Saturday, April 10, 2010
Finally we made this trip happen! Catatumbo is located en el estado Zulia which is near Lago Maracaibo. We took a jeep from Merida to Catatumbo stopping along the way at a coffee plantation and Laguna de Urao. Then we made it to Puerta Concha, which was a small little village situated on a port that lead out to Lake Maracaibo. All the fishermen were there and it did not smell good. Omar, our guide, came speeding around the corner in his boat and we piled in. The scenery also looked very similar to the Everglades and it was beautiful! We saw so many animals: monkeys, birds, caiman, lizards, freshwater dolphins and fish. Apparently Omar has 30/30 vision or something because he saw a green snake on a branch that was covered with green leaves while we were speeding by on the boat. IMPOSSIBLE...but not for Omar. We came out from the rio to Lago Maracaibo and then set ourselves up in our palafito. These houses are built on stilts above the water! and people sleep in hammocks!
The palafito was really cute. Maybe someday I wouldn't mind owning one and coming down every once in a while for some relaxation. It was so peaceful and quiet and right on the water. Later on we took a boat safari with Omar to look at the birds and take a little tour of the southern part of Lago Maracaibo. The sky was an amazing mixture of pinks, blues, grays, and oranges. It looked too good to be true! We came back from the safari, had dinner and then just watched the sky for a while. When can you ever take time to do that in life?
After dinner we took another boat safari out at night, but this time with a very big flashlight because we were going caiman huntin'! Their eyes glow red if you shine a bright enough light on them. We found a ton and tried to grab them but Ysaac couldn't catch them.
So the main reason tourists come here is because of the colorful lightning! It's unique to this part of Venezuela because the cold air from Merida y los Andes mixes with the hot air from el Mar Caribe and then something about methane produces the lightning. A natural phenomenon like no other! We stayed up watching the lightning before we fell asleep in our hammocks. In the middle of the night there was a huge storm that woke us all up. My first thought was: hmmmm little tin house over the water in combination with a very strong storm and lightning = NOT GOOD! But Omar said the houses never get struck by lightning. Maybe he was just saying that but it help me fall back asleep to the sounds of the storm. Our return trip to Merida included stopping at beautiful waterfalls on the side of the street and a national park of caves. However, the river was high and so we couldn't go very far in the caves. Fine with me.....I rediscovered that I really hate bats!
This was probably one of my favorite memories so far! I would love to come back and sleep in hammocks in the palafitos again. I'm telling you I want to own one of these someday!