We've recently returned from a wonderful trip to Margarita. In our short
experience, We found Venezuela to be a beautiful country full of delightful people. We were totally charmed and are already looking forward to going back. I thought we'd share some of our experiences and thoughts and hopefully
inspire anyone who is considering a visit but may have been put off by the
ever changing political situation. And as further testiomony, we were having
such a good time, we wound up extending our stay for a few days even though
it meant spending an extra night near the airport in Caracas!
We arrived on the island Sunday, March 23 a day later than anticipated due
to an Aeropostal cancellation. I had arranged to have Walter meet us at the
airport on Saturday, our original arrival date - and due to the chaos at the
airports both in Miami and Caracas, I was unable to call him to make him
aware of the change. He was one step ahead, however. When we arrived at our
hotel outside Caracas, I saw a note from Walter pinned up behind the
reception desk. (He probably knew where we were staying even before we did!)
Suffice it to say, it was a nice and welcoming touch and we arranged to meet
at the MI airport the following morning and did so without incident. Thanks
So, half expected, Aeropostal is a little less than a tightly run ship - but
they arrranged for our transportation and accomodation and we spent the
night in a dubious part of Venezuela without any threat or major discomfort.
We stayed at LagunaMar - through RCI. Due to the low occupancy and Walter's
help, we were upgraded from a junior to a senior suite. Large bedroom, large
living room, 2 full bathrooms with a wraparound balcony looking out over the
ocean. A bit worn and sparsely funished but with all the amenities we needed
to be very comfortable.
The LagunaMar property is very large and has plenty of different recreation
areas to suit many different desires. The weather was absolutely perfect -
never a cloud and a perpetual breeze - cool enough at night, especially in
the AC of restaurants and casinos that I always brought a sweater.
For the sake of convenience and the incredible price, we did purchase the
all-inclusive package. A great deal if you drink alot of mixed drinks and
priceless for the convenience. When we first arrived, only one restaurant
was open for breakfast and dinner, the Italian one - and then the beach
front grill and a snack bar were open for lunch. The food in all was ok.
good but not great - but the service was impeccable. This was across the
board, from the bellmen, to the front desk staff, to housekeeping,
restaurant staff, etc. A noticible difference from some other islands we've
visited where tourists are grudgingly tolerated. The island, it seemed to
me, was very conscious of the fact that the revenue generated by tourism was
incredibly important to its economic future. I felt genuinely welcome on the
island. As if the residents were pleased to show off and share their gem of
This seemed to be the case throughout the rest of the island, also. We
probably spent the greatest amount of time outside LagunaMar in Porlamar.
Which is just a typical city. Taxis are cheap and readily available - **one
note on taxis - agree on the price ahead of time and try to have bills of
small denominations - as the drivers often had no change(we doubted the
sincerity of this on occasion) and most taxi rides we took were in the
neighborhood of 3-5000 bs. so 5000 bs. is a big tip! Note on changing $$ -
The posted rate is 1600Bs to the dollar. Make friends, subtly ask around and
you can be sure to do it under the table for 1800 if not 2000.
We rented a car one day and drove all over the island. Had an incredibly
pleasant lunch in Playa el Agua where there is a span of gorgeous beach
lined with bars and restaurants. It had a sort of sophistocated european
shabby chic about it. Again, we were charmed.
But true love began on the flight to Canaima National Park. Once again,
arranged by Walter, thanks! In addition to seeing beautiful vistas of VE
from the air, I had the pleasure and priveledge of of spending a few hours
on the ground and in the water of one of the most physically and spiritually
beautiful places I've ever seen. I could write pages on this, but as I'm
already running on, I'll save that for another time and place. If you are
able, I highly recommend this trip. Angel's Falls itself was a bit
underwhelming due to it being the dry time of year - but the other sights,
sounds and sensations of Canaima were fantastic! I wish I'd been able to
spend more time there as well.
In short, I had a wonderful and inspiring trip.