In our life, we have a chapter called Los Roques! And for our blog, we have to go by parts, it is a lot and a lot of beauty to share. This is the first part of some that we write. The first time we went to Los Roques was a mixture of fear, excitement and dazzle… not necessarily in that order. When we started looking for the information, it was a little lost thing and many disparate information, this still in 2008. We will try to summarize (if this is possible) a little history.
We began researching in 2008, tried to go for the first time in 2009, but some thief stole our miles during 2009 🙁 and we had to postpone a little, just going at the first time in 2012. As it is known, Venezuela is in crisis for a long time and this crisis has created a very large currency trading market, so the first thing that made us want to go was just that: our money was worth a lot and still is.
When we started to check the rates, it was about 10 bolivares fortes to US$1, but we saw it was a very dark business, hard, but we decided to try, because this illegal exchange should be done at the airport with police watching you and maybe even arresting you … We closed all by email and calls via skype.
It would be 5 days to in total, but the big problem is that the TAM flight only arrived in Caracas late afternoon and the other flight bound for Los Roques only flew during the day. That was 2012. To get an idea of the black market and the Venezuelan crisis, in July 2014, it was 65 bolivares for US$1 and in June 2015 was already 250 bolivares for US$1!
Here comes the worst part of all: the flight from Sao Paulo to Caracas takes about six hours, tiring and tight (small seats), but with two meals!
Well, arriving in Caracas is that we saw why so much bad things on internet. The airport looks pretty scrapped, the luggage takes a long time to appear (when it appears). Immigration is a slow, lazy thing, we almost took an hour to get into the country. As we closed several contacts over the internet, there was a guy waiting for us and a few more, so we could spend the night in Caracas.
We went by van to the hotel, everyone quiet inside, since Caracas is the second most violent city in the world. After running some time (at night) by strange streets, we arrived in
paradise Catimar hotel! The old Catimar that’s where almost all tourists are taken, they only took you there and say the other day they take you to your flight to Los Roques (THIS INFORMATION WAS VALID UNTIL THE FIRST HALF OF 2014, IN OTHER POST , WE TELL THE CHANGES).
This hotel (chills only hearing the name), the attendant looks at us and says: your room is that number on the third floor, but the elevator does not work and after entering the room, NOT EVEN OPEN THE DOOR, OK ?! We thought, how wonderful, right? Let’s pray to get out of here alive. Well, that’s because we did not see that in the restaurant, you could not come armed, which means that the rest you could! Before going to sleep, we saw a fridge full of water to sell, and asked and “gently” the attendant said no, it was already closed! What do you mean? Well, it didn’t work, we climbed the stairs, locked to ourselves in the room, did not open to anyone and slept thisrsty!
Ah! We got money there, we were very happy to get 10 “moneys” (you never remember the name: Bolivar forte) for every dollar! Then we discovered that they were already paying 12 or 13.
The next day at dawn, at 4am, we were back to the airport. Once there, we checked in the Gran Pequeña Air Company, Chapi Air, one of which lead to Los Roques. Buying with them, the package is cheaper because the Acquamarina guesthouse has the same owner! The embankment would be made on the same runway. We weigh the bags and had to pay a little, since they only allowed 10 kilos per person. Yes, only this!
The best part was when we took a car to go to the runway. We arrived near a small plane and and they send a part to land, we were in the van died laughing to the personnel entering the dread face in a plane with 14 places! So stand walk about 15 meters and stopped near our: 8 passengers! : – | Dreadful.
dreadful takeoff, we were tired, we slept sat inside the plane. Almost an hour later, the show begins.
You begin to realize you meet the paradise! Arriving at the “airport” of Los Roques (to allow us to be so called), people were waiting for us with small carts (like those who drink couriers use in Brazil) to carry your bags to the lodge.
And a welcome sign!
You get to Los Roques bewildered. In Caracas, people in general are quite harsh, there is all this atmosphere of fear (worsened by the arrival night), then you almost die of fear in a tiny little plane (emphasis in micro size) and when you are there you can not even see due to the color of the water. And the heat? 30 degrees Celsius? What a 30 degrees Celsius!
We were led to our small inn, whom we expected by Juan Pablo (later became our friend, even though Argentine… hehe). He explains all the systematic and provides a welcome breakfast, because we were hungry for more than 10 hours without eating! After that, he just looks at you and says: change yourselves and go to the beach! Just like that!
And how is the beach? Well, two islands which are closer: Francisqui and Madrisqui are offered for free by the inn, that is, you go to the pier and catch small boats that take you to these two islands that are less than 5 minutes from the main island, Gran Roque. Other tours are much longer and payed, but well affordable!
Every time you go, they give you a “cava”, a cooler with its provisions for the day: breakfast, dessert, small snacks for the afternoon, water, soda and this time we had beer. Once there, the boatman and the helper unload everyone and all the junk: two chairs (as we were a couple), an umbrella VERY WELCOME, because the sun of Los Roques is to crack your head! Hot all day, no joke…
That first day, we found two Brazilian couples, we spent the afternoon with them (we were in the same hostel). We went to an island we do not remember the exact name now. We had some rain but lasted for 2 minutes and then there were already 30 degrees again.
In Los Roques, it is like this: that careless with the sunscreen, you are toasted! The water is warm and as much of these islands, is protected by an extensive barrier reef: it is very quiet and perfect for dipping.
The visibility is 100% in some areas, almost about 50 meters!!
There are many dogs in Gran Roque and several in the other islands, we’re not sure how they got there. What we have for granted is that they are treated well by the tourists who every day give them food, water and a little love returning their begging faces!
This is the beer that came for free inside the cava!
After spending the afternoon on the island, it’s time to go back! Everyone is praying for boatman not to forget the staff on the island, but they always appear, dismantle everything and you go back to Gran Roque. Returning, the hostel gives you a light snack and you can take a bath (water is desalinated, and there is little electric shower, but you can take a good shower, since heat is always intense).
At about 1930h (every day), the inns serves dinner, which like the cava, it’s kind pattern. An entree, you devour in seconds from hunger to spend all day on the beach, a main course (usually fish, rarely chicken and never beef) and dessert (always divine) all washed down with local soda and water!
It gets dark early, dinner is early, but some are overturned to stay the day in the sun and others enjoy the hostel, goofing off and being maimed by the millions of mosquitoes (yes, you need to spend thick layers repellent, sleep with a good mosquitoes repellent) and pray for the power does not end up in the night and they do not carry you out (every day the power is off, but the lodges have power generator and she soon back).
Closing the biiiiiig post of the first part. There are 50 some islands, some that you can go, others that are protected and are not visitable for tourists. Look at the little map of Paradise:
In the next morning, everyone is up at the same time, coffee is warned by a little charming bell, everyone eats at the same table and another day of great beach again. That was the picture of the folks we met at the inn, all beautiful, all good people and very happy!
This “small” post was to tell the adventure to arrive in paradise. And people ask me, worth it? The first time was 5 days, the second we were 10 (second trip, in 2014, during the Brazil World Cup) and we have plans to increase all the time, but a month at least is our goal in the paradise! Long live the Revolution (phrase you’ll see in MANY places in Venezuela!).
Have you ever been there? Are you willing to go? Do you know someone who went and said something peculiar? Leave comments for everyone see also, let’s go!! 😉