Morrocoy National Park

After I wrote that last post, I immediately regretted it! I had just arrived in Chichiriviche and was feeling soooo tired and soooo sick. All I needed was a couple of days rest and recovery, which I got, and now I’m feeling a hundred times better. The whole point of enduring the mosquito ridden dump that is Chichiriviche, is to enjoy the magic of Parque Nacional Morrocoy. Morrocoy is absolutely the perfect place to chill out. It’s kind of Gilligan’s Island out on the cays. Pretty much the only thing there is, is fish and coconuts and youre stranded on the cay until your boat comes to collect you. I spent only two days there and went to two different cays: Cayo de los Pescadores and Cayo Sal. There are a whole lot more and you could easily spend days going to all of them.

Two days in Morrocoy was great, but I kind of overestimated my ability to sit on a beach and do nothing. I had originally booked seven days but quickly realised that that was insane. The funny thing is that I never go to the beach in Sydney at all and haven’t been in years, yet somehow I thought in Venezuela I’d want to sit on a beach for seven days straight. It’s always the same with the clothes too… I have a ton of clothes that I don’t wear but I always bring them along on my trip, just in case this is the time that I start to wear them again… I’m soooooooo “just in case”.

The best part of going to Morrocoy, and generally going to the beach in Venezuela, is the whole Venezuelan beach culture. You get your friends, you load up your esky with ice, rum, coke, beer, you get your music and you really have fun on the beach. You get completely smashed, you blast your music at Mardi Gras level… And no-one complains and no police come to arrest you or kick you off the beach. Then you get in a taxi to go home, completely drunk and still drinking, covered in sand… Not only does the taxi driver not mind, but he joins for a drink. This I like.

Anyway, two days in Morrocoy was more than enough and somehow the Venezuelan Christmas spirit took hold of me and I decided that I wanted to be among friends and eat traditional Venezuelan food (hallacas) after all. I was lucky that I was able to get transport back to Caracas. David, the guy that brought me to Chichiriviche was also able to take me back but only at 8 pm last night, after he had spent the whole day driving around. I’m generally not a nervous passenger, but… 

The drive to Caracas is about four hours. That’s four hours if you drive like a racing car driver. A good fifty percent of the road to Caracas is PITCH BLACK. You can’t see anything! Fortunately, there were very few other cars on the road. David sat on 120 km/h pretty much the whole way, with one hand on the wheel and with the other, texting and making calls. Not just quick 30 second texts, but he was texting for like ten minutes at a time. In order to ensure he wouldn’t fall asleep, he kept both windows open. The night wasn’t exactly warm to begin with and with the wind chill factor, it felt like about minus 70. All I could do was suck on a bottle of rum all the way to Caracas. I had planned to sleep on the way there, but felt that it was probably wiser if I kept an eye on him. Anyway, we arrived safely and in one piece and all was fine.

Here are some snaps from my two days in Morrocoy National Park.

Chilling in Chichiriviche

I just arrived in Chichiriviche this morning. I was hoping to spend a week having some alone time and just chilling but it seems that my chilling will instead be replaced with just having the chills (as in cold sweats). I’ve got some kind of flu. I hope it’s not Zika. I’m worried that I created bad karma with those jokes I made about Zika babies heads and it’s now coming back to haunt me.

Anyway, I can definitely use the “alone” time. As interesting and wonderful as the experiences of the last four weeks have been, the stresses and strains of it all are starting to take their toll. So much so that in the last few days in Punta Ballena, I was pretty much in permanent melt down mode. Ever since the 29th of November, I’ve been in a never-ending 24 hour a day Spanish Conversation class. In other Spanish speaking countries, I spent a lot more time by myself and also met other English speakers, so I didn’t feel the strain of it too much. Here in Venezuela, I’ve been with people for the most part of every day. Being around people in itself is exhausting and often the people haven’t really been from my “tribe”, so to speak. I’ve been very reliant on people who are not always so reliable. I’ve had the worst cough. I’ve been hobbling around on foot since jumping over the iron gate. I’ve spent the best part of two weeks running around the house filling up buckets and trying to find drinking water… AND THEN… To top it all off, the madness of this currency fiasco. Nicolas Maduro gave everyone 72 hours to get rid of their 100 bolivar notes, which they did and then he changed his mind. Now there’s no cash and the entire country is screwed.

It all came to a head last Sunday at Playa Parguito. A French Canadian woman by the name of Sylvie copped the brunt of my melt down. A couple of us decided to go to Playa Parguito. I wanted to see that beach anyway but the added bonus was that a bar there, creatively called “Beach Bar”, allowed it’s customers to swipe their debit cards at the bar in order to pay for the taxi home. Remember no-one has any cash any more. I needed to engage in more dollar criminality and Karen, the black market money dealer, was going to be there. So it seemed like a perfect plan. Karen, despite being French, is reasonably nice but she was with a about five other people who were French Canadians. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never liked French Canadians… English speaking Canadians yes, French Canadians no. If ever you’ve ever seen an interview with Celine Dion, to me, she comes across as a bit self important and egotistical and thinks she’s way more interesting than she actually is. These people were basically a bunch of Celine Dions, equally boring and unattractive but without the musical talent. Then another group of friends showed up… So we were three different groups but all hanging out together. It was one of those weird situations where the group didn’t really gel. There was no reason to be all one group but no-one wanted to be the one to suggest all doing our own thing.

A couple of the French Canadians, Sylvia and Mario, dominated the group. Mario is totally Celine Dion. He is extremely egotistical, constantly talks about himself, craves attention and bizarrely thinks he’s really funny and interesting. Sylvie is just your classic drunken, dumb, fat bitch. Unfortunately, I suffer fools terribly badly… I can fake interest for maybe five minutes but then it REALLY shows on my face. Sylvie and Mario though, are the type of people where everyone can be sitting around them, heads tilted back, eyes glazed over and swallowing their tongues but they still don’t get the message.

Finally it was time to go home. We supposedly had arranged a lift with another guy but he mysteriously disappeared. And then, the next thing I know is, I’m in a car with the two guys I came with, and Mario and Sylvie, headed off to Mario’s place. Suddenly, Sylvie turns around and bellows out “Why you don’t smile? What is wrong wiz you? I sink people who don’t smile is because zey don’t have good sex…”. And so it went on and on and on. Finally I suggested that the reason I wasn’t smiling may have something to do with the company I found myself in. The narcissistic Mario heard that, turned around and immediately threatened to throw me out of the car. I got scarred because not only were we in the middle of nowhere, we were in the middle of dangerous nowhere with no cash and no cabs. Scarred I’d be turfed out, I now was forced to suck up to the narcissist and the fat bitch. Once we got to Mario’s, she wouldn’t leave me alone… She just kept talking and talking and talking. As well as being drunk, she was now extremely stoned… So you can imagine what it was like trying to endure her.

I, by the grace of God, discovered a secret stash of 100 bolivar notes so we were able now to get a taxi and escape the clutches of the two French Canadians. We get in the cab and all of a sudden Sylvie gets in too and wants a lift home. Still, she wouldn’t stop. She was yabbering and bellowing on and on and on… But I had had enough by this time and let Sylvie know. I can’t remember everything I shouted at her but it included “Shut the fuck up. We’ve had enough of you”… Eventually Sylvie got out of the cab and all was fine. One of the things I love about Venezuela is that you can have a screaming match inside a cab and the taxi driver doesn’t even flinch. He just kept on driving. In Sydney, you’d be kicked out and the police called.

So yes, I kind of had mixed feelings about leaving the island. Sad in some ways but I also breathed a bit of a sigh of relief. I flew into Caracas last night and spent the night in Catia La Mar just close to the airport. My forty minute flight again turned into an eight hour ordeal. I was at the front of the check in queue but still the wait was over an hour long. Then the plane was delayed for over three hours. I arranged for a guy to come and pick me up and I was so paranoid that he’d leave and I’d be stuck in Maiquetia on my own in the dark, that I texted him every step of the way. I texted him when I landed and ten minutes later he texts me and asks me what is taking me so long. I’ve been here for three weeks and I’ve realised everything is SLOOOOOOOW. Yet a person who has lived here all his life is surprised that I wasn’t out the door ten minutes after the plane touched down.

As I said, I arrived in Chichiriviche this morning… Chichiriviche is really only a gateway town. It exists only because of Morrocoy National Park and as such, there isn’t really a lot here. I knew this and had kind of accepted it in my head. Nevertheless, I did have a bit of shock when I arrived. I know I’m sick and grumpy, but I’m just going to call a spade a spade here. It’s a dump. And a dodgy, dirty dump at that too. The mosquitoes here are the most vicious blood thirsty monsters you’ve ever encountered. The only mosquito repellant they had here effective enough was to burn jars of petrol that gave of big black fumes. Yeah we got rid of the mosquitoes for a while but the petrol fumes weren’t fun.

Anyway, I’ll have a look at Morrocoy National Park tomorrow. I might feel better about it. Otherwise I might head back to Caracas early. I walked down to the sea this afternoon and this sign kind of summed it up for me…