Thursday, September 28, 2006

Porlamar, Isla Margarita, VZ

NOTE May 27, 2013:  Social conditions are much different in all of Venezuela than when we visited in 2006 and 2007.  We would recommend avoiding VZ until crime abates as it is too dangerous today.

September 28, 2006 Thursday
Porlamar, Isla Margarita, VZ

We were cleared in on Tuesday by Juan Baro.  Fantastic service he provides.  Cannot imagine why anyone would deal with clearing themselves in when Juan makes it so simple.

Marina Juan also provides free bus trips to the Sigo supermarket and shopping center on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  Juan gives you a laminated number on a lanyard that you hang around your neck.  You show this number to the cashier when you check out of the supermarket; and they direct you over to some guys who pack up all your groceries into boxes, which are labeled with your number.  The boxes are loaded into a large enclosed delivery truck which follows the bus back to the harbor.  Then the guys unload the boxes and they are wheeled out to the end of the dinghy dock for you.  Talk about service!!  And all this doesn't cost a penny!  Juan does request that you tip the guys 2500 Bs per person -- that is $1.09 USD.  Their services are certainly worth that piddling amount.  And your laminated number also entitles you to a free coke or water at the supermarket.  What a deal!

So, we ventured to Sigo on the bus yesterday.  This was to be just a scouting expedition; we don't need any food on the boat except maybe another loaf of bread.  But Judy cannot go into a supermarket and not find something to buy.  This supermarket would rival any in the states.  They had everything.  Of course, everything is labeled in Spanish; so shopping was interesting.  We did buy a few mystery items---things that we think we know what they are, but are't totally certain.  So some meals might be a bit adventuresome.

Bill has discovered that he likes the local Venzuelan beer called Polar Hielo (ice).  We bought a case.  After we got back to the boat and reviewed the cash register receipt, we discovered that the case of beer cost only $7.35 USD.  We have been warned that booze will cost more on the mainland, so this is the last place to really stock up on cheap beer before we head to the San Blas Islands in late November.  So we really should buy enough to last until end of February, when we should be going through the Panama Canal.  Beer could also be used for bribes or trading if needed.  So we will probably go back to Sigo on the bus tomorrow and buy another 10 cases of beer.  Man; that sure makes us sound like drunks!  And Judy doesn't drink the nasty stuff and Bill really doesn't drink more than 2 beers on any day.  That will be our 5 month supply.

Oh yeah.  Gosh these people can eat!  We went to lunch at a very nice seaside restaurant on Tuesday.  We were astounded at the quantities of food that all the local people ate.  Every single table also was drinking either wine or beer, even the ambulance drivers who had stopped there for lunch.  Absolutely no one was drinking water or soft drinks.  Just a difference in cultures.

We ordered Asopada de Pescadore, which turned out to be like a soupy paella.  It was fantastic and had every imaginable type of seafood in it.  They brought it to the table on a cart in a large soup tureen.  They added a generous splash of olive oil and white wine over the top and served up large bowls to us.  It was delicious but way, way more than we could ever eat in one meal.  We were still so full that we even skipped dinner that night.  We had the leftover soup for dinner again the next evening, and we still have another meal worth in the fridge.  We will have 3 meals from what was served for one lunch. 

When we went grocery shopping, we again noticed how much everyone was eating in the little restaurant tucked into the corner of the supermarket.  And the rest of the world is always joking about the fat Americans and how our restaurants serve such huge portions.  The US doesn't hold a candle to the Venezuelans in that regard.

This afternoon we had diesel delivered to our boat.  The two guys did an excellent job; no bumping against our boat and no drips anywhere.  And the delivered diesel only cost 32 cents USD per gallon!!!!  Man, what a profit you could turn with a shipload of that to the states.  We had been warned that US boats are not allowed to purchase diesel on the VZ mainland, so this was our only opportunity to buy diesel at these ridiculously low prices.  After we leave Puerto La Cruz then we will not be visiting any more inhabited islands.

We will be clearing out with the officials tomorrow.  Actually, Juan's guys will be clearing us out with the officials tomorrow.  We just need to drop off our in-bound clearance papers at Juan's office and they will handle everything and have our departure papers ready by 5:30 tomorrow afternoon.  (We will then take the bus to the supermarket and buy that all-important cheap beer.)  We have 24 hours to leave Isla Margarita after the clearance papers are stamped.  But, since they are closed on weekends, that means that we can leave as late as 7:00 a.m. Monday.  Don't you just love their logic?  You have 24 hours to leave, but we aren't working for 2 days so you really have 3 days to leave.  We plan to leave this anchorage Sunday and move to the west end of Isla Margarita.  That is about 45 miles from here.  From there, it will only be about 55 miles to Puerto La Cruz.  According to the sailing guide books, very few boats visit the west end of Isla Margarita.  So it sounds just perfect for us.

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