Tuesday, July 28, 2009

La Playa

This weekend, we hit la playa, the beach. Now, this probably isn't what you're imagining, taking a short ride to the beach, no the beach here was 12 HOURS AWAY by bus. The place that we went was called Chichirivichi, pronounced chee-chee-ri-bee-chee. It's a mouthful, I know.

So the bus ride was absolutely miserable. Forget being comfortable, don't even THINK about sleeping. In twelve hours, I probably got about thirty minutes of uninterrupted sleep. That's all. We did see lots of strange and dinky bus stops and gas stations, and found out that pretty much all of Venezuela outside of Merida stinks like shit. No joke.

However, it was worth it, once we got to Chichirivichi. The day that we got to the beach, Friday, was a holiday, so there was a huge amount of traffic into Chichirivichi, and there is of course only ONE access road into this town. That meant big traffic. So we were stopped in traffic for at least another hour, but it felt like five.

So for hours we had all been talking about taking showers once we got to our posada. Nice cool showers with clean water, and then being able to escape into the heaven that is Air Conditioning in our rooms. Our dreams were never realized, however. When we got to our first posada, we got the very unpleasant surprise that not only was there no functional A/C or electricity, but no water either.

Needless to say, most of us were pissed. It was eleven in the morning, none of us had really slept, we were dirt, sweaty, hungry, and cranky, and then we were given the news that we couldn't even take a shower. Damn.

So we sucked it up for a while and were promised by the owner that by the time we got back from the beach that day, we would have electricity and water again. We grabbed our suits, sunscreen, and towels and headed into the town.

First we stopped for some lunch at a little place that sold fresh empanadas and Nestea. I had a fish empanada and a chicken empanada, both of which I swear must have been the most delicious thing I had ever tasted. I was also so parched from the busride that I drank two full Nesteas like I had just escaped from the desert.

After we let our food settle a little, we made our way to the docks to go to the beach.

A piece of information to clarify: There are no good beaches IN Chichirivichi, they are all islands off the coast of Chichirivichi. So to get there, one has to contract a boat driver to drive you out there and back.

When we got into the boat, I felt completely overwhelmed by the beauty that I encountered. Not only was the water turquiose, but it was WARM. It was actually... warm. Coming from Minnesota, the land of frozen waters, this was a very, very welcome surprise for me.

So we made it to the island, and the name escapes me, but it was beautiful. The sand was colored cream, and was soft to the touch. It wasn't coarse at all. And the water was cool enough to be refreshing in the 95 degree weather, but still warm enough to be comfortable.

We played in the water for what seemed like hours, tossing a volleyball around between us, or diving under the water to see what we could find. I felt like a little kid again, discovering the beach and all of its wonders for the first time.

After a while, we got out of the water to relax in the shade. A man selling ceviche came by and I bought one to share with a friend. Simply, ceviche is seafood cooked by the acidity of lemon juice and it therefore preserves its fantastic texture. There were shrimp, scallops, octopus, and squid in this delicious lemony goodness with a tangy tomato sauce on top. Delicious!

So we played a whole lot of volleyball, in the water and on land, and then discovered this lagoon inside the island. It reminded me of being on Star Island on Cass Lake, a lake inside a lake. This was a salt lagoon, and trust me it was EXTREMELY salty. It was also really hot. The water had to be at least 150 degrees. It was so hot, I could only stand about ten minutes in it.

So later on, when the sun was starting to go down, we headed back to our posada to find that there was NOOOO WATER OR ELECTRICITY. We were all dirty, sweaty, and pissed, so two people from our group went to go find another posada to stay at while we bummed around the pier.

Luckily, the place that we ended up staying was five million times nicer than our first place, so good thing for that.

That night, my friend Rich and I went down to the pier to check things out, and it was going crazy. Since there are no bars or discos in Chichirivichi, people get their party on by parking their cars in the parking lot and bumping music through their HUGE speakers. The pier was packed, so we walked down people watching until we found a street performer that was a flame thrower. We watched for a while and eventually he wanted a volunteer to show off his skills with.

The unlucky "volunteer" was a woman from the audience that was VERY reluctant to join him on his "stage". He pulled her on stage though, and started to do a routine where he swung his fireballs around her body and face. And then it happened... something went wrong and his fireball HIT HER IN THE FACE.

She ran off stage with soot on her face to her friends that were watching her from the sidelines. All I can say is that luckily her boyfriend or brother wasn't there, or else it would have gotten a lot uglier.

The next day we got up bright and early to check out another beach called Callo Sol. It was much smaller than the other one, and all things considered, in my opinion much better than the first. The sand was softer, the water was bluer, and the swimsuits smaller. Well, not so much on the last one, but they were pretty small.

The waves were insane. Every five minutes or so, really large waves would come in that you either had to dive into, or jump with, so that you didn't get taken under or away with them. I felt like a five year old again, discovering how fun the water can be. We stayed in the waves for hours at a time it seemed like, diving and jumping and riding waves.

After we left this beach, we went back to our posada to clean up and relax a little in the shade.

That night we all went out to find some food, but I wasn't feeling the idea of a restaurant, so a friend and I snuck away to get some real street food, which I must say was a fantastic idea. Fan-tastic. We got shishcabobs with chicken, steak, and sausage on them, served with a salad made of chopped arepa, a fresh salsa, and salsa amarillo.

It was some of the most delicious food I have had here in Venezuela. the meat was perfect, the flavor was amazing, and best of all, it was fast and really cheap. REALLY CHEAP. For one meal, it was a mere ten Bolos, which is less than two dollars USD.

So that night we partied with the locals and hung out on the pier some more. The next day was already Sunday, which meant it was time to get on that godforsaken bus again to go home.

We left at noon, thereabout, and didn't get home until well after one in the morning. The busride, yes, was absolutely terrible, but the weekend was amazing. Absolutely amazing. If I could live on the beach forever, and never leave, that would make me one happy girl.

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