Thursday, March 17, 2011
Two vans transported us around Margarita Island, Venezuela. We were surprised at how large it is, three times bigger than the ABC Islands (Aruba, Bonaire or Curacao). There are 250 islands of Venezuela, and Margarita is the largest.
We didn’t drive very far to La Restinga Lagoon where boatmen were waiting to load five of us in each boat.
The day was perfect as our boatman guided the boat to spots he was pretty sure to find something of interest.
The first thing we noticed were oysters at the water line clinging to branches of the mangrove trees.
The mangroves provide a haven for many water organisms to develop and support the ecosystem. Next the boatman picked up a starfish for us to examine. There were many all along the shore.
An egret was standing at the shore and didn’t seem at all disturbed as we positioned ourselves to take its picture
. That’s the closes I’ve come to an egret in the wild. Pelicans, herons
and cormorants made their appearance.
But we really got excited to see an eagle perched high in a tree.
It sat there for the longest time surveying the scene and watching us from above. It was a very satisfying experience and I know the bird watchers among us were delighted.
Our next stop was to a private museum started by a couple of collectors.
They must have collected everything in sight, because there were rooms with wood carvings, musical instruments, religious articles, fishing equipment, an old deep sea diving tank, and household furnishings. A general store had an ancient cash register and an assortment of groceries including a box of Old Fashion Quaker Oats. A guide demonstrated how the juice was extracted from the sugar cane and an antique still was part of the collection. A musician played his guitar and sang for us while we had a fruit drink with or without spirits, which I think was rum, since sugar cane is a plentiful crop.
The property included a small church with a little altar and fresh flowers. It was a a fun place to explore to see things of long ago. Some school groups were learning about them also.
We drove to a restaurant right on the Caribbean with waves curling up to the shore.
Our menu was rather strange: a cold seafood plate for our salad and a cooked seafood plate for our entrée. Just about everything in the cold plate was in the hot plate with cooked potatoes and chunks of cooked fish. But the assortment was impressive: shrimp, clams, squid, calamari, and snails are what I could identify; there might have been others. A couple of cold tap beers were a refreshing accompaniment.
We had a rather long drive to the Fortress Santa Rosa that was called a castle, but no royalty ever lived in it. A point of interest was a cell that held Louisa de Arismaendi captive when her husband who was accused of being a traitor couldn’t be found.
Today our guide was too talkative, non-stop. He was excited about Margarita and Venezuela, but after a while I got tired listening,
Before dinner was the Captain’s Farewell Party, and this time it was for us. We attended all the farewell parties ending each segment, and finally it is our turn to bid farewell. We still have a few more days to go, but the parties are scheduled when people are not too stressed with packing on the last days.