Parque Mochima, Cumana, and Araya

Cumana Travel Blog

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A dolphin jumping out of the water
Despite my best intentions to arrive at the small fishing village of Santa Fe before it got too late I of course didn´t end up arriving until almost 11pm due to various delays. The shared taxi dropped me off at the end of the short road into town and I had to walk about half a kilometer to all the hotels located right on the beach. It dead quiet and totally deserted but I found my way to the end of the road where there was a police station that I passed by. The police called me over and told me that I should pay them for a secure escort to the hotels because it was dangerous, so they said. I told them it seemed really calm and safe but then they told me this was all changing because yesterday someone was murdered. They really overdid it with that detail and the fact that all the beach hotels were only about 100 yards away I decided to forgo the 50 Bolivar escort fee and walk it on my own.
Palm trees and a boat on the beach at Santa Fe
Of course I arrived safely and without incident and was able to find a place for the night.

The next morning the town wasn´t so deserted and there were lots of fisherman selling their catch and other little stores. I caught a mini-bus down the road to Playa Colorada, a small beach with red sand in front of some lushly forested small mountains. The beach was fairly nice but with all the little stands and chairs and umbrellas set up it wasn´t anything special. Some afternoon rains forced me back to Santa Fe to hang out for the rest of the day. The following day I took a boat trip out to some of islands of Parque Mochima, which according to my guidebook was supposed to be one of the highlights of Venezuela.
Playa Colorada in Parque Mochima
On the way out to the islands I saw lots of dolphins swimming alongside our boat. The first beach at Isla Caracas that we stopped at was totally covered in trash and there was trash floating all in the water. Not so attractive. There was a section of coral reef there that was clean and did have some nice and colorful fish to look at and we did some snorkeling there for about an hour or so. We went to one other island which was really touristy and had an expensive and overpriced restaurant on it. After we all ate the food that we had brought for lunch it started to rain and continued to rain for quite a while. Because of the rains we didn´t stop at La Piscina which is a shallow water section between two islands, Isla Arepo and Isla Arepito, but I think the snorkeling there wouldn´t have been as good as that on Isla Caracas.
La Piscina in Parque Mochima


That night in town there was some type of party going on in the main street and they had speakers out blaring music and then later some girl was singing and there was some type of dance contest. Mid-way through this party the police came roaring down the main street with sirens on and the whole crowd was forced to part so the police could get through and get to the police station at the end of the road. When the car came to a stop outside the station they escorted four people out of the vehicle at gun point into the station before driving back up the road. About 15 minutes later they came flying back down the road and everyone had to move again. I was standing on the edge near a bunch of teenagers on bikes and they had to move further to let the police get through.
The fort in Cumana
I don´t know if one of them said anything to police or not but after the police car cleared the crowd it suddenly stopped and the two police got out with guns in hand and walked back towards the kids waving their guns around and yelling at them. The music was too loud for me to hear anything but the police clearly weren´t happy but they got back into their car and drove off after staying to watch the kids for some time. I thought that was the end of things for the night but shortly thereafter from somewhere a bottle flew onto the ground and broke. Suddenly the music shut off and the police came running in with their shotguns and pistols and started yelling at people and then they strangely just gave up and walked back to the police station and the music and festivities resumed.
The fort in Araya from the beach
Quite the eventful night in such a small town.

There was nothing left to see in Santa Fe so I headed off to Cumana, only about an hour and a half away. It was Sunday, which in Venezuela means that most everything shuts down so when I arrived at around 1pm the streets were pretty quiet and I had to go to several hotels to find one at a cheap price. I was able to find an Internet place that was open until 2:30pm and a bakery to get some food. I wandered around the streets but there wasn´t really much to see and it was sweltering as well. The one redeeming part of the city seemed to be the big fortress on a hill overlooking the city. It had been reconstructed but it was still pleasant to walk around with some colorful flowers and plants and good views over the city and the Araya Peninsula to the north.
A view fo Araya and the beach
For dinner there were only two places that were actually open so it was between Chinese food or a chicken place. The following day I made a day trip out to the city of Aray on the peninsula which involved a short boat ride in a packed and stuffy boat and then a short ride in a truck to Araya on the tip of the peninsula. The pensinsula is totally different from Santa Fe or Cumana with the tree covered lush hillsides, the peninsula is dry and arid and very desert-like with cactus everywhere. Like most everywhere else I have been so far in Venezuela it was littered with trash but here there were roaming bands of stray goats munching on the rubbish. In the town there were ruins of a fortress with good views over the peninsula and of the salt works that are north of the town.
Looking out towards the Salinas from the fort in Araya
The sun was really strong and the baking heat was relentless. Some of the rock work on the fortress was interesting but it hadn´t been restored like the fortress in Cumana. There wasn´t anything else to do in Araya so I headed back to Cumana to try to get a bus ticket to Merida, a place I hope will be nicer and more pleasant than Cumana. I hope it is because so far every place I been in Venezuela has been rather unpleasant, the kind of places that you can´t wait to leave even after you just arrive. This is in stark contrast to the beautiful natural surroundings that are what lured me here to begin with. It´ll be 24 hours on the bus before I get to Merida, but hopefully after that I´ll be somewhere nicer.
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A dolphin jumping out of the water
A dolphin jumping out of the water
Palm trees and a boat on the beach…
Palm trees and a boat on the beac…
Playa Colorada in Parque Mochima
Playa Colorada in Parque Mochima
La Piscina in Parque Mochima
La Piscina in Parque Mochima
The fort in Cumana
The fort in Cumana
The fort in Araya from the beach
The fort in Araya from the beach
A view fo Araya and the beach
A view fo Araya and the beach
Looking out towards the Salinas fr…
Looking out towards the Salinas f…
From the boat on the way to the is…
From the boat on the way to the i…
A ruined pier on Isla Arepo
A ruined pier on Isla Arepo
The beach at Santa Fe
The beach at Santa Fe
The beach and lush mountains at Sa…
The beach and lush mountains at S…
Sunset at the beach
Sunset at the beach
Another sunset on the beach
Another sunset on the beach
A old destroyed building on the pl…
A old destroyed building on the p…
San Anotonio Fort in Cumana
San Anotonio Fort in Cumana
The castillo in Araya
The castillo in Araya
Ruins of the interior of the fort …
Ruins of the interior of the fort…
Walls of the castillo in Araya
Walls of the castillo in Araya
The arid peninsula east of Araya
The arid peninsula east of Araya
Cumana
photo by: AndySD