Las Calaveras

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1 travelers at this place

  • Day65

    Week 10: Volunteer life on a local farm

    May 9, 2017 in Venezuela ⋅ ☁️ 23 °C

    I had a great week living with the family and helping out around the farm. I'd be up early and  working hard most mornings; gardening, clearing, labouring, digging, painting or whatever else there was to do. The jobs were made enjoyable by the natural beauty of this place, good weather, and of course some music. Typically I would finish in the late afternoon and relax for the evening before an early night.

    The week started with heavy work. Monday I finished some 'hands and knees' weeding, before starting to clear the other overgrown garden with a machete and shears. Tuesday I met Gualo, a cool young friend of Bruni's, and together we dug a large metre-deep square hole for building foundations for a water tank. We really got on, and after working we went into town for a beer. It turns out he is also a mountain guide and he wants to take me up the Andes. Perfect.

    Wednesday I finished destroying all the plants and clearing the garden area, as well as helping a builder with construction; digging foundations, moving materials, carrying iron bars and such. I was painting in the house all of Thursday (doors, gates and window frames) and Friday worked with Gualo's younger brother moving bricks and cement. In the week I spent time bonding with the family also, particularly at mealtimes and in the evenings, and also went with Bruni on supply-trips and to a local town, Tabay. I even played videogames with the son Tomas, watched sustainable  agriculture documentaries, and talked music, spanish and culture with Raul, the grandfather. However, the best day for me was Saturday...

    Bruni and some women from the local primary school had organised for a community action-day working on improvements for the school. We were the first to arrive, and early, but by midmorning nearly 40 people had turned up! We had Latin music playing on big speakers, and groups of people all around the school working together on different tasks. I was with Gualo and a few other guys doing the hard labour; moving rock and dirt with spade and pick-axe to create garden space. It was great to be part of a community happily volunteering together, and of course the setting was beautiful and the weather incredible.

    We worked all day, then I collected my bags and said goodbyes to the family, as I headed back to Merida city in the evening. I arrived back at the hostel where to my suprise, Maycon (my friend from the Orinoco) had also arrived earlier that day. I had reccomended the place to him the week before, but didn't expect to see him! Although tired, we bought a crate of beer and got drunk with Hugo, the hostel owner, and went out to some bars, where we drank too much with some locals... Expectedly, our first full day in Merida was spent Hungover, but Me and Maycon got out and walked around the city. We walked all around the city, and even through protests, checking out different places. We came accross some tour agencies in the centre, and met Tony, a crazy Venezuelan local guide and outdoor/animal expert who spoke English. We talked for an hour or so, and planned some cool stuff for what would be an awesome week ahead...
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  • Day56

    Week 8: Caracas to Carribbean Morrocoy

    April 30, 2017 in Venezuela ⋅ 🌙 18 °C

    Week 8 started slow. Sunday was spent feeling Hungover and lying on Nathan's couch watching football. We did eventually get out, and went to a cool rock bar for food, football (el classico), and more drinks... We played pool into the evening before going to an awesome steakhouse with Joel's family.

    The plan for the week was to get to the Morrocoy National Park (on Venezuelas Carribean coast) as soon as possible, but i needed Monday to recover and research. I went round to Nates in the evening and cooked a spicy pasta dish, and ended up crashing of his couch again although I'd promised Sergio I would stay at his place. So, the next day I went round to Sergios, and we went on a bit of a tour around downtown Caracas. It was great to get out and see some of the city centre with a local, which was a suprisingly nice place. We walked around all afternoon in a huge loop, visited a friend, and didn't get back until dark.

    Wednesday morning, and i still hadn't left for Morrocoy. I had left some things at Joel's so me and Sergio took the long walk through a busy afternoon in protest-filled Caracas to get there. There were National guard everywhere, riot police and a lot of angry people in stand-still traffic caused by roadblocks. It was hectic to say the least, and motorbikes were using the pavements like they were highways, so even being a pedestrian was chaos! Anyway we arrived late at Joel's and watched the sunset over the city (with the Macaw's) from the roof of his building, and of course beer in hand. We went down the road for a Chinese wiyh sara, who after drove us to some empty restaurant for drinks. There Kelly joined and we started knocking back cuba-libre's (triple rum and coke) like they were water. The group kept growing and became a party when we all went to Sara's place for drinks and music. The last thing I remember was leaving the macarena to throw up in the sink...

    So I woke up on Joel's couch Thursday morning to one of the worst hangovers I've had. I convinced myself I could make the journey to Morrocoy but after standing up and still feeling drunk, it was back to sleep for me. Even when I finally got up in the afternoon I could barely function. In was my third failed attempt to leave Caracas, and I started to think I was never going to leave. However, after Joel returned from work (I don't know how he does it!) we relaxed and watched 'walk-hard', before an early (alcohol-free) night in preparation for my travel the next day.

    Friday, I FINALLY left Caracas. I didn't actually mind because I had an awesome week, but it was good to be back on the move again. I took a complicated 3-bus journey starting at 7am from a busy capital bus-terminal, but arrived in the coastal town of Chichiriviche by 2. This gave me time to find some cash, which took a while, and I found a licor store who swapped my dollars for the cash I needed. I headed to the harbour where I met a rogue boat-tour guide; Antonio. There was only a couple hours of light left so we went to the nearby island of 'Cayo Sal'. White Sands, crystal clear turquoise water, towering palm trees, and the low sun reflecting  off the calm sea. I felt like I was in the Caribbean (which I actually was) and got trigger-happy with my camera. Me and Antonio got to know eachother a bit, but he spoke way too fast so understanding was limited. He and his friends took me back to town and we made a plan for the following day...

    Saturday was the big boat-tour. Me and Antonio set off at 8am with grey windy weather and VERY choppy water. We were in a pretty small boat and had to battle with huge 20ft waves for about 20 minutes. Antonio was just going straight over and into them at full speed, so we had to hang on tight. It was rough, but once we'd got behind a few islands the water was calm. Our first stop was some random clear shallow water known for starfish. I dived in and brought one up to the surface, it was at least twice the size of my face, and looked incredible. After some photos we threw it back and continued to a couple other shallow water spots, mangroves, and island beaches.

    Antonio had assured me that the weather always improves during the day, and he was right. He dropped me off at Cayo Sombrero (the most famous island) around midday; the cloud had disappeared and the morning sun shone bright and hot. First I walked around the beautiful coastline with my camera, and found a huge reef on the quite side. I had all the gear from Antonio so I went Snorkeling for about 2 hours. It was incredible; the water warm, clear and blue, the corals colourful, and the fish plentiful. I must have seen a hundred different species of tropical fish, and took some great photos with my gopro...

    After Snorkeling I continued down the beach to the busiest section. There were loads of people (almost all Venezuelan on a 'weekend get-away'), fancy yachts and music. I bought a Piña colada and found another great spot for Snorkeling. There was also a tent where a couple were frying freshly caught fish so I bought a meal with salad and platano, which was incredible. Antonio picked me up in the boat late afternoon and we crashed through some immense waves, where i was almost thrown overboard, on our way back to Chiciriviche. I found another shop to change dollars, bought some beer, and later met Antonio for dinner. We ate and went down a 'evening market' strip on the shore, full of Souvenirs, food and music. We chilled and drank beers whilst listening to music blasted out of the back of some pimped up cars with huge speakers.

    Sunday was the shorter boat-ride (paseo corto) around the inside of Morrocoy, this time with Antonio's cousin, Jose. We went to a Boat-wreck, through mangrove tunnels, and visited some incredible caves. Morrocoy has a huge tree-lined cliff-face straight into the water, and there are a few enormous amphitheatre-like open caves, over a hundred feet tall and deep, with vines and other fauna hanging dramatically all the way to the ground. After exploring them I was dropped at Cayo person, another beautiful and very small island. There weren't many people here and it was tranquil, but I met an English-speaking Venezuelan/Dutch man and his Dutch friend. They were cool, we chatted for ages and they invited me to their place for beer and BBQ later that Night. 

    After visiting yet another beautiful island and meeting more Venezuelans, I went back to the hostel to get ready. On my way to their place, I bought rum and a bottle of coke, but after 20 minutes searching (in the dark) and getting help from locals, I couldn't find the house. I was probably in thw wrong place and didn't even have their number, so I headed back to town a bit gutted and got some Street food. Then, by coincidence Antonio walks past. We get a flask, some ice, and start drinking the rum down by the shore with 2 of his friends. It's a similar setup as the night before with cars playing music and loads of people around. We finish the bottle in about an hour, and head to some wierd empty bar, where we drink more. The next morning I'd feel like shit once again..
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Las Calaveras