Getting settled

Dollars to Bolivares or “B”‘s as they are known here.  Here is a great economic story for the kids.  The Venezuelan inflation was so bad, the previous exchange rate was 5000 bolivars to the American dollar.  That was a bit unhandy in the money changing department.  Cruisers have great stories about getting work done in Venezuela and having to pay in suitcase full of “B”s.  So the government here decided, “We don’t need those extra 0′s” and loped off the last three.  5000 Bolivars became 5 Bolivares Fuerte.  Didn’t change the exchange rate, just made it handier.  Unfortunately, there is still some of the old currency floating around out there so you need to be careful. 

The best exchange rate is on the black market, where discretion is important.  Salt and Light and us took a taxi into town to a very nice clothing store where we did our dollars to Bolivares.  The rate, at that moment, was 4.5 to 1.  Not bad.  A few weeks ago it was 7 to 1, until American dollars began flooding the market and the rate dropped.  A perfect lesson for our kids as we have been discussing supply and demand in our homeschool economics class. 

Fortified with our new money, we some shopping at an outdoor market, selling mostly clothes, at great prices.  We were looking for Halloween costume ideas.  Tristan and Liam decided to go as CIA and FBI agents, so all we needed to buy were hats.  Tessa couldn’t decide between a rock star and a genie and kept going back and forth so much my head was hurting.  After shopping we met Independence (Jennie, Otis, Sam and Ben) at McDonalds for lunch and playtime.  Ordering at McDonalds here is different as you order in one line then move to another. We didn’t get it, and even though it was PACKED, everyone was very nice to us and helped us get into the proper lines.  I forgot to mention how we get around.  In Grenada, we all have fond and some not so fond memories of the public bus costing 2.50EC per person 1.25 per child.  We would pay equivalent in American dollars about $3.00 altogether.  Here it is $10 Bollivares, in a car to ourselves, with airconditioning.  Exchange rate?  About $2.00 US Dollars.  Cost?  Priceless!!!!!!!

Porlamar, Margarita Venezuela

   Concerns about being in Venezuela waters without officially checking in, lead us to head to Margarita.  We had a great motorsail over, caught a Mahi Mahi, and a fish called a Tunne (Florida Bonito).  Great day.  We arrived around 2:00pm and called Juan at Juan Marina. He is the agent that is supposed to make your checking in easier.  He told us it was too late today, but see him first thing in the morning.  Furuko, and Independence were also in the harbor.  We met up with Independence and they took us to a  great beachside bar with cheap (5o cent) cold beers, platters of oysters, shrimp, and a shrimp, oyster mix that is just incredibly delicious. 

The anchorage here is very different.  You are anchored in a bay surrounded by high rise hotels, some nice, some in need of repair.  We aren’t use to seeing so many lights at night.  The people so far seem very nice. Tomorrow we will head into town for some shopping.

 

 

 

   Little Tunne  (Florida Bonito)

 

 

 

Los Testigos

  Ok, what and where are the Testigos.  Testigos means “Witnesses” and are located north of Venezuela mainland.  The islands are inhabited by about 160 people, mostly fishermen. 

We were moving a little slow the next morning.  After a late breakfast, the kids started in on their schoolwork.  Around 11:00, a small dinghy came up to our boat.  It was a man, two women and a little boy.  I brushed off my rusty Spanish, smiled, and called out “Hola!”  He smiled back, and handed me a card advertising their restaurant “La Casa Verde”.  The card was printed in 3 languages, Spanish, English and French.  How smart!!  It read in Spanish “Se puede comer y Beber” (You can eat and drink)  Pescado y Langosta (Fish and Spiny Lobster).  Wonderful!!  I reached back into the depths of my brain for another Spanish phrase “Que Hora?”  He was impressed.  He held up his fingers to indicate 12.  Fabulous!!!!  Then they made their way to Salt and Light’s boat.  The card was such a great idea as it made communication so much easier.  Another thing he did that I liked, was bringing his wife and child with him.  I am sure they have heard how nervous (possibly paranoid) US cruisers have become in Venezuela, and bringing his family along was a nice nonthreatening way to greet our boat.  Much appreciated!!

 

We had a great lunch and afterwards headed toward the sand dunes on the windward side of the island.  The owner’s of the restaurant let their  6 year old son, Miguel, go with us.  Interesting.  Cruisers are so paranoid of Venezuela, but these people trusted us, who don’t speak Spanish, to take their 6 year old son, (who doesn’t speak English)  in a dinghy, around the island, up over the dunes, and watch out for him as he and our kids played in the surf.  Imagine allowing  your child to do that.

 

The hike up the dunes was murder.  The sand is so thick and the dune straight up, our legs were burning!!  The pain was worth it though as on the other side was a huge white sand beach with big, powerful waves crashing on the shore.  The surge was strong and we really had to keep an eye on the kids.  We stayed for awhile.  Miguel wanted to take us to another “Playa” but it was well past 4:00 so we told him maybe “manyana” and headed back to the restaurant to drop him off and have a few cold beers.  Later that night, Salt and Light came over and we had the rest of the tuna.  Rennie seared hers while I made a ceviche with mine.  Both turned out well.  I hope we have the same luck fishing when we head to Margarita. 

 

  Miguel, Liam and Tessa

  The sand dunes.  Those little specks off in the distance are the kids!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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