Pampatar

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PAMPATAR is a quaint and quite beautiful town, was founded in the 1530s and named after a Guaqueri Indian word meaning “town of salt”. Indeed, a salt flat mine is close by to this day.

There is a lot of mystery and beauty to explore in this charming town, specially in the fine old colonial buildings. Spaniards settled here because of its strategic location, a deep water-calm port and wealth produced by the existence of a natural salt flat mine.

Yachts, ships, and wooden boats are anchored in the quiet bay giving a picturesque contrast. Location: 10 Km east from Porlamar.

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After a delicious breakfast of fresh lettuce, strawberries, tangerines, fresh coconut, nuts, etc., I listened to the net with Dave who had decided to spend the day trying to acquire water for Swan Song. Knowing that he did not particularly want to go into Pampatar to explore, I hailed Barb and Mike on the VHF and made plans to take the provisioning bus into Ratan with them. The bus was quite old as are all VZ buses but the shopping mall was something really out of America – huge, beautiful, bustling and loaded with everything you could possibly want with no duty or tax.

I left them at Ratan and took a local bus into Pampatar where I got off at Simon Bolivar Plaza. Pampatar is a beautiful, small, quaint town much like Sousa in the Dominican Republic. The square was beautifully landscaped with numerous benches and resting areas. There were walkways leading to the various museums and to the oldest fort located in Margarita, and probably in all of Venezuela, Castillo San Carlos de Borremeo, which was built in 1663 for the purpose of defending the important trade port and town of Pampatar. La Caranta was built in a strategic location as its purpose was to defend the bay by providing a cross fire with the artillery in the castle of San Carlos de Barromeo. It has a tambour design and there is evidence that at a later date a parapet was added to reinforce the defense of the port of Pampatar. There are 11 cannons pointing straight out to sea. Today this for provides a gorgeous marine panorama, a view of the port and the coast of Pampatar. I was shown around by a lovely young university graduate just dying to use his English. We had quite a nice conversation until a family arrived and wanted a private tour.

I then went across the street to the local Craft Fishing Museum, which I naturally found quite fascinating having just written a 700 word article on the Pinero Boats of Venezuela for All At Sea. The museum is small but lovely with excellent examples of the necessities of fishing that the locals use. An older fisherman was there who spoke no English but I was able to convey my interest in the subject. There were exhibits of various types of fishing tackles, gear and equipment and wooden boat construction. I really enjoyed this and was sorry that Dave had missed it. Geoff Brooks would have loved it as the Sweethearts and Classic Yacht Regatta is this weekend at the Jolly Roger.

I headed across the street, purchased a map of the old district and chose an excellent beach restaurant for lunch. There an old rummie, Michael, a German sailor who had been in the area for over 20 years and looked every bit of it, explained the menu in English and recommended the only thing they had that day – fresh barracuda, which I can never remembering having tried. I was a bit reluctant as they are such scavengers and will eat anything, but I went for it and, true to his recommendation, it was delicious. As it was nearing one I decided it was time to catch a local but back to Ratan to meet up with Barb and Mike and take the bus back the anchorage.

I had told them when I left that I might not make it so I was not upset when a young American, Brian, offered to take me to the anchorage if I would wait for him. This turned out to be a two hour delay but we had a really interesting conversation. As fate would have it Brian went to high school in Evansville and married a Cuban gal from Newburgh of all places. I told him that I had lived on Newburgh Road in the 50s and he proceeded to enlighten me concerning all of the changes that had occurred in the last half century. How odd that I would run into someone from there on Margarita – life is so interesting. Brian is the exchange person for the coast as well as a financial advisor, so we had a most interesting discussion about money.

I arrived back at the boat just in time for the water boat. Dave picked me up and the water boat followed us out to SS. Another Keystone Cops operation – after setting everything up including the hose from their containers to our tank, their gasoline water pump wouldn’t start. Again they had no VHF but only cell phones. After many successive tries there was still no success so we left early the next morning without water.

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