Campo Alegre

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  • Day63

    Week 9: City to desert to mountain farm

    May 7, 2017 in Venezuela ⋅ ☀️ 32 °C

    My plan was to leave Morrocoy and head to Merida in the Andes Mountains, but after my Dutch friend reccomended Coro, I thought I'd make a detour to check it out. Of course I was Hungover Monday morning and it was a bank holiday, so it took me all day to get there. Coro was the first capital of Venezuela, and the oldest city in the country, so it has rich colonial architecture. I explored the 'historical downtown' on Tuesday, full of colourful buildings, churches and cobbled streets, and met a local man Juan, who gave me a bit of a history lesson. Coro was nice, but really it was shit compared to most European cities I've   been to.

    Another famous place here is the 'Medanos de Coro', a unique desert right next to the city. Locally it is described as the mini-sahara, as there are enormous dunes of sand for miles, and nothing else. In the day it is dangerously hot and dry, so I went to visit in the evening with Elias (some cool taxi driver) and his niece. There is a road that goes through the middle of the desert, and within minutes of driving out of the city, there were huge dunes spilling over onto the road. We stopped and climbed up the largest one close to the road, probably about 50ft tall, and got a good view of the desert from the top. We just caught the sunset,  before the whispy clouds were lit up in flames of colour accross the sky, becoming more and more vibrant. I took some great photos then bum-surfed down the steep dune-side back to the road. Elias then took us to a place with fresh coconut, before buying food and heading back to my Posada.

    On Wednesday I thought I'd head through the desert again and into the Pamagua Peninsula. I got a shared taxi from the terminal (with 5 other locals) to Adicora, a sea-side town. After the dunes, the road continued through a vast desert; to our left a flat, dry, dead plain, and to out right, the sea and unattractive shoreline covered in washed-up plastic bottles and garbage. After an hour we reached Adicora, and I got out of the taxi. What a sad sea-side town. I don't know what I was expecting but I should have done my research. There was fuck-all to do and the place was dead. I walked around for an hour but was so hot and bored that I just went back to Coro. Of course that meant waiting an hour for a bus...

    So my plan was to take the overnight bus from Coro to Merida, a 12-hour journey that I could sleep off and arrive in the morning. But, at the terminal I found that every bus going in any direction towards Merida was full. A 12-hour journey turned into 26, as I had to get a bus to Maracaibo, sleep in the terminal with a hundred other people, miss the bus to Merida, go to Valera, and finally take the long ride through the mountains. The journey from Valera to Merida was really picturesque, on a winding road through many quaint towns, up into the mountains, above the clouds, and into cold grey weather like England, before descending down into the city of Merida. I made a friend on the bus, Yasneri, and chatted Spanish (poorly) with her most of the way. It was almost dark when we arrived in Merida, so we headed straight for a hostel I had found on workaway. This place was awesome, it had loads of character (and hammocks!), and I met the people who ran it, their friends, and others who were staying there permanently. I told the French owner Hugo that I wanted to volunteer the following week and he said anytime is cool.  First I had another volunteer week planned at a farm out of the city...

    I arrived at Bruni's 'farm' around midday on Friday, after a long walk through Merida, a cable car, and a bus ride. This place wasn't a farm, but a quaint (and quite large) family home tucked into the hillside on the edge of a small town in a mountain-valley. I was welcomed by an entire family and spent the rest of the day getting to know people and taking a look around. The place is beautiful, and very green, in a natural environment full of trees and plants. There is a large full garden at the top, and more tree-covered space accross 3 other tiers below. The family use the garden to grow fruit, vegetables and herbs, but it's just a supplement. I found out the reason I'm here is to help with maintainence and working towards Bruni's dream of running a small hostel/campground here. Bruni is the woman in charge, but really nice, relaxed and even speaks English! I also met Soy, a family friend who lives in the annex and makes and sells organic soaps, shampoos, creams and perfumes using ingredients from the garden. It just so happens that the next day was the 'fortnightly organic market', and she invited me along.

    We took a couple of buses far north of the city to a small garden centre type place (in the middle of nowhere) where we found the 'organic market'. There were only 5 stalls (including Soy's soaps) so it was really small, but everyone knew eachother and were really friendly, so I got introduced to the family. Suprisingly quite a few people turned up  accross the morning, but I didn't see most of it as I wandered off. Soy told me about a cool Botanical garden just down the hill, so I went and explored it. The gardens had all kinds of flowers, trees and ponds, and with a backdrop of the clouded Andes Mountains it was really scenic. Down near the river I stumbled accross a Canopying place, with alsorts of obstacles, ropes and  platforms high in the trees. Of course, I did the course and finished with a 100m zip line back into the garden.

    Sunday was my first day of volunteer work, and it was tough. I started early and spent a whole morning  on my hands and knees weeding the large overgrown garden. It was tough work under a hot sun, but when I'd finished it looked completely different. In the afternoon I went with Bruni and son Tomas to an annual charity event in the nearby town centre. There were old classic cars, bouncy castles, and tents with food and drink in front of a band on stage. I was introduced to lots of locals, had soup, and listened to the live music. It was a great way to end the week...
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Campo Alegre