by Jose Kevo
April 23, 2004
With everything clustered near Plaza Bolívar, ambling around the historic center was a peaceful, relaxing endeavor further complimented by shaded pedestrianized streets. True to Spain's Catholic influences, three churches dot the interior with The Cathedral, across from the plaza, more impressive as the country's oldest surviving church.
Begun in the late 1500's, the simple baroque interior from 1700's was a good introduction to these colonial masterpieces. Without typical ornateness, the plain cavernous interior was accented with wood - everything from carved chandeliers and polished slatted ceiling which create a distant canopy to simple benches below. Massive fortress-like wooden doors line the length; when opened providing breezes that set the candles' flames to dancing while filtered sun accents towering white walls.
Nothing overly impressive but certainly worth time for reflections while cooling off. Based on the structure's position, outer photos are impossible unless packing a wide- angle lens. Admission was free; there appeared no disapproval for entering wearing shorts.
Paseo Talavera runs along side the cathedral leading to a pair of art museums housed in restored colonial mansions. There's no entry fee but expect to be tracked down and brought back to the main hallway if you don't sign the guestbook. Both museums were currently displaying modern art exhibitions but I confess being more impressed with the architectural designs.
To the other side of the cathedral is Paseo la Alameda containing most of today's government branches in historically preserved buildings. The paseo is wide, lined with shaded benches; natural ambiance further created by winds rustling dried pods clinging to branches...random fallings more lazy than yourself melted into the overall experience.
Coro's significance and popularity draws scores of tourist buses; from where I've no clue, but exhaust fumes from them parked and running throughout downtown did little to improve a questionably polluted environment. Thankfully, they all cleared by 4:00 p.m. as had scores of vendors selling what appeared to be mass-produced local handicrafts for an expected upscale price.
Bordering east of downtown is Avenida Manaure; the primary bustling commercial strip of Coro. In addition to numerous eateries, banks, and other official agencies, you'll find department stores, shopping plazas and discount stores along crowded sidewalks stacked with street vendors. Side streets reveal the truths of Latin America with an appropriately seedy feel still safe for exploring.
Except for restaurants and bars, everything closes by 6:00 p.m. Before returning to the posada of a late evening, the highlight was definitely walking the abandoned cobblestone streets silhouetted by street lamps; a magical non-threatening experience that definitely registers the South American wild west feel...all to yourself.
Lonely Planet's city map of Coro suffices for getting around and easily pinpointing listings of places needed.
From journal Caresses from Coro's Touch of Class