had our reservation, and the young man on the front desk spoke excellent English, having gone to school in Chicago. Our room was small, but spotless, air-conditioned, and had a large private bath, with modern glass and ceramic shower stall. The cable TV even had about 5 English channels including CNN. Since it was Sunday, the hotel restaurant was closed, but they were willing to drive us to another one, no additional charge. We weren’t hungry, but we did want to see if we could get the Polar Beer cans with the attractive ladies on for our son. Could they direct us to an open liquor store? No problem, their driver would take us there and bring us back. We asked about walking….but they preferred their guest to take the ride, to ensure their safety. The town didn’t look that rough, in fact looked quite nice, but we took the complementary ride anyhow. The hotel staff was quite attentive to all our needs, wake up call and transportation to the airport early the next day, less than 10 min. away. Price, a little higher than expected, 180,000B but we all know that airport hotels get a premium.
Flight home to Toronto, via Houston, no problems. Watch for our return in October.