We set off from Grenada and made the 2 day 2 night sail (290 nautical miles) to Grand Roque, Los Roques (Venezuela).
I won't lie, I was nervous about this stretch of our travels due to the unrest in the country. The only time we felt unsure, was when we saw a large fishing boat. At this point we turned off our lights and set the AIS to receive only. Everything went smoothly. We were a tad bit paranoid.
We had a great sail and only had to throw on the engines during the second day. Upon arriving we dropped our anchor in the bay near Grand Roque. Shaun had read on Noonsite that the check in process had several steps. They were correct. In fact there were 6 places that need to be visited (Pharmacy for money, Parks, Military, Immigration, Coast Guard, and Port Control (ANEA)). It is a lengthy process, made even longer as we didn't speak Spanish. We ended up doing it over two days as we had arrived later in the afternoon and most of the places close at 4 - 4:30 PM. During the check in we were informed that foreigners are allowed 15 days in Los Roques before they have to move on.
|we're millionaires (200 USD = 1,400,000 million Bolivars)|
As we made our way to the centre of town we walked past wall art, homes, peek-a-boo water views, and fishing boats. During the day it is a quiet town but as evening arrives people materialise and the town comes alive.
|tree climbing in the centre of town|
|conk Christmas tree?|
|yummy fish dinner|
|the sand roads as we walk to check in|
|pelicans and fishing boats go hand in hand|
|a beautiful view from the Aquarena restaurant|
|Element anchored in the bay off of Grande Roque|
|a kids play park|
|on the way to the airport|
|the streets in town|
|a view of Element from Grand Roque|
We made a habit of going to the local beach restaurant Casa Marina for the cuba libras and to watch the lizards. This is where we met Javier, one of the staff members. He makes a mean cuba libra. We also met many local people vacationing from mainland Venezuela. One day we happily met a group because Shaun noticed that they had a delivery of ice so, he brought rum and coke from Element in exchange for ice. They insisted that we try Anise and lime juice a local favourite. They graciously invited us on a boat trip the following day to paradise on earth, Caya de Agua. They arranged for a boat to pick us up and we made the hour trip up. STUNNING!!!!!!
|Casa Marina restaurant/bar in Fancisqui Bay|
|Element at anchor in Frances Bay|
|the Cnemidophorus lemmiscatus lizards|
|Casa Marina price list in Bolivars|
|cuba libras for $1.50 USD|
|myself and Javier at Casa Maria|
|Shaun with the staff of Case Maria|
|myself and the staff of Casa Maria|
|cuba libras with Element in the background|
|happy captain with Element in the background|
|sea urchin anyone?|
|old and new friends (our new friends are from Caracas, Venuzuela and old friends from sv Tyrona)|
|our rides up to Cayo Agua|
|paradise in Caya de Agua|
|Marisol of s/v Tyrona after feeding the birds|
|moving an umbrella|
Another day Jordan and Shaun got to work on making a masterpiece sandcastle on the beach in front of Casa Maria in Frances Bay. We also met a Russian family who are living in Venezuela. They were vacationing in Los Roques from the mainland. Jordan and Mila (aka Milk) had a lot of fun together. We invited Mila to come back on Sunday to hang out with Jordan before flying home.
|the beginnings of the castle|
|the finished masterpiece|
|Mila and Jordan playing|
|Paige dressed in her sailing "uniform" LOL|
|Jordan and Mila on Element|
One afternoon there was a fellow who asked politely if he could rest at Element because he was tired from swimming. Shaun offered him a beer and he so grateful. Later that day we met up with him at Casa Maria.
|from left to right - Ricardo, me, Lorenzo, Diego and Jordan|
We met so many lovely Venezuelan vacationers in Cayo Frances. We were asked over for coffee to a neighbouring power boat. The 16 year old son wanted us to meet his family. During our visit several other friends and family arrived and throughout the conversation the topic of the current Venezuela government came up. It was enlightening to hear firsthand the locals points of view on the matter. Later in the evening, we were safely tucked away from the mosquitos we heard a dinghy approach. Our neighbours Mom sent over a traditional Venezuela dish for us to try Pabellóon Criollo. It is a simple dish of shredded beef and black beans served on a bed of white rice. It almost always is accompanied by a fried egg (Pabellón a Caballo) or with fried plantain slices (Pabellón con Barandas). Super delicious.
Our experience was a very positive one. It took a lot of soul searching and research to make the decision and we are exceedingly happy that we decided on visiting the area. The people are warm, generous and hopeful.