Category Archives: Venezuela 2013

Scuba Diving in Margarita!

?????????????I did some research before heading out to Margarita about scuba diving there. There wasn’t that much information but I was able to find the worthwhile sites I wanted to visit if location permitted. I also emailed the two school recommended by PADI, but only got a response from one, which is the operator I decided to go with. Now, in this blog post, I do not want to focus on the disaster of services we got, because in the end solutions were found and it was OK, but overall it was a very big disappointment. I guess because I had a cold it worked out for the best in a way. October is low season in Margarita, so I would have thought that finding staff and boats to go diving would not be so problematic. Anyway, I ended up going diving with my partner while he was doing his OPEN water certification.

The site is called Farallón and is recommended for beginners, as maximum depth is 10m. There are not a ton of coral reefs but still lots of fish, spider crabs and we saw two big french angels. Also, there is a submerged Virgen del Carmen that you can see underwater. She is meant to protect the coastal waters of Venezuela. There are actually two, one has been there since the 1970s, but coral and plants have taken over her and you cannot even tell the statue is there. The other one, is much taller and you can clearly see her underwater, like in the picture here.??????????????????????????

Next time, however, I definitely want to go back to a site called Los Roques (a small little island near Margarita where you take a flight to get to it, which is meant to be THE BEST for diving in Margarita).

El Avila, a beautiful day hike

So you would think Caracas is only a big city on the Caribbean coast, right?

IMG_3787IMG_0434WRONG.

Caracas also has its natural escapes within the city. One of these is The Avila National Park. It is a great way to escape from the noise and craziness of the big capital. There is a Gondola that can bring you up and down the mountain, BUT the best part is to HIKE up! The highest point is at 2740m above sea level, so you only go up and up and up! It is not only a great workout, but has wonderful views and once you are at the top, you can see all Caracas, as well as the turquoise water of the Caribbean.

There are also campsites and you can take a few days to hike around. However, if camping, bring A LOT of water because there are some points where you cannot find any.

We did one day, about 18km and 8h30mins to the top. There were butterflies everywhere and many different types of birds. We took the gondola back down and soon enough the noise of cars and the city were back. It really was a beautiful escape and it felt like we had been there more than just a day!

Also, it is recommended to go to the National Park with someone who has already been or who knows the way. There are no indications or routes or arrows to show the way, and so it would be very easy to get lost.

Venezuela, a special place

IMG_0422 IMG_3823Out of all the places I have traveled in Central and South America, I never set foot in Venezuela. Well, except a 20hour lay-over in Caracas back in 2009, during which I stayed in the airport because it was a dangerous city. Well, it still is not the safest.

Of course recent political events have made Venezuela a country where imbalances are part of the everyday. At the first hotel we stayed at in Margarita (Hesperia Playa El Agua), people talk about Chavez and politics in the pool, on the beach, and everywhere people make a quick joke or comment, talk about it in taxis or in restaurants. The division between the rich and the poor is one that is significant. Normally, the poor are those who are “chavistas”, and they get many benefits: a house, medical, benefits if you are pregnant etc. And the rich,

obviously do not like this and are not for socialism. However, I am not going further into this discussion.

Rather, let me tell you a bit about the few shocking this I have noticed during the trip that I believe are worth mentioning:

Let me tell you about the currency here, it is something like I have never heard of, and even Venezuelans say it is a nightmare. The black market for currency is un

believable. The tourist that travel to Venezuela, and decide to get “bolívares” before coming here, will get one exchange rate (1US=6.3 bolivar as of today, Oct 10th if you check XEconverter). However, when you get to Venezuela, you can get/buy different rates for your dollar. When my partner was here in February, he got a rate of 1US= 17 bolivar. Now, as we are here, the rates have been 1US=40-42 bolivar. If you do a quick math, it does not take you a long time to realize the inflati

on and the problems that this is bringing.

Another thing worth mentioning is the prices of gas. Now, this one here is hard to believe but let me tell you, it is true. Prices have been frozen for about 17years now. Well, it is the cheapest gas in the world: they pay US$0.09 PER GALLON!!!

Here is a reference for those who cannot believe it. And also a picture I took when we put 22.8 L. in the car.

IMG_3824(http://runrun.es/economia/43576/venezuela-la-gasolina-mas-barata-del-mundo-por-henkel-garcia.html).

This means you can fill up your toyota 4runner with about 1$US!!!!!

This also means that they do not really have good public transit in the city of Caracas, because it is so cheap to have a car, that everyone has one! Now, just imagine the traffic that there is in that city of 3 million something people.

Well, this is about all for now!