Most Venezuelans love the coast; personally the beach is my personal favorite place in the world. There I am completely myself and I guess the reason why is because I spent almost all of my vacations in the coast while living in Venezuela. I used to live in Barquisimeto, a city located two and a half hours from Falcon State where Morrocoy National Park is located, toward the west of the Venezuelan coast. This park of 32,090 acres contains an area of mangroves and numerous cays.
I had experienced the bliss of travelling to lots of them during my childhood and my early twenties; now that I see the pictures of this beautiful part of the Golfo Triste (Sad Gulf) I feel as if I was not aware of the beauty and the amazing clear blue of its waters. It seems a very exotic place to be and I was there several times as if it were an ordinary place.
Among the cays I travelled during all those early years were: Sal, Sombrero, Mero, Paicla, Pelon, Borracho, Las Animas and of course the amazing Juanes which is called The Pool, because this place is not an island really, it’s just an area that suddenly goes from ocean deep to a 5 feet foot pool, in the middle of nowhere. Boats just park there and one can go inside in the water and set food. The water is crystal blue, warm and amazing.
There’s also a cave called Cueva de la Virgen (Virgin’s Cave) only accessible through by boat, this place was dedicated to the Virgin, and lots of Catholics visit this place every holiday season and bring more religious figures and images into this cave.
Punta Brava is a beach located in the same national park. This is the perfect spot to hang out during weekends if the budget or time is not enough to take a boat and travel to the cays. This gold sand and clear water beach also has a lagoon to enjoy, lots of food services, and chair and umbrella rentals are available.
I remember one road just entering into an area full of huge palms, Boca de Aroa. There in that specific moment you know that you are already in the paradise, after two and a half hours of travelling from my city, Barquisimeto. I used to lower the car window and smell that amazing scent of the sea, my heart pounding. This was my happy place for sure. I have travelled and visited other coastal places but this one, believe me, has the most intense and amazing smell, maybe that’s how a paradise smells.
And of course, about food, there are two important stops to make, one in a small town called Moron. There you can find small food stands selling the most tasty empanadas, I love eating cazon empanadas. Cazon is dogfish, but prepared when the fish is very young because when it becomes an adult the meat gets tougher and not easy to chew. Add garlic sauce to those empanadas and you’ll see heaven on every bite. I am a cheese lover so I always ordered cheese empanadas as well.
Secondly, while passing the palm-lined road toward a town called Tucacas, on the beach side are lots of small restaurants selling seafood, nothing fancy but cute coastal style restaurants. They serve or used to serve the most amazing fried fish, either with fresh salad made of avocado, tomato, lettuce, onion and a flavorful vinaigrette, or tostones, a deep fried then smashed green plantain with salad on top, or cheese, etc. Yummy!
La Arepa‘s menu brings you a piece of this amazing part of Venezuela, through our #12 fish empanada, #17 fish patacon, or the new addition on the menu of the #24 tostones.
Behind the restaurant, the beach was very close. Eating there with those views and that smell was great. Again I wasn’t aware though, because every time my parents stopped there I was mad at them because I really wanted to get to the beach.
My favorite part of my vacation was always going camping on the cays, staying there 4 or 5 days far from the city, just the water, sand and fresh fish. Of course adults always brought lots of supplies, and we never left any trash behind. I’m happy to be part of the side of the population that has the awareness of how important is to respect and to protect our nature. The sound of the night was the waves sound and the palms moved by the wind, even though it was extremely dark far from the tent, I always felt safe; then in the morning I was so excited to wait for the first sign of the sun to open that tent and run into the warm crystal clear water. The rest of the day was just having the most sublime fun, in the most beautiful place, playing with the fish, diving, jumping, living.
Now that I remember it I’m feeling homesick, but then I remember how my country has been destroyed by the current political regime, and then I’m happy for the fact that at least I enjoyed it and I will always have that memory whenever I go. That place is part of me too. That safety and happiness was also called Venezuela.