Monday, October 01, 2007

Playing in the Golfo -- September 2007

After Dean came Tropical Storm Felix. Although only expected to be a tropical storm, we decided to move RAFT into the lee of Guacarapo, not taking any chances. During Dean, the boaters who had remained at Medregal had experienced some heavy west winds and lots of bouncing. And the night before we anticipated Dean’s influence, had been very rocky, the worst it had ever been, claimed the Medregal "regulars".
Guacarapo is a small fishing village about seven miles down the Golfo, and protected from the west by a long sand spit. The village doesn’t offer very much, a few small shops and bars, but it does have "por puesto" access to Cariaco, if you need to get to the larger town. We anchored off the town with about 4 other boats. Being the weekend the locals were enjoying themselves, the children were jumping and swimming off the "town dock", cars were driving the "strip" and the music was thumping. There even was school road race running and all the town’s folk were cheering on the kids.
The next morning birds squawking were disturbing our morning coffee. Through the binoculars we ascertained that a large flock of green parrots were arguing in the trees on the east side of the bay. We explored further by dinghy. These were large green parrots, more than we had seen on our parrot expeditions in Dominica and Grenada.
Pictures: Boat Parade -- Festival of the Virgin Valle

The first weekend in September is the festival of the Virgin del Valle. The small town just to the east of us, Los Cachicatos, was written up in the cruising guide as having a big celebration. We went down by dinghy, early in the weekend to check out the venue, and to find a place to land the dinghy, in anticipation of returning later. The town people had strung streamers, set up a couple of band stages, and decorated their homes with paper and plastic flowers. Unfortunately for 3 of the 4 festival days, there was just too much wind and rain in the afternoon to dinghy down and check it out. The final day, Sunday, was beautiful, warm and calm, but we wasted the opportunity enjoying the Medregal’s pool. We did see the fishing boats, decorated with balloons and streamers, loaded with partygoers, many carrying their own Virgin statue, heading down to the village. Even a large Garda Coasta boat was decorated and participating in the boat parade.
By mid September a new group of boaters had shown up in the Golfo. We had sailed with many of this group in the Bahamas and Dominican Republic and hadn’t seen them since spring of 2006. As veterans of the Golfo anchorages and Medregal Village we became tour guides.

Pictures: Ross sitting on cooler on bus, entrance to caves, Bev and stalagtite/mite, Our guide, guide holding fledging too fat to fly, group at end of cave

We arranged to have a bus trip to the caves in Caripe, recognized as some of the largest caves in the world. In the caves live the local guarcharo birds, actually about 18,000 of these nocturnal birds, which squawk as the guide's lantern slightly lit up the caves. The stalactites and stalagmites were fantastic. Plus the 3 hour trip each way through the mountainous countryside was very enjoyable. Another highlight of the trip was the fresh strawberries and cream in Caripe.
Pictures: our group, Linda (Sandcastle) & Paul (Vixon) behind guide, Bev and Ross, Jeanie & Bob (Island Dreamin') Denise (Vixon) Hutch (Sandcastle) Judy& Aubrey (Velada IV), Sephanie (Stephanielyn)
For a more descriptive detail of our day’s adventure check out Valeda IV’s site http://searoom.com/veleda/logsec14/veleda4-log44J.htm