HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL

I personally have really enjoyed our five months in this beautiful and friendly country.  We have seen so many interesting areas and feel that we have not really even touched the tip of the iceberg, so to speak.  I have certainly enjoyed a few of the luxuries such as a 2 hour weekly massage for $20, delicious pizzas for $5 and general monthly food shopping for around $400.  Our marina is friendly and we have made many close friends that I hope we will meet again.

 

All in all, it has been such a postive adventure that we are planning to return next hurricane season, but we will also be spending more time in the ABC islands.

 

My advice is to visit Venezuela if you have a chance.  The people are friendly and the land is gorgeous.  We will leave in January to cruise back up to the BVI, stopping at many islands on our way.

 

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Venezuela has a population of twenty-four million people and is the world's fifth-largest oil exporter.  Despite its rich natural resources, the country's wealth is held by a very small percentage.  The middle class is very small with about 80% of the population living at or below poverty level.  

 

President Hugo Chavez was elected in 1998 for a term of five years with no re-election.  He took office in 1999.  A newly-elected National Assembly passed a Constitution, overwhelmingly ratified by the people.  The new Constitution established a six-year presidential term of office permitting one re-election and a very unusual mid-term confirmatory referendum upon request of 15% of the 11 million registered voters.  In April 2000, Chavez was confirmed under the new Constitution or, in essence, elected for a new six-year term through 2006 when he was relected, once again, for another 6 years.

 

Despite the political and economic unrest, life is good for tourists. Most Venezuelans are genuinely nice and go out of their way to be helpful, providing directions, helping with buses, etc.  They are very tolerant of those who don't speak the language but we all try.  All we need to do is to say a few words and then body language and smiles can do the rest.

 

We have spoken with quite a few Venezuelans concerning the political situation.  They all report that President Chavez is the best president they have had and that the strike, by the oil companies in 2003, indeed broke all types of legalities.  At least all of the children are in school now, with uniforms paid for by the government.  He seems to be generally will liked and even though Bush is internationally disliked, the Venezuelans don't seem to connect him with cruising Americans.  

Glenda Hilty, my college roommate in 1957, spent the holidays with us along with Dave Robbins, Dave's friend.   It was one of the best visits ever.

Thank you, Glenda & Dave

 

FROM DAVE - - - OUR PLANS FOR 2007 and on-

 

We had a nice 600 mile trip down to Venezuela where we are finishing up some of the minor work. We headed out for week trips in October of '06 and hope to leave the Venezuela area by January.

 

Then a slow cruise back to the BVI and Puerto Rico for the spring and return here next summer for hurricane season again. Less work tho and more cruising the Venezuelan out islands. Then back up to northern Caribbean in the Spring of 08 and up to Maine for my granddaughter Devon's graduation from Bates College.  Then a slow cruise back down the east coast to the Caribbean again. Then we have Columbia, Panama and Central America to do. Perhaps Cuba will have opened up to American boats again by then…fantastic place when we cruised there in ’95.

 

We have a slip reserved in Ali Wai, Honolulu, Hawaii for 2012 so we have to finish the east side before we go thru the canal ;-)  Once thru I doubt if we’ll have time on our clocks to make it back.

 

We've got “stuff” for everything! Did I say several hundred videos both on tape and DVD?? Nancy's art supplies, her electric piano and books, books and more books.  Our fellow cruisers think we are a traveling video rental store ;-) as well as a book store!

From Dave - WOW !!!!  What a great Christmas we have had.  Nancy’s college roommate, Glenda, came down to visit us for a couple of weeks over the holidays. I then get an email from one of my old mates who wants to get out of California for Xmas so he shows up. Nancy and I were a little apprehensive about the “crowd” so we got both of them rooms at the marina. After they had settled in we stocked up and left for 3 days on Thursday AM. It is now Monday PM and we are still anchored in the same spot in Mochima National Park and no one wants to leave here!!

 

It has been so idyllic that it is hard to describe. No waves where we are and we have only had two boats in 5 days anchor here for a night. The snorkeling is fantastic and everyone has seen coral that they’ve never seen before. It funny but the water is a lot colder than the BVI’s I’m reading 79.5 f on the gauge and mid 80’s is the norm 7 degrees further north?????? The water here is very deep so I think the currents keep it stirred up.

 

We are so isolated that David Robbins and I took the dinghy today and went in search of a cell phone signal. We needed to cancel some reservations we had made for Xmas dinner!! As we were beginning to pick up a signal I spotted dolphins ahead. A couple and then some more and then maybe 50 of them. They played with us around the dinghy while I made the calls. Then we went back and got Nancy and Glenda and came back out for an hour of frolicking with the pod. Awesome!! They were herding fish and then just leisurely chomping down some Xmas breakfast. The birds, mostly Boobies, were dive bombing the bait ball, the sea was like a mirror and it was, as they say, priceless!. A great gift from nature to let us be in it!

 

We have to say this is the best anchorage that we’ve been in in a very long time. Everyone is so relaxed after a great turkey lunch that they are all snoozing except me. I gotta say that this is absolutely great. I now know why I busted my ass to get Swan Song into shape. The payoff has been these few days with the promise of many many more.

 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL OF OUR FRIENDS OUT THERE - EVERYWHERE

 

Dave

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I have to add my comments to Dave's.  Our Christmas holidays in Mochima National Park were absolutely the greatest.  The snorkeling was wonderful and I saw something I had never seen before.  The three pictures above are of Christmas worms, which are a lot like feather dusters that attach themselves to coral - mostly brain coral.  They are parasites and only "bloom" around Christmas.  It was absolutely amazing to come upon these huge masses of brain coral that were totally covered in all different colors of Christmas worms.  They were just beautiful.  We also saw some sea whips (upper right) and more live coral than I had seen in years.  Unfortunately, live coral is becoming a rarity these days as pollution and run-off from developments change the balance of coral that is close to land.

 

In addition to great snorkeling we took the opportunity to get into the water with wild dolphins when a pod swam into the bay that was next to us.  This was on Christmas morning, with a rainbow in the sky, and was totally idyllic.  I could spend the rest of my life just limin' in Mochima National Park.

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL -  NANCY

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