We're counting down to the weekend.
Hundreds of inhabitants of Isla Margarita insist on enjoying it until the last second.
We went up the last meters of the ramp to the Juan Griego viewpoint at an almost-running pace. At the top, inside the fortification, a crowd in joyful conviviality occupies the entire length of the walls, facing the Caribbean Sea where the sun has almost set.
Two competing ice cream vendors carry styrofoam boxes and advertise their product. They encourage him to ring little bells, awakening the desire of the children who make their parents' lives a misery there.
The ecstatic assistance accompanies and records the star's fading.
After a few minutes of additional contemplation, civil peace surrenders to a political-military ceremony.
The Solemn Download of the Venezuelan Flag
Two military come out of nowhere. In accordance with the pre-staged choreography, they bring down the huge yellow-blue-red Venezuelan flag that flies, haughtily, against the almost clear sky.
They stretch it, bend it to perfection. And they carry the symbol of the homeland Bolivarian in his arms, carried with a thousand cares, as if he were a newborn.
It darkens in three times. The next morning is work and, accordingly, many families disband. One or two clans of young people resist dancing to tropical rhythms that spring from their small cell phones.
The international entourage of which we are part admires them with fascination and some anxiety. Until we receive departure order and leave them to your party.
Discovering the Famous Margarita Island
Let's move forward in the narrative until after the new dawn. We followed instructions.
With breakfast already eaten, we wait for the transport that will take us to a nearby dock. And from there, to Playa de la Punta, a quiet cove on the Isla de Coche, a few miles offshore.
A humorous host on board welcomes passengers in hyper-fast Spanish and then, with the boat already in motion, in English with a strong Yankee accent.
Shortly thereafter, the vessel's bar opens. The crew DJ behind the counter blasts the first Caribbean themes with loud shouts and inaugurates a rumba that would drag on.
The journey to the secondary island is a long one. Sitting on the deck's seats, passengers avoid the role of inaugurating the dance floor, which is increasingly obvious and complaining.
But, in addition to the host and DJ, there is an MC on board who recruits them for the most distinguished exercises and borderless pastimes. They tie balloons full and of different colors to their ankles.
With a signal from the animator and to the rhythm of the music, the forced participants jump and jump like crazy to blast the opponents and stay “alive” in the game.
Playa de la Punta and the Speedboat in Rumbero Mode
Carlos, the MC, notes the speed with which that childlike joy takes over the boat, reinforced by the effects of rum under the most different recipes. It then launches other challenges that enhance the phenomenon and continues with its encouraging role even after landing at Playa de la Punta.
The entourage enjoys the warm and gentle sea. take the opportunity to decompress the day-to-day stress and fatigue of games on deck. The MC returns to attack and calls them to new activities, now aquatic.
Some of the old world vacationers turn up their noses. Faced with growing membership, they end up surrendering. Until lunchtime arrives and a meal at a popular restaurant near the beach rescues the group from that tentacular animator, not necessarily from the alcoholic beverages that continue to facilitate their mission.
Towards the end of the afternoon, on the way back, none of the passengers are able to resist. The music plays louder and louder. The MC poses new challenges. This time, the Venezuelan press team accompanying the delegation takes the honours. And it's Rogel's turn, in particular.
With the help of another crew member, the master of ceremonies puts a red wig on the head of his last guinea pig. And inflated balloons inside a bikini that fits her, matching a short petticoat. Carlos announces into the microphone: “Ladies and gentlemen, coming from Colombia, the exuberant Shakira”.
Instigated by the audience, to the sound of one of the singer's hits, the young man wobbles and displays a sensuality borrowed for the uncontrolled laughter of the trip's guests and colleagues who soon invade the “stage” to abuse the unlikely star.
Other numbers of the genus follow. Part of those present on board, lose their voice from screaming and laughing. Only the end of the afternoon and the return to the port from which that nautical epic of fun had sailed.
Back to the Historic Tour of Margarita Island
Enter a new day. The rumba is interrupted for another early riser tour. They show us the Castle of San Carlos, the Church of Buen Viaje, the Valle del Espiritu Santo and other relevant panoramic and historical points of the island of Margarita.
Like Coche's, Margarita was visited by Christopher Columbus on his second foray into the Americas.
It became the only island state in Venezuela and one of the pioneer territories to declare independence from the Spanish Crown, in 1810. And it is said that the discoverer compared those parts with a small Venice.
At the time, the natives were not as friendly as they are now, or they provided the Genoese's entourage with the spree that was being imposed on us.
We moved to the mainland Caribbean coast. We settled in Puerto de la Cruz, operational base for the exploration of the Mochima National Park that would follow.
A Summer Excursion in Mochima National Park
Two small boats depart from the hotel's maritime rear. Passengers completely fill the padded edges of the boats.
In the center, as was already suspected, there are large glaciers with endless beers, subsumed in an ephemeral and misplaced ice.
The brand, Polar, perfectly matches what is intended for the drink and some of the most nationalist Venezuelans on board wrinkle their noses when intrusive cans are passed to them: “Brahma?? Too bad idea they brought this!” exclaims one of them ironically.
We skirt around islets colonized by cormorants, pelicans and other nautical birds, accompanied by bouncing schools of dolphins. Once on land, we explore the island of El Faro among verdant cacti and in communion with huge iguanas.
From El Faro, we move to a lush bay on Arapo Island. There, we join in a much more peaceful bathing version of the celebration of life.
Hundreds of families and groups of Venezuelans share the meager sand and almost still, warm water of the Caribbean Sea.
Many brought their private soundtracks to the beach.
As they chat and picnic around the inevitable colorful neveras or semi-submerged in water as green as the surrounding tropical jungle, a Latin American buzz rocks the bathing community.
We, the embarrassed Europeans, have recovered for the real rumba we knew was in store for the return journey.