29
Oct
09

1999 – Trinidad – Ven. – Merida

We left Blanquilla Island  on the 2nd January for Margarita island, arriving there in the evening in Juan Grego bay, and the following day we motor sailed to Porlamar & stayed for 2 days, then sailed across to the mainland to Medina bay, a long palm beach and stayed overnight  and then continued to San Francisco Bay, our favourite anchorage, where we stayed 2 days, and had a lovely sail to the Gulf of Paria  to Chaguaramus.

Medina Bay

This time we really enjoyed our stay in Trinidad,  the weather was cool,  but just being here with the friendly locals was wonderful.  We got together with friends who we last saw in St Maarten.  Di and I went for a hike into  the hills.  Dave had to buy some spares, bought 2 sets of shock absorbers for the drive shaft.    Watched Cricket!!!.  We were in Peakes marina for 10 days when there was a bad oil spill in the Chaguaramus bay, so this delayed us for another 2  days, till the oil spill was cleared.   We sailed overnight to Grenada and anchored in Prickly Bay for a week, watched a few  cricket matches on the T.V. in the bar.

04

Prickly Bay-Grenada

08  View to Marina - Budget

Left Grenada on the 29th for Los Testigos islands  and stayed 5 days, then sailed to Margarita again for 3 days.

012  Cubagua Fisher Family

Sailed to Cubagua island,  took Sheena to the beach  and gave some kids on the beach sweats, sugar and coffee.  We sailed back to El Oculto, stayed a couple of days and returned to  Puerto La Cruz on the 9th Feb, to the CMO Marina.

El Oculto Anchorage

El Oculto Beach and Christmas coral

The owner of this marina asked Dave to build a John Boat.  Dave built a plug out of marine ply, then made a mold and finished the first boat, which they tested on the waterway.  It was 24 foot long, but too big to fit on the plane so he had to cut it into 4 sections, and load it on the small plane and fly it to Arekuna in the jungle.

 Di and Les,  also arrived here in CMO and so the parties began.  Had a good party at CMO for Dave’s birthday.

For the Easter weekend  we decided to go to El Oculto with Kevin & Rene on Galadriel.   We had beach barbeques,  and perfect  weather. We all went across the bay by dinghy to the other beach, and climbed the hill.

I started working on the 2nd publication of the business directory.  Spent every morning walking the streets of Puerto La Cruz, Lecheria, the factory area, El morro, and the Marinas.  Back at the boat in the afternoons, and worked on the computer making ads.   We have very good friends here, Noeline & Tony who own a farm just outside Barcelona.  They have sheep and grow delicious oranges and sometimes bought oranges and lamb from them and spent a couple of weekends with them on the farm.

  In July I had the 2nd book published and  distributed. The  end of July, we went to La Boracha island  with Les and Di for a few days.  We just relaxed on the beach and swam, and Sheena swam a long distance from the beach back to the yacht.  We went for a hike up the hill  to the lighthouse,  quite a long, very enjoyable hike, and had some lunch at the light house  and  enjoyed the views.  It was a very hot day, and Dave came to fetch us at the beach.  He had caught enough fish, and so we had another fish barbeque on the beach.

  Another good Party!!!

 

 

  

Ezan’s 21st

On October 5th ,  it was Ezan’s 21st birthday party at CMO and 22 people attended, a fun good party, till  the early hours of the morning.

Rene - Di

A few farewells, friends leaving for the Pacific!!

The end of  October  we decided to go to La Boracha island again, for my birthday, any excuse to get out of the Marina.  Les and Di and Kevin and Rene also went to the island.    Dave & Les went fishing, and Di and I went snorkeling.     Stayed a few days and then returned to the marina.

 Because we have a dog on board, it isn’t always possible for both of us to just up and go travelling inland. Dave & I came to a compromise; I longed for a good hike, so decided to go to Merida, while he would stay in Puerto La Cruz and look after Sheena, our border collie.  Then he would go to the Angel Falls and Canaima, whilst I looked after Sheena.    We had been cruising for 5 years, and I often think of Cape Town and the beautiful mountains.

My plan was to stay up in the Mountains somewhere for at least 4 days, so I packed my large backpack and a day pack with snacks and padded jacket for the freezing bus ride. Feeling apprehensive about travelling alone, I boarded the 2pm Merida Express bus on the 12th Nov. at the terminus in downtown Puerto La Cruz.

001  Bolivar Square, Merida

Bolivar Square - Merida

I arrived in Merida at 7 a.m., and took a taxi to the town centre.  It’s a lovely setting for a university town, founded in 1558, and one of the oldest cities in the country.  Set on the edge of a ridge in the valley between the high peaks of the Andes Mountains, the town is long and narrow.

La Montana Posada - Merida

I walked to avenue 24 and found a very nice Posada (Guest House) La Montana’, where I booked a single room with its own hot shower for 11,000Bs, (15,000 for double), and hired cable TV. for 1,500 Bs.   I wanted to stay in town for 2 days to acclimatize, but I was told the teleférico was closing the following afternoon for maintenance.

003  Cable Car

At 6.30 a.m., carrying my 2 backpacks, I walked down to the cable car station, where a queue had already formed, and paid 7,500 Bs.   With “Maintenance” at the back of my mind, I boarded the cable car at 8:30am.  Merida is at 1,625 meters. above sea level, and the cable car route is 12Km long, stopping at  ‘La Montana’ at (2,436mts.),  ‘La Aguada’ at (3,452mts.), ‘Loma Redonda’ at (4,045mts.), the last station, ‘Pico Espejo’ at (4,765mts.), ‘Pico Bolivar’ on the opposite side is the highest peak at (5,507mts.).  At the altitude of Pico Espejo I thought I would not be able to breathe, but had no problems.  There was some snow and ice, but not as much as I had hoped to see.

Espejo Peak - 4,765 mtrs.

I went back down to the 3rd  station, ‘Loma Redonda’, and there I started the 18 km hike to the village of Los Nevados.  I was very pleased to do the hike in the dry season, the weather was warm and clear all day, and one could see forever.  There were about 10 people doing the hike.  Beautiful flora, (similar to that of Cape Town South Africa),  predominantly the South American flannel flower, “Frailejón”, which is a small, furry bush with thick, silver leaves and a beautiful bright yellow flower.  It’s a prolific grower at this height and is striking against the stony, grey landscape.   Many streams and small waterfalls crossed the path, which was sometimes very difficult, with loose rocks etc.

Lovely Flora!!!

Two hours from the end of the hike, I wished I just had a daypack to carry!!  I arrived in Los Nevados at 5pm: the hike took me 6 hours.  The others took 5 hours, but considering my two backpacks,   not bad!!.

View overlooking Los Nevados

I found accommodation at the Posada ‘Bella Vista’ overlooking a deep gorge with a river flowing down it.  Double bed, dinner and breakfast was 6,000 Bs.  Feeling extremely sore & tired, I was somewhat rejuvenated after a lovely hot shower and went to join the rest of the group for beers.  It rained all night, and was freezing –  fortunately wool blankets were supplied.

Up at 7:30 for breakfast, which was fresh juice, scrambled eggs & tomato, plenty of bread, cream cheese, strawberry jam, & coffee.  I managed a short walk round the place, and just relaxed and enjoyed the magnificent view. I was impressed that people grow crops, including delicious strawberries, on these very steep, terraced slopes at such high altitudes.  Another group of 6 people arrived by Jeep, in time for supper.

 The following morning after breakfast, I walked to the church, then started on the path, leading down to the river  – very steep and quite a long walk.  I crossed over the river, and walked up the other side of the valley, climbing all the way to beautiful views, then back to the river, where I spent a couple of hours –  so peaceful.

 

 Although most people only overnight here at Los Nevados, I spent 3 wonderful days and could have stayed longer, but had to move on.

 The Posada owner’s wife was going to Merida, 63Km., so I arranged to get a ride back with her in a small Jeep for 6,000Bs.  We left at about 8:30am, driving very slowly on the hair raising one-car width road with very steep drop off at the side.

The Jeep

 Back in Merida I returned to the Posada ‘La Montana’ which has it’s own restaurant – I can highly recommend the Trout Fish and Vegetable dish, only 2,500Bs.  They also serve a good breakfast.  The posada is central, within easy walking distance of all facilities.   Or you can catch a bus to the three-story  Principal market, where one can buy fruit and vegetables, and a variety of handcrafts, hammocks etc.

047  Merida - 9 Days

Merida is pleasant to visit and the people are very friendly.   After a lovely relaxing week in Merida and Los Nevados, I had to return to Puerto La Cruz  and dog-sit while Dave went on his own adventure!!!

The John boat was cut in 4 pieces, and flown to Arekuna, and then  Dave flew there for three days to fibreglass the 4 parts together again.

They were taken on a  tour of the area, and  flew over the Angel Falls, and Canaima Park, and walked under a waterfall.

Arakuna Camp

 On Dec.23rd we left the marina and motored to La Boracha Island, with Les & Di, and Joop & Martine.

Les, Joop, Dave, Martine

  Had a lovely evening  with Les & Di,  in La Boracha and the following  evening we sailed to Tortuga.   We anchored in Playa Heradura, and spent Christmas day in TORTUGA.   Les & Di were also going to go to Tortuga, but stayed a few more days in La Boracha and unfortunately he was bitten by a Vampire Bat and had to return to Puerto La Cruz and have injections over 7 days for Rabies.    Joop & Martine arrived on the 29th in Tortuga, and they had a few fish braais with us, and we had a Tai meal on board their boat.   Martine & I collected many shells, whilst  Joop & Dave went spear fishing.   Stayed till the 8th January, and  had a good sail back to the CMO marina.

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