Blown away by Adicora & Coro

9 Jul

There is always an element of uncertainty and nervousness when we set foot in a new country but to tell you the truth, we were scared out of our tiny little minds entering Venezuela! We’d heard so many bad stories about the crime, the gangs, the kidnappings and the murders that we didn’t have a chance to consider all the good things lying in wait for us. So imagine our surprise when we arrived at our first Venezuelan destination, Adicora, a calm, safe and charming colonial village by the coast, where the vibe was akin to a Caribbean island getaway rather than a gangland hood.

Situated in the far north-east of Venezuela, Adicora sits on the Paraguana Peninsula which juts out from the mainland into the turquoise Caribbean sea. Adicora is only 24 kilometres away from the island of Aruba and a world away from the notorious capital Caracas (350 kilometres away). In recent years Adicora has evolved from a sleepy fishing village into a mecca for wind sports enthusiasts. Near perfect conditions throughout the year mean that wind surfing and kite boarding professional from around the world are now rubbing shoulders with families of Venezuelan holiday makers and travellers who come here to enjoy the hot weather, prevalent winds, clear skies, sandy beaches and warm shallow waters.

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There are no high end hotels, night clubs or shopping facilities but there is clean, cosy family-run accommodation and a couple of simple restaurants and bars. We didn’t have our accommodation pre-booked as we stepped off the bus in Adicora, however, a friendly young guy suggested we follow him to apartments run by his parents. “We’ve heard it all before” we thought as we trailed after him, however, our initial apprehension instantly vanished when we were met with decent sized doubles with en-suites, air conditioning, a BBQ area and a gorgeous pool. With the black market rate working in our favour, all of this was ours for a mere $12 USD per night! By sheer fate, rather than judgement, Pousada Palacio de Verano, or the Summer Palace, became our royal residence for the next few days.
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Life in Adicora is “muy tranquilo”. Shoes and shirts are not a compulsory part of your attire here. Fresh coconut milk and ice cold beer is in plentiful supply and is as cheap as chips. The locals are so laid back they’re almost horizontal and with year round temperatures of 28 degrees and such beautiful surroundings, it’s easy to see why. Families escaping Venezuela’s high-rise big cities are keen to have fun and unwind. The toughest decision of the day is whether to read a book in a hammock, soak up some rays on the beach or to take to the water for adrenaline-fuelled sports.  
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If you’re keen to take lessons in windsurfing or kite boarding, Adicora is one of the cheapest places in the world to learn. There are several reputable agencies on South Beach including Adicora KWS, who were recommended to us, who will rent equipment, run courses and offer simple accommodation. Even if you’d prefer to keep both feet on dry land, you can’t help but be impressed with the strength and agility of the participants.
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Venezuela isn’t renowned for its gourmet cuisine but what its coastal regions do particularly well is fresh fried fish with the Caribbean staples of plantain, rice and coleslaw, washed down with a bottle of Polar Beer of course! The streets here are very safe to walk at night and the rustic restaurants along Adicora’s beach front are brimming with atmosphere as friends and families stay out late sharing mixed plates of food and enjoying the feeling of the sea breeze which evens out the heat of the day.
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The city of Coro is the gateway to Adicora and the region’s capital city. Situated an hour south of Adicora and connecting the Paraguana Peninsula to the mainland, Coro makes a pleasant stopover for a day or two. Coro is one of Venezuela’s best preserved colonial cities and its history and culture, earned Coro’s crumbling old town and port a space on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1993. 
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After the Spanish founded Coro in 1527 it became a prime trading station between South America and Europe and also a base for explorers searching for the lost City of Gold, otherwise known as Eldorado. The city has a unique mix of architectural styles including Spanish, Dutch and Caribbean adobe settlements. Calle Zamora’s cobbled streets run through the heart of the old town where there are over 600 colonial buildings and churches displaying Coro’s fusion of styles with many painted in vibrant colours. Particularly appealing are several funky cafes and French style bakeries in the old town to while away a few hours with a coffee and a good book.
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We stayed at Pousada Touristica El Gallo, a haven of peacefulness and serenity, with spacious doubles 400 Bolivars (roughly 8 USD, unofficial rate) and friendly French/Venezuelan owners. The rooms were spread around an open inner courtyard so it had the feeling of being outside but in. They had a refreshing plunge pool, comfy seating and hammocks. Plus there was a well-equipped outdoor kitchen, ideal for preparing breakfast or dinner, whilst mingling with other guests, and a freezer stocked with cold beers to purchase.
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On the northern edge of the city, Medanos de Coro National Park is an unexpected surprise of dunes and sand fields that were formed by persistent trade winds and ocean currents. The park covers an area of 80 square kilometres, with some dunes up to 30 metres high. It’s like a mini Sahara Desert!
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During the day it gets too hot to visit, so aim to arrive late afternoon – getting there at about 4.00pm is perfect timing for some dune climbing and sunset watching. It’s possible to take local buses there and back, which drop you at the edge of the dunes or, many hostels, including Pousada Touristica El Gallo, can arrange cheap half day tours.
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Venezuela’s fierce reputation had put the wind up us before we’d even arrived in the country and almost had us running scared but we were starting to eat humble pie. We’d been literally blown away by what we’d seen so far and with the friendly reception we’d received. To be honest, we felt a little bit foolish to have been so negative about a whole country due to a reputation born out of the big cities of Caracas and Maracaibo. We weren’t denying Venezuela could be a dangerous place and we needed to keep our wits about us but we resolved to move on to the next part of our Venezuelan odyssey with open minds and a spring in our step. We knew that good things lay in store…

One Response to “Blown away by Adicora & Coro”

  1. thetravellush July 9, 2014 at 6:05 pm #

    I had no clue these places existed. And they sound and look amazing! I’m so glad Venezuela defied your expectations, in terms of violence and safety. It truly sounds like an amazing country … and I’m so excited to read more about your adventures there!!

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