December 29, 2007-January 1, 2008
I took the hotel owner's advice and took a boat before dusk to Isla Margarita. The trip was a little rough, and a girl puked onto the floor before she could access a plastic bag, and it immediately ran directly under my backpack. Otherwise, the trip went fine, and by the time I got to the island, the line for the boats was at least three hours long, so I was glad to have gotten an early start.
I started in Porlamar, the main city on the island. Despite being located on a tropical island where thousands of people took their vacations every year, it was not a pleasant place. Huge piles of garbage were everywhere in the streets, and the few garbage cans were only half full. Venezuela was by far the dirtiest country I had ever visited. There's garbage on the streets in every country in South America, but only in Venezuela do the people there actually live like wild animals.
Shortly after it got dark, I walked around a bit, but everything was closed and there were only a few lowlifes on the streets. The night scene in every city in Venezuela reminded me of a cross between Mad Max, Night of the Living Dead, and that scene from Back to the Future II where they accidentally go to the alternative 1985. The guy at the hotel warned me not to go out anymore or I would be murdered. So much for having a nice vacation to ring in the new year.
Later I went to the creatively named Playa el Agua (The Water Beach), the most popular beach on the northern part of the island. It didn't compare with the beaches in northern Brazil, but it was much nicer than anywhere else I had been in Venezuela nonetheless. The weather was hot and sunny, there were plenty of shady palm trees, and lots of people to hang out with.
The best part of Isla Margarita was the cheap alcohol. Being in a duty-free zone, Margarita was mainly famous amongst Venezuelans for cheap deals on electronics, but I didn't have enough cash left to look into it. However, when beer is twenty cents per bottle, a bottle of cheap rum costs $1.50, and a bottle of six-year scotch goes for $9, you can't go wrong. Indeed, Isla Margarita did have a lot to offer to ring in the new year properly.
The photo album for this entry is here.