Went back to the restaurant w/ American Special breakfast down from hotel. Fredi, hotel manager, arranged to have lady come by and exchg US $$ 8:1. She came just when we were planning to go get the ferry, oh well! We went ahead w/ $200 US each. As it is turning out if we used the official (thru ATMs/banks) rate travel here would be on par with Brazil, but the black market exchg puts it at an affordable, Bolivian cost level! Just missed the noon ferry however, so had to wait for the 2pm slow ferry...cheaper mainly due to our advanced age, ha! This 'over 60' thing is really working out here in Venezuela, they even let foreigners into places at reduced or even free rates! Journey to Isla Margarity was most pleasant until the screaming of Venezuelan little boy nearly put me over the edge!
On Isla M. at ferry terminal (we arr in the dark!), we get a bus to Porlamar plaza and then walked in the direction of LP suggested Hotel Malecon, now called Hotel Nueva Puerta. It's down empty streets (they roll up the streets after 7:30) some 6 blocks, a fellow comes out and warns us of the danger here...very comforting! Anyway, we find this place 120b for aircon but only the water in the cold shower works, none in sink or toilet! Back into low budget travel officially I guess.
First thing we moved to new digs...Hotel Juan Pescador near Plaza Bolivar...if it had been still light yesterday when we arrived we might have come here to begin with...just 2 blocks from where we got off bus!
Went to oldest Fort here, 1662...then to El Agua beach (see pic of sandcastle making)...very long but not as busy as you'd expect, over half the businesses were closed and I saw quite a few 'for sale' signs. It looks very much like tourism has dropped off greatly in past 3 yrs since LP was written). We've seen very few big bldg projects and some that looked abandoned and one huge resort totally new looking but shuttered and weeds growing up all around. Went to Manzanillo Beach just a hopskipjump from El Agua beach via por puesto, a bus-like taxi but costs more than bus since more frequent. This beach is totally different scene, small, no surf, and quiet bay w/ fishing boats...see pics.
Went to a very economical, 'setplate' meal place recommended by Nancy, mgr. at Hotel Juan Pescador, buffet-like but choices limited to 1 meat 1 salad plus rice and beans and soup...Bon got 2 salads instead of meat...all for less than $5 US (black mkt exchg rate).
Saw on TV that Chavez has declared war on CocaCola...we see only Pepsi in most establishments. Went to a very new, large mall and it seemed to be devoid of customers, but then it was only noon on a Monday. In afternoon we headed out to W. end of island and La Restinga. La Restinga
. Saw 9 different birds incl. grey and white herons, sea eagle as well as frigates, pelicans, and 4 kinds of shallow water birds. The mangroves (red-largest w/roots growing down, black w/ roots up, and white) are quite amazing here, fully protected. On the spit we found few people but tons of shells, mostly small but piles, and piles of them. This has been a Natl Park since 1974! Still, they fish alot in this area. Since this is not an eve place, everything closes by 8, it is very weird from what we have adjusted to in Braz, Chile, and Urug where things are usually just getting started at 8pm.